Past Event

Columbia Medieval Studies Seminar: Dr. Pawel Figurski

April 2, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Columbia University Faculty House

Professor Pawel Figurski will present "Dangerous Prayer: Liturgical Construction of Medieval Kingship (c.800—c.1200)". Pawel Figurski is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He published several articles in political theology, and representations of kingship in the early Middle Ages. At present he is preparing for the publication in Polish of his first monograph, tentatively entitled “King and the Corpus Christi. An Essay on the Sacrality of Political Power in the Early and High Middle Ages.” The abstract for his talk is below.

"Charles the Bald started a new liturgical tradition of invoking rulers during the key Christian ritual, the Eucharist, by ordering the addition of the title "king" (et rege nostro) to the Roman Canon of the Mass (Paris, BnF, Latin 1141, fol. 6v). After this point, the title ''king" was expected to be included in the opening section of the Canon, the Te igitur prayer, alongside the titles of the pope and of the local bishop. In doing this, Charles strove to elevate the position of the anointed ruler in the Church and to provide him with the holiest place of commemoration during the Eucharist, equal to the highest members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. During the ninth and tenth centuries, the appearance of this regal invocation in the Roman Canon of the Mass was still exceptional; by the thirteenth century, its absence would be unusual. 

Based on the analysis of more than two hundred liturgical manuscripts, my lecture surveys the history of the aforementioned prayer and its importance for theology of kingship in the Early and High Middle Ages. First, I focus on the Ottonian / early Salian Church (936-1056) because it is perceived by many scholars as the lacy example of liturgical kingship, at which the sacrality of royal power reached its peak. Nevertheless, the reception of the Carolingian political theology conveyed by invoking rulers in the Te igitur prayer was highly contested by some ecclesiastical centers in the tenth- and eleventh-century Empire. Second, I call attention to the late eleventh- and twelfth-century renewal movements of the Church, known as the Gregorian Reform, that apparently strove to desacralize royal power. However, it seems that part of the success of the spread of the liturgical tradition might be attributed to the work of those labelled “Gregorians.” By tracing the puzzling history of this phenomenon, this lecture re-assesses commonly-held generalizations about the Ottonian / early Salian Church as well as the Gregorian Reform movement, proposing a new approach to early and high medieval kingship."


The event will be held in Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive. The cost for dinner following the talk at 7:00, payable by check only, is $30.  When you RSVP please indicate whether or not you plan to come to dinner; please give 10 days advance notice.