Audrey Becker writes on ‘The Power of Humility: Fifth-Century Gallic Bishops in Negotiations with Barbarian Kings’ in the latest thematic issue of Studies in Late Antiquity.
Abstract. This essay examines the diplomatic efforts of Gallic bishops with barbarian kings, in the tense period after 406 CE and during the raids of Attila in Gaul in 451. The first part of this essay seeks to understand the narrative strategies at work in five late antique Gallic hagiographies. Written decades after the events narrated in them occurred, under different political circumstances, these texts re-imagined and re-interpreted these diplomatic encounters, bolstering claims of episcopal authority. The second part of this essay contextualizes the hagiographic claims of Gallic bishops’ involvement in diplomacy, paying particular attention to the role of episcopal humility in diplomatic encounters. It shows that this humility was not only a topos but also a useful diplomatic and religious tool.
Pedro Benedetti took his doctorate at the University of São Paulo with a thesis on the relations between the Roman provincial populations and the barbarians in 4th- and 5th-century Gaul: ‘As relações entre as populações provinciais romanas e os bárbaros nas Gálias dos séculos IV e V (c. 350–475 d.C.)’.
It can be found in the repository of the USP.
The author explains: ‘In the 4th chapter, I discuss Sidonius’ use of frontier terminology relating to the Gothic presence in Aquitania to argue that, although scholars debate the precise date when we can talk about a “Visigothic Kingdom”, his perception of the nature of the Gothic domain varied according to his own judgement of the kings’ loyalty to the “federate” treaty. In the 5th chapter, I argue that Sidonius’ depiction of the sieges of Clermont as a clash between the freedom of the Roman life and the servitude under barbarian rule mirrors the accounts of 4th-century sieges of Gallic cities and, although we can see some continuity in the way the urban resistance is mobilized, the context of 5th-century Auvergne is very different.’
Benedetti is currently working on an article on popular and subaltern experiences in Sidonius’ letters. Email address: benedetti190 AT hotmail.com.