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Beyond the Frontiers of Latin Christendom: The Avignon Papacy and the East (AvOri)
Start date: Feb 1, 2013, End date: Jan 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This research conjugates the history of the Avignon Church and the history of East West relations in the Late Middle Ages, shedding new light on the intellectual debates that developed within the Avignon Curia concerning Greeks, Armenians, Mongols, and Muslims.Despite an increasing scholarly interest in these research areas, studies on the Avignon Papacy have been characterized by an overwhelmingly local approach, whereas the relations of the medieval Papacy with different Eastern populations have not been sufficiently integrated within a comprehensive investigation on the Orient. This research aims to fill the gaps in the scholarly literature by examining how intellectual debates that developed within the Avignon Curia contributed to the shaping of Western ideas about the East.Based on the scrutiny of diplomatic sources, theological treatises, and travel reports, the study will shed light on the Western perception of the East in the Late Middle Ages from the perspective of intellectual history. Relying on comparative and interdisciplinary research methods, it will produce a comprehensive overview of the cultural reception of the Orient by the Avignon Curia, centered on the shaping of ideas about four major populations. The results will advance our understanding of the intellectual and political history of the Avignon Papacy through placing it for the first time in a wider, transnational context. The focus on the fourteenth century raises issues of continuities and discontinuities between medieval and modern European expansion. By applying the analytical category of Frontier to the Avignon context it will be possible to establish direct links with later European expansion into the New World and measure the success and endurance of medieval theoretical models developed by Roman Catholic Church. Thus, the proposed research will make key contributions to intellectual history, cultural history, history of inter-confessional relations, Church history and religion.
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