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Lander history professor participates in international conference

February 27, 2009
Figueira
Dr. Robert Figueira
Dr. Robert C. Figueira, professor of history at Lander University, recently took part in an international colloquium in Paris that was dedicated to the history of papal legates from the 11th through 16th centuries. As a research scholar in medieval history, Figueira was invited to address the first session of the conference.

"I am honored to have been recognized by my colleagues as an expert on this subject," said Figueira. "These legates - valuable assistants to the medieval popes - have been the object of my study for nearly four decades."

According to Figueira, legates were and are deputies of the Roman pontiff who are empowered to exercise some of the pope's authority in the various local districts or missions that they are assigned. In a pre-technological era they served as the pope's eyes, ears, voice and strong right arm in projecting papal power throughout Latin Christendom and beyond. In matters of diplomacy, the legates represented the pope in negotiations with kings, princes and secular governments.

"My paper outlined how legal doctrine regarding legates changed during the 13th century," said Figueira. "Legation went from being an 'occasion' to becoming a fixed 'office' whose incumbent's jurisdiction could continue even after the pope who empowered him died. In that case, only a future pope could decide whether to recall him."

The academic conference was sponsored by the Paris Workshop for Western Medieval Studies (LAMOP), which is headquartered at the University of Paris 1 Panthèon-Sorbonne. Twenty-three other scholars from France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Spain, Hungary and the Czech Republic presented public lectures on a variety of topics related to the colloquium's theme. Figueira was the only non-European speaker. His lecture was titled "Medieval Papal Legation and the Canonical Concept of Office."

The conference met Feb. 12-14 at two venues: the Institut de France/ Foundation del Duca, near the Arc de Triomphe, and the recently renovated Collège des Bernardins, in the Latin Quarter.

Figueira's participation was funded in part by LAMOP and by the Lander Faculty Development Fund. Work is under way to publish many of the lectures from the conference in a book.