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The Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna

Agnellus of Ravenna
  • By Agnellus

Agnellus' Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis (Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna), written in the ninth century, is an essential source for the study of Italian history from the fourth to the ninth centuries. Agnellus seems to have been a well-born priest in the church of Ravenna, and his work is strongly colored by his personal experiences. He wrote the book to demonstrate two strongly-held opinions. One was the apostolicity and independence of the Ravennate archbishopric; the other was the moral decline of recent bishops and their erosion of clerical rights. Using the framework of a series of biographies of the bishops of his see, Agnellus presents his highly idiosyncratic view of history. The work is filled with anecdotes, miracle stories, and mini-sermons, as well as information about historical events and artistic and architectural patronage, all of which have made it an invaluable source for those interested in early medieval Italy.

Ravenna's heyday was in the fifth through eighth centuries, when it was the capital first of the western Roman empire, then of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, and finally of the Byzantine exarchate of Italy. By the time Agnellus was writing, the city and its leaders were struggling to maintain power and prestige in the new Carolingian regime. Agnellus' work is usually used as a source of information about the more illustrious past, and it has been especially useful to art historians who investigate the remarkable monuments that still survive in Ravenna. However, it also provides crucial information about the Carolingian world in which Agnellus lived, a time when the marvels of Ravenna were being copied or literally carried off by emperors who sought to recreate Ravenna's imperial splendor.

This translation makes this fascinating text accessible for the first time to an English-speaking audience. A substantial introduction to Agnellus and his composition of the text is included along with a full bibliography. The maps printed in the book are also available on the web .


Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis is a Visiting Lecturer in the Departments of History and Art History at Indiana University. She has prepared the definitive Latin text of the work, which will be published by Brepols. She is also the editor of Historiography in the Middle Ages.


"This volume is much more than a translation of Agnellus's Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis. It includes what amounts to an important short monograph on this early medieval text, in addition to extensive and careful annotation. As such, it is an important contribution to scholarship on early medieval Italian ecclesiastical history. . . . An extremely well done volume that makes a substantial contribution to scholarship in several areas: the analysis of early medieval texts, the artistic and architectural history of Ravenna, and the ecclesiastical genre of gesta episcoporum. "--Maureen C. Miller, Catholic Historical Review

"Deliyannis is to be congratulated for producing the first full English translation of the main source for early medieval Ravenna. Her version of an often convoluted and obscure Latin text is accurate and lucid and is complemented by a wide-ranging introduction.Finally a distinctive, acerbic and often amusing work which vividly illuminates not only artistic and ecclesiastical developments but also the mentalities of early medieval churchmen and their urban congregations has been made accessible to a wide audience of scholars and students."--Thomas S. Brown, University of Edinburgh

"This is an important and very useful Latin text, and its translation is highly significant. . . . The scholarship is impressively sound. Deliyannis demonstrates an amazing mastery of a number of

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  • Additional Details
  • Additional Details
    Product Specs
    • SKU: 9780813213583
    • Manufacturer: Catholic Univ Of Amer Pr
    • Language of Text: English
    • ISBN 13: 9780813213583
    • Publication Date: 04/01/2004
    • Format: Paperback
    • Author: Agnellus
    • Page Count: 424
    • Width: 5.50 inches
    • Height: 1.00 inches
    • Length: 8.56 inches
    • Weight: 0.98 pounds
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