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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines Frankish church councils through the lens of institutional history. An institution, however, is only the sum of the human bodies that allow it to execute its mission. The minimal biographical information we possess about individual prelates in the Frankish kingdoms makes it easy to forget the men behind the institution. Most episcopal attendees took their conciliar obligations seriously, and were willing to risk the hazards of travel and the neglect of their own civitates to answer the summons of the convoker. The Frankish bishops were aware that they were contributing to a body known as "canon law", but their understanding of it was far different from that held by high medieval canon lawyers. Gratian's concordance of the canons, followed closely by glosses and scholarly commentaries, turned what had previously been a heterogeneous and amorphous morass of overlapping and sometimes conflicting decrees into coherent and accessible legal system.

Keywords: canon law; Frankish church councils



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