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Extending Gregory VII's ‘Friendship Network’: Social Contacts in Late Eleventh-Century France

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In the last quarter of the eleventh century, the Roman Church had a capable ruler and defender in Pope Gregory VII (1073–85). Despite his otherwise charismatic authority, however, Gregory's ability to extend his influence beyond the papacy's more immediate control of Rome and the Campagna was limited. Filling this administrative and legal gap was the emerging office of legation, developing ad hoc under Gregory VII in matters of reform and law. Papal legates such as the French representative, Bishop Hugh of Die (later archbishop of Lyons), became crucial figures in the machinery of papal government. They assumed a vital role in the transmission of reforming legislation north of the Alps while effectively widening Gregory VII's ‘friendship network’ to encompass influential members of the local and regional clerical and lay elite. With the assistance of this ecclesiastical office, moreover, the papacy significantly enhanced its opportunity for social contacts, thereby strengthening its hold on the more distant provinces of Western Christendom. By focusing on existing and growing social networks in late eleventh-century France, this article examines Hugh of Die's role as an instrument of church reform, and assesses this legate's impact on the larger papal reform initiative in France.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Queensland

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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