The ecclesiology of the Papacy of Honorius II (1124-1130), with a preliminary calendar of letters

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis analyses the idea of the Church adopted by the papacy of Honorius II (1124-1130), a pontificate hitherto overlooked by most historians. The main sources, examined with a particular focus on language and context, are the extant letters produced by the papal chancery, which present the official Roman view. A preliminary calendar of the letters is compiled here for the first time and is intended as a tool for future research. Chronicles and other sources are also used to expand the analysis. The first section explores the papacy’s theoretical assertions of primacy over the whole Church and the innovations of the chancery led by Haimeric (1123-1141). It argues that this pontificate added a degree of novelty to ideas already in use (such as the maternal role of the Roman church) but also made new and stronger claims for the papal office. Chapter two considers the consequences of these claims on papal relations with other ecclesiastical institutions and the tools Honorius resorted to when asserting his primacy. It concludes that some of these – especially papal legates – were adapted to the pope’s needs or achieved an even more significant role during this papacy, allowing Honorius to exercise a certain pragmatic primacy over the whole Church. Chapter three deals with relations with secular powers. Although this is afflicted by a serious dearth of letters – the silences of Honorius - the chapter demonstrates that it is still possible to recreate some sense of the modus operandi towards secular powers. It argues that the papacy was usually responsive and its actual power quite limited. The last section offers a case study of Honorius’s relations with Montecassino. Compared with two almost contemporary cases at Cluny and Farfa, this exposes how the ecclesiology of this papacy worked in detail. It argues that these episodes should be read together as a papal attempt to assert primacy over institutions which had always pursued a policy independent from Rome. The image emerging from this analysis frames Honorius’s papacy more effectively, overturning the idea of a transitional and colourless pope. This was a vital pontificate, during which some significant innovations and claims were made. In particular, by adapting the content of each letter to addressee and context, Honorius’s chancery, led by Haimeric, played a decisive role in extending the ecclesiology of the papacy.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
  • Andrews, Frances, Supervisor, External person
Award date28 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Medieval papacy
  • Ecclesiology
  • Roman primacy
  • Letter-writing
  • Papal chancery
  • Honorius II
  • Lamberto


Dive into the research topics of 'The ecclesiology of the Papacy of Honorius II (1124-1130), with a preliminary calendar of letters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this