From Emperors to Popes – A Case Study in Re-invention

Summer Schools, Talk, Roma

Entrance: via Liguria 20

Summer Schools, Talk

Entrance: via Liguria 20

The event will be held in English at Istituto Svizzero from H19:30 to H20:30
Free entrance, register here.

Istituto Svizzero
Via Liguria 20, Roma
Free entrance

From Emperors to Popes – A Case Study in Re-invention

Istituto Svizzero is hosting a public talk by Peter Heather, Professor of Medieval History. The lecture is presented in the context of the Summer School Roma Aeterna.

One highly influential view of the early medieval west considers that a succession of Popes quickly realised that they could occupy the power vacuum created by the disappearance of its western Roman emperors in 476. The result was a new kind of Empire certainly, with a different balance between ideological and practical power, but one which, all the same, continued the operation of supra-regional authority more or less without a break from the city of Rome: Roma Aeterna indeed. On closer inspection, a much more interesting story must be told. Not only had the city had become a political backwater in the last two centuries of Roman imperial history, but it took the best part of another six hundred years before paramount religious authority over the broader Latin west even began to be invested in the city’s bishops. The realisation of full-blown Papal authority then took a further century and a half before it became manifest in the reign of Innocent III (1198-1216), and even this part of the process was driven not so much by people and events inside the city as Churchmen, intellectuals, and political leaders from across the broader Latin west. An older image of imperial continuity, featuring a seamless transition from emperors to Popes, needs be displaced by a long-drawn out and highly contingent story of imperial reinvention.

The Summer School is organized in collaboration with:
University of Bern, Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Classics
(Interdisziplinäres Doktoratsprogramm Altertumswissen: IDA) and Università Roma Tre

The event may be photographed and/or video recorded for archival, educational, and related promotional purposes. By attending this event, you are giving your consent to be photographed and/or video recorded.


Peter Heather joined the department in January 2008 as the Chair of Medieval History. He was educated at Maidstone Grammar School, before moving to New College Oxford to complete his undergraduate degree and doctoral work. Prior to joining King’s, Peter Heather worked at University College London, Yale University and Worcester College, Oxford.

Sign up to this event to receive a notification email

* Required field