The Politics of Identity in Visigothic Spain

Religion and Power in the Histories of Isidore of Seville


Previous scholarship has interpreted Bishop Isidore of Seville (d. 636) retrospectively as the architect of the medieval Spanish church, as the father of Spanish identity, and as a key figure in the transmission of Classical and Patristic learning to the Middle Ages. Drawing on recent studies on identity formation in the early medieval period and an upsurge in interest in late antique Spain, this book examines the historical Isidore as a social actor managing a complex web of responsibilities and relationships. A comparative analysis of Isidore's historical works demonstrates that writing about the past was a method for reconciling Visigothic kings, nobles and Spanish bishops in a period of transformation. This results in a fresh portrait of Isidore as motivated, both politically and pastorally, to balance competing interests and ensure the spiritual and material security of the people of Spain.
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Biographical Note

Jamie Wood, Ph.D. (2007) in Classics and Ancient History, University of Manchester, is Lecturer in Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester. He has published a number of articles on the social and intellectual history of late antique Spain.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ... vii
List of Abbreviations ... ix
Notes on Contributors ... xi
Preface ... xiii

Restless Peasants and Scornful Lords: Lay Hostility to Holy Men and the Church in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages ... 1
Peter Sarris
Methodology, Authority and Spontaneity: Sources of Spiritual Truthfulness in Late Antique Texts and Life ... 11
Peter Turner
The Cult of Saints and Religious Processions in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages ... 36
Peter Kritzinger
Augustine, Donatists and Martyrdom ... 49
Collin Garbarino
Excluded from Power? The Boundaries of Orthodoxy in the Works of Athanasius and John of Ephesus ... 62
Philip Wood
The Conversion of King Caleb and the Religious and Political Dynamics of Sixth-Century Ethiopia and Southern Arabia ... 77
Ralph Lee
The Emergence of Martyrs’ Shrines In Late Antique Iran: Conflict, Consensus and Communal Institutions ... 89
Richard Payne
Orthodox and Heretic in the Early Byzantine Cult(s) of Saints Cosmas and Damian ... 114
Phil Booth
The God-Protected Empire? Scepticism towards the Cult of Saints in Early Byzantium ... 129
Matthew Dal Santo
Images of Authority? Imperial Patronage of Icons from Justinian II to Leo III ... 150
Mike Humphreys
Hagiography as an Instrument for Political Claims in Carolingian Northern Italy: The Saint Syrus Dossier (BHL 7976 and 7978) ... 169
Giorgia Vocino
Relics and Texts: Hagiography and Authority in Ninth-Century Francia ... 187
Gerda Heydemann
Conclusion: An Age of Saints? Power, Conflict and Dissent in Early Medieval Christianity ... 205
Matthew Dal Santo and Phil Booth

Select Bibliography ... 215

Index ... 219


All those interested in late antique and early medieval history, historiography, Church history, and the formation of religious and political identities, as well as theologians, historians of Spain and Hispanists.


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