As I headed for the basement of the Institute of Historical Research shortly after the Earlier Middle Ages Seminar on Wednesday 12th November, where in fact I then went and posted this all-but-complete post, I passed Magistra of Magistra et Mater on the stairs, and said unto her: “Do you want to do this one, or shall I?” And she has indeed written it up a storm, going far further into the issues than I could have done. So instead here only a short notice: on that day Conrad Leyser of Manchester University, with a small clutch of his erstwhile students in attendance too, spoke to the title: “Law, Memory and the Priestly Office in the West before the Millennium”. His basic case was to try and explain the eleventh-century reform movement through a growing professionalisation of the clergy, therefore viewing themselves as a class apart and defining themselves by standards of behaviour that became reformism. He mainly drew on ecclesiastical writing from around Rome, and John Gillingham thought there were links not made between those writers and the widespread success of the reform elsewhere, and I also thought that the crowd’s involvement wasn’t explained, although Dr Leyser managed to cite a sermon by Liutprand of Cremona that apparently spends time explaining why even if he be a bad priest he’s still holy and a vessel for the Holy Spirit, which would certainly bridge the gap. But Magistra has gone into the whole thing much better than I could, as has already been recognised by Dr Nokes’s new guest blogger in the Unlocked Wordhoard’s now-revenant Morning Medieval Miscellany, and I entreat you to follow it up.
The only other thing to note on this score is that since I originally posted the schedule the gap that was to have fallen on the 26th was lately filled by Bruce O’Brien giving a paper on language change in Anglo-Norman England. I have so much backed-up content that it was always long odds that I would post that in time to make it current information, but it causes me mild vexation for two reasons: firstly, the last time I saw him it was someone else talking about that, to wit Chris Lewis, who will probably be in attendance, and it’s just generally a bit weird to reverse all these things, and secondly that was the day before payday. So, precisely because I saw both of them in the USA I couldn’t go, as I didn’t have the train ticket money to spare. Bah. Of course by the time you read this I’ll be solvent again, but still. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of someone else blogging that one too?