Medieval History Seminar

Delivered by Dr Thomas Smith (University of Leeds), ‘Use of the Bible in Papal Letters: Theology and Authority in the Arengae of Honorius III’.

Biblical quotations and references course through medieval papal letters, especially the opening preambles, known as arengae, which popes used to promulgate their authority and expound their theological understanding of the crusading movement. The value of these preambles was traditionally underestimated as mere rhetoric, and they remain untapped sources that offer unparalleled insights into papal thinking, the self-fashioning of papal identities, and can also be used to reconstruct the content of crusade preaching in the localities. Pursuing the first systematic study of high medieval papal arengae, this paper uses the pontificate of Honorius III (1216-27) as a case study to reveal how arengae can be read and their potential for the study of the papacy and the crusading movement.

Dr Thomas Smith is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Leeds. Previously he was Lecturer in Medieval History at Trinity College, Dublin. His research focuses on the high medieval papacy and the crusading movement, especially their documentary and manuscript sources and the reception and transmission of crusade texts. His first monograph, Curia and Crusade: Pope Honorius III and the Recovery of the Holy Land, 1216-1227, is currently in press with Brepols.

Location details

Michael Sadler Building (Grant Room 3.11)