Lingering loyalties. Re-evaluating intra-religious mobility in the twelfth-century west

Start - End 
2018 - 2022 (ongoing)
Department of History
Research Focus 



This project will re-evaluate intra-religious mobility – understood as the phenomenon of transitioning from one Christian religious order to another – in a period (1050-1230) when the growing variety of forms of religious life, with its potential for greater intra-religious fluidity, was matched by an opposite tendency to prevent or limit transitus – as it was called – and to tighten the boundaries between orders. Through an integrated analysis of different types of sources, and in particular by juxtaposing polemical and legal texts, which discuss transitus in an abstract way, and attestations of real-life cases of transitions in sources such as letters, lives and chronicles, the project aims to challenge the dominant interpretative paradigm for transitus, according to which it involved a radical conversion which completely transformed the individuals’ identity and reoriented their institutional, ideological and personal loyalties. It will demonstrate the hitherto little acknowledged influence of past religious memberships on the individuals’ perception of

themselves and of others, on their social contacts, skills, knowledges, behavior and mindset. By opposing a bottom-up approach to current top-down narratives, this will allow a fundamental reassessment of this period’s religious history, while offering a trend-setting precedent for a new way of studying intra- and inter-religious conversions, and transitions between high-involvement social groups in general.