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Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450$
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Maijastina Kahlos

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190067250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

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The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power

The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power

(p.50) 4 The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power
Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450

Maijastina Kahlos

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the limits that the aristocracy in general and the landowning elites at the local level set to imperial and ecclesiastical power. In late Roman society, aristocrats had remarkable power, economic resources, and prestige, especially on the local level. The wishes of the central administration and the local realities were often in tension with each other. In some cases, imperial decrees could be ignored in the local setting if they were not well received. Local authorities could even decide not to enforce a law. In the local realities of dissident groups, the patronage relationships were decisive: a powerful landowner could influence his tenants to either embrace Christianity or retain old practices. There was often a conflict of interests between local landowners and bishops in their struggle for hegemony at the regional level. Bishops expected Christian landowners to put an end to pagan practices on their estates, and they complained about the laxity if they did not.

Keywords:   aristocracy, landowners, tenants, patronage, local realities, local authorities, laxity, ecclesiastical power, imperial power, dissident groups

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