OF THE AUSTRALIAN EARLY MEDIEVAL ASSOCIATION
VOLUME 6 - ABSTRACTS
1 Abstracts | Volume 2 Abstracts | Volume 3 Abstracts | Volume 4 Abstracts | Volume 5 Abstracts | Volume 7 Abstracts
The letter of Innocent I to Florentinus of Tivoli
Geoffrey D. Dunn
Sometime during his episcopate in the first two decades of the fifth century Innocent I, bishop of Rome, wrote to a neighbouring bishop after having received a complaint from another neighbouring bishop about alleged infringements of episcopal rights. Innocent's response (Epistula 40) is couched in the language of fraternal advice (conuenit) that he used in most of his correspondence, yet it differs from many of this other letters in that he would be more directly involved if the matter proceeded further. This paper investigates the evidence of this letter in comparison with what is found in other correspondence from the Roman bishop to other parts of the Roman world in order to reveal that Innocent's authority was greatest over the bishops of suburbicarian Italy, that area over which he acted as metropolitan. It shall be argued that the complaining bishop wrote to Innocent, not because the latter was head of the church but because he was the local metropolitan, and that the arrangement we can see in this letter should not be taken as indicative of Rome's relationship with other churches outside suburbicarian Italy.
A medieval gesture riddle: 'To take VII from VIII and have VI left'
In the fourth century Symphosius wrote a book, which contained one hundred riddles. He even provided the answers to all the riddles. For the majority of the riddles the answers are relatively easy to guess. However, there is one exception, riddle number 96, which reads as follows:
If you this marvel to believe will design
Hold eight upon your hand - I'll make it plain
Take seven away, and yet will six remain
The answer for this riddle is: 'To take VII from VIII and have VI left'. This answer is most perplexing and appears to challenge the very foundations of our knowledge of arithmetic. In the early medieval era it was thought to be interesting or significant enough to be repeated in another book of riddles written by Alcuin in the eighth century. The answer given by Alcuin, and earlier by Symphosius, appears to be more confusing than enlightening. They both state that this riddle is worked out on the hands, which suggests that it is solved through computus digitorum. It has been thought that this riddle is a mnemonic or even a clue to the lost method of calculation with the hands. Both of these seem to be unsatisfactory solutions to its meaning; yet it is a very intriguing riddle. This paper considers this intriguing riddle and proposes a different solution to it.
Byzantine seals unearthed by the archaeological excavations at the Geni mosque in Bitola
The present text intends to bring more historical information from the recently discovered two lead seals found by the archaeological excavations at the porch of the Yeni mosque in Bitola. Both seals can be dated to the last decades of the eleventh century and they provide a unique insight into the history of medieval Bitola. According to their inscriptions the first one can be attributed to the corps of Manglavites - the imperial or ecclesiastical guard. The second seal belongs to the military commander Theodore the Vestiarches, but his historical identification remains problematic. The foundations of a church recently discovered by the archaeological excavations underneath indicates that at the end of the eleventh century Bitola was an active religious and administrative centre.
Shifting terrain: Italy and Germany dancing in their own tapestry
Adelheid, dowager empress of Germany in the late tenth century, owned more lands than her son the emperor. She had inherited them from her father, Rudolf, king of Burgundy and Italy, and from her first husband, Lothar, king of Italy. The possession of these lands was arguably the most important source of power in the tenth century although seldom discussed in current historical studies. In 952, Adelheid brought the kingdom of Italy to her second marriage with Otto, king of Germany and emperor of Germany to be. The sophisticated Italian court culture met the vibrant German 'new culture' and both were enriched. Adelheid continued to rule her lands during her marriage to him and after his death. As land was a source of power, she wielded considerable authority in her own right. This paper seeks to understand the sources of the ownership of the land and how effectively Adelheid used it as a tool of rulership blending two cultures - the one into which she was born and the other into which she married.
Reading Fifth-Century British History
When approaching fifth-century British history, the broad narrative story appears clear: barbarian raids, usurping emperors, independent local British rulers and the beginning of centuries of internecine warfare amongst the Britons, and Britons against the Saxons, Picts and Irish. This narrative is based upon a traditional reconciliation of a small number of sources but a survey of twenty-five major scholarly works of the past century reveals at least sixty extant sources have been cited with varying degrees of frequency. Taken as a whole, this broader corpus of documents offers hints of historical byways less travelled by the mainstream scholarship. In addition, if we return to the most reputable of the sources, we find there are still unresolved problems with their treatment of the key events of the period. For example, were there three usurpers in 406-407 or only two? The testimony of the contemporary chroniclers is at odds with those that came later. Clearly the academic jury still has much to ponder.