Forgery and memory from the Middle Ages to modernity: Bishop Pilgrim at Passau




Roach, Levi

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Few regions or periods in history can match medieval Europe for the sheer scale of documentary forgery. Whether it be in large bishoprics or small local abbeys, churchmen of the period were busy inventing the past on a truly epic scale. This talk takes the example of Pilgrim of Passau to explore the nature of this fad for falsification. Pilgrim was bishop of Passau in south-western Bavarian between 970 and 991, during which time he produced an impressive set of false papal privileges. These claimed that his bishopric was not only first religious foundation in the region, but also the rightful regional archbishopric. Yet there is little evidence that anyone outside Passau ever saw or read these texts. So why did he produce them and what did he hope to achieve?