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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social networks in the rise of episcopal power in late antiquity : the case of Martin of Tours Fernandez, Damian Martin

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the case of Martin of Tours to understand the process of the rise of episcopal power during the fourth century in Gaul. A traditional understanding of this process considers that episcopal power had a significant change in nature when aristocrats took over the office of bishop in the beginning of the fifth century. Nevertheless, recent studies have pointed out that during the fourth century some bishops were able to develop and consolidate a large amount of power within the city by means of traditional Roman social relationships.. These were alliances with local notables and the development of networks of patronage. Sulpicius Severus, the biographer of Martin of Tours, constructed a figure of Martin shaped by particular religious, political and social motives. As a result, it becomes difficult to establish the actual nature and form of Martin's social relationships. Yet he also offered some hints that allow the reader to grasp them. Specially, the mention of gifts and favours are the clues that point towards the existence of a vast network of social rapports. This network reached all sectors of lateantique Gallic society, from emperors to minor officers or from aristocratic landowners to poorest sectors. Consequently, a close examination of Martin's vertical and horizontal social relationships allows the modern reader to reconsider traditional models of the rise of episcopal power in Gaul.

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