- Start date: 1 May 2017
- End date: 30 April 2020
- Funder: The Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship
- Primary investigator: Dr Thomas W. Smith
The system of papal provision was one of the main methods through which clergy were appointed (‘provided’) to ecclesiastical benefices in medieval Christendom.
Through the wholesale provision of foreign, mostly Italian, clergy across medieval Europe, the popes aroused fierce contemporary opposition and xenophobia, and the system still provokes fierce controversy among modern historians, most of whom follow medieval chroniclers in interpreting the system as nepotistic, predatory, and exploitative.
Yet the exponential growth of the system in the thirteenth century, which was driven by English petitioners and members of the papal familia alike, has arguably been misunderstood because this crucial period has never been subjected to detailed analysis.
This project aims to re-evaluate the character of the system and to arrive at a much more considered assessment of the extent of immigration through papal provision.