About

Conrad Leyser

Associate Professor of Medieval History, Worcester College, University of Oxford

Fellow, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (1992–1994)

Conrad Leyser works on the religious and social history of western Europe and North Africa, from the fall of Rome to the rise of Latin Christendom after the first millennium. He has studied the problem of moral authority in the post-Roman West. His current project traces the relationship between institutional identity and cultural memory across the late ancient and early medieval period. In a study entitled The Myth of the Church, he plans to follow the development--slow and late--of a professional, celibate clerical hierarchy.

His immediate interests are in proposing a new view of the tenth-century Church. He is testing the hypothesis that this was an era in which bishops took advantage of the confusion occasioned by the end of the Carolingian Empire to achieve an unprecedented degree of institutional autonomy and self-definition. By marshalling (and sometimes actively forging) the authority of the early Church, late ninth- and tenth-century clerics succeeded in making of the episcopacy a career, with its own code of conduct, and the possibility of advancement.