This project will offer the first comprehensive and comparative analysis of the use of speech acts, ritual acts and spatial arrangements in the construction of episcopal authority in the ‘long eleventh century’ (roughly 980–1120). Generally regarded as a key transitional period in the development of episcopal office, this period, because of its instability and turbulence, offers unique opportunities to study how exactly bishops relied on a wide range of performative acts to establish, maintain, and when necessary restore, their religious and institutional authority, and why they occasionally failed in this ambition. Drawing on concepts and methodologies from linguistic studies, ritual studies and spatial, iconographic and symbolic analyses, the project will look at prelates from eight dioceses in the former middle kingdom of Lotharingia, a region widely regarded as a political, economic and cultural crossroads of Europe. Whereas previous assessments of episcopal self-representation have relied first and foremost on the production and discourse of texts, the focus of the present study will be squarely on ‘real-life’ conduct. This approach will lead to a significantly improved understanding of the liberties and constraints of episcopal office, and of the role of symbolic behaviour in the construction of real-life hierarchies.