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The Empty See As Liminal Phenomenon

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Chapter Summary

The aim of this chapter is to provide a better understanding of the ecclesiastical transitional process by framing ecclesiastical interregna within the anthropological concept of liminality. The chapter outlines the usefulness of applying the theoretical models proposed by Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner to the analysis. It addresses the liminal qualities of the papacy itself and of the office of pope, and then the liminal quality of the interregnum and its symptomatic violence. The model presented by the concept of liminality allows one to construe the Empty See as a fixed institutional challenge that usually ended up strengthening the institutions of the church and the pope. The chapter illustrates what Edward Muir calls the "dialectic of violence," and liminal violence. In his book Lust for Liberty, Cohn measures the impact the Black Death had on the level and frequency of revolts in the Middle Ages.

Keywords: Arnold van Gennep; black death; ecclesiastical transition; Edward Muir; empty see; liminal violence; medieval Catholic liturgy; papalinterregnum; Samuel K. Cohn; Victor Turner



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    Raiding Saint Peter: Empty Sees, Violence, and the Initiation of the Great Western Schism (1378) — Recommend this title to your library
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