The early medieval cult of saints has been the object of many illuminating studies during the past decades. However, one aspect in need of more research is the role of the cults in the building of early states in Europe, a phenomenon that is often, somewhat erroneously, referred to as the cult of national saints. The saints were powerful assets in the attempts of kings, dukes and bishops at achieving social integration. This article analyses the situation in the duchy of Benevento in southern Italy, home of the important pilgrimage site of Monte Sant'Angelo and of the relics of the church of St Sophia in Benevento. It is demonstrated how the dukes and princes of Benevento consciously used various religious elements in society in order to strengthen their own position. In the ninth century, as the local bishops grew stronger, the saints gradually became associated with them rather than with the princes. The cult of saints was an important part in the creation and manifestation of political influence.
|Status||Published - 1993|