Expert in: Modernity
- Medieval church
- Pardon (law)
- Middle Ages
My work initially dealt with the Pontifical Court in the late 14th century. I emphasized the government structures and the career and promotion streams that were common there by studying not ordinances, but the individual paths (prosopography) by making use essentially of practice documents (accounts, letters, releases, petitions, etc.). At present, I am particularly involved in the evolution of government systems towards modernity through the administration of the power of grace. It seems to me that the most significant example of the political use of pardon must be researched at the Pontifical Tribunal responsible for administering it – the Apostolic Penitentiary – the archives of which were recently made available to researchers by Pope John Paul II.
Other recent research is leading me to consider how the Middle Ages are received in our contemporary societies, through film, video games, simulation games. What Middle Ages are we exploring then? What are the links between history and the imaginary worlds of the entertainment industry? It is therefore appropriate to consider the true legacy of this period for the modernity that we are experiencing and its structural contributions (representation, public gatherings, modes of government), intellectual contributions (universities, structuring of the sciences, (in)differentiation of disciplines) and social contributions (gender relations, orders and equality, relationship with wealth).
I am also currently working, either alone or collaboratively, on three main book projects:
- Middle Ages and Mathematics: the case of Alcuin’s Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes (9th cent.).
- Demilitarization of the medieval clergy after the Gregorian reform (11th to 15th cent.) and the distinguishing strategies established by the Church for protecting its own (beatings and injuries to the clergy). Here we are dealing with the matter of punishment (penance) and forgiveness, which are central to the internalization of Christian norms, which were deeply structuring in the Middle Ages.
- Anthropology of animals in the Middle Ages and in the modern era through trials conducted with animals guilty of crimes (13th to 17th cent.) as part of a major research project investigating the connections, both real and symbolic, between humans and animals, from the Middle Ages to the anti-speciesist movement.