About this blog

I study and teach earlier medieval history at the University of Sheffield (here’s my staff page). This blog is the home for a research project that I’m working on, called ‘Turbulent priests: the problem of royal jurisdiction over the religious, 500-1200′, for which the AHRC provided 18 months of research leave through a fellowship in 2014-16.

At various times and in different ways across the Latin West during this period, many clerics of different status refused to attend certain kinds of court. Historians often talk about this as the privilegium fori, or ‘privilege of clergy’.  The extent and nature of this privilege was seldom clear, even to those claiming it.

I want to use the debates and disputes that ensued to understand better how the boundaries between the secular and the religious were negotiated in the European Middle Ages.  (Almost all these concepts – secular, religious, European, Middle Ages – are problematic in one way or another. That is of course all part of the fun).

This blog will provide updates on my progress on this as well as other topics, and there’ll also be occasional guest posts by friends and colleagues working on related questions. Other project outputs include a series of talks on the relation between religion and law in Sheffield Cathedral held in 2016; an article on twelfth-century ecclesiastical advocacy,  and another on a ninth-century village priest; a forthcoming special issue of Medieval Worlds on medieval religious immunity viewed globally; and a monograph currently in preparation.

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A research project blog by Charles West (Department of History, Sheffield)