Transcending Institutions: A Medieval Way to Individual Freedom


February 26, 2018 / 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
3335 Dwinelle, UC Berkeley, CA

Gert Melville, Senior Professor of Medieval History and Director of the Research Centre for the Comparative History of Religious Orders, Technische Universität Dresden

In this talk, I will speak about a wide field of my current research which concerns the medieval phenomenon of (in German) “Institutionstranszendenz.” I intend to present some specific cases, combined with fundamental reflections about medieval freedom of individuals beyond and against the ecclesiastical rules — a freedom which is (paradoxically) legitimized by a direct communication with God. Some basic references are Saint Paul’s words “ubi spiritus Domini, ibi libertas” and “iusto lex non est posita” which had an important reception in both the practical and theological, juridical or social structures of the Middle Ages. Finally, the lecture deals, on the one hand, with a very problematic dimension of the institutionality of the Church and, on the other, with a specific form of the medieval development of individuality.

Gert Melville is Senior Professor of Medieval History and Director of the Research Centre for the Comparative History of Religious Orders at Technische Universität Dresden.

Co-sponsored by the Department of History, the Program in Medieval Studies, and the San Francisco Theological Seminary / Graduate Theological Union