Conscience and Authority in the Medieval Church

ISBN : 9780198208839

Alexander Murray
224 ページ
156 x 222 mm

Alexander Murray has long had an intellectual interest in the history of religion - struggling between his inbuilt anti-clericism and his pronounced monastic leanings. The five essays in Conscience and Authority in the Medieval Church take on this dialectic, addressing the difficult relationship between private conscience and public authority in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In any organization, political, military, commercial, or religious, the relationship of conscience and authority is always potentially fraught, and can create dilemmas both for those in authority and those without. This volume records how our European predecessors approached and dealt with the same dilemmas as we face in the modern world.


1. Confession before 1215
2. Confession as a historical source in the thirteenth century
3. Counselling in medieval confession
4. Archbishop and mendicants in thirteenth-century Pisa
5. Excommunication and Conscience in the Middle Ages


Born in Oxford, Alexander Murray was brought up until the age of 16 mainly in London, with a period of evacuation to Cumberland during the war. When he was 16, his barrister father inherited a farm in Cumberland, where he and his three brothers farmed in the holidays and boarded at Bedales during terms. At Bedales Murray learned to love history and music, with the consequence that, at 18, he had to choose between becoming a flautist in a professional orchestra or accepting a scholarship at New College Oxford. After hesitation, he chose the latter, and after two years' National Service (in the Royal Artillery) he continued his academic career. From graduate supervision work under R. W. Southern he went on to teach from 1961 to 1963 in Leeds University, and from 1963 to 1980 at Newcastle, not too far from the family farm. In 1980 he became a Fellow and Tutor at University College, Oxford. Except for interludes at Harvard and in Paris Murray has been there ever since.