At various times over the past millennium bishops of Rome have claimed a universal primacy of jurisdiction over all Christians and a superiority over civil authority. Reactions to these claims have shaped the modern world profoundly. Did the Roman bishop make such claims in the millennium prior to that? The essays in this volume from international experts in the field examine the bishop of Rome in late antiquity from the time of Constantine at the start of the fourth century to the death of Gregory the Great at the beginning of the seventh. These were important periods as Christianity underwent enormous transformation in a time of change. The essays concentrate on how the holders of the office perceived and exercised their episcopal responsibilities and prerogatives within the city or in relation to both civic administration and other churches in other areas, particularly as revealed through the surviving correspondence. With several of the contributors examining the same evidence from different perspectives, this volume canvasses a wide range of opinions about the nature of papal power in the world of late antiquity.

chapter |14 pages


part I|71 pages

The Fourth Century

chapter 4|14 pages

Pope Siricius and Himerius of Tarragona (385)

Provincial Papal Intervention in the Fourth Century *

part II|87 pages

The Fifth Century

chapter 6|18 pages

Reconsidering a Relationship

Pope Leo of Rome and Prosper of Aquitaine *

chapter 7|14 pages

Narrating Papal Authority (440–530)

The Adaptation of Liber Pontificalis to the Apostolic See's Developing Claims *

chapter 9|20 pages

Crisis in the Letters of Gelasius I (492–96)

A New Model of Crisis Management? *

part III|41 pages

The Sixth Century

chapter 10|20 pages

Ipsis diebus Bonifatius, zelo et dolo ductus

The Root Causes of the Double Papal Election of 22 September 530 *

chapter 11|20 pages

Gregory the Great and Sicily

An Example of Continuity and Change in the Late Sixth Century