The Council of Carthage of 525 and the making of post-imperial Episcopal authority


This article examines the overlooked Council of Carthage of 525 to show how its convener, Bishop Boniface of Carthage, used the council in an attempt to re-establish power over North Africa's Nicene bishops, who lacked clear lines of authority due to Vandal Homoian rule. This article reconstructs the council's dramatic, complicated, and highly orchestrated two days of discussion. The bishops spent day one re-stating Boniface's basis of authority and assembling earlier canons into precedents to confirm his power. On day two, the bishops heard a complex jurisdictional case involving a certain Abbot Peter and his monastery, which Boniface used to confirm the power the council had granted him. When this council is discussed, Abbot Peter's case is stripped from its context as a simple precedent for medieval privileges and immunities. I demonstrate how Merovingian Gallic bishops made the council into a precedent by ignoring Boniface's goals. Notably, the article illustrates how a North African late antique bishop's attempt to expand his power outside of state support became an ideal way for early medieval Gallic bishops to claim continuity with the past that actually created a break in their present.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Journal of Late Antiquity