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March 7, 2007
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v2.1 Reference

The Deeds of Pope Innocent III

By an Anonymous Author

Translated by James M. Powell
The Deeds of Pope Innocent III, composed before 1210 by an anonymous member of the papal curia, provides a unique window into the activities, policies, and strategies of the papacy and the curia during one of the most important periods in the history of the medieval church. Innocent III, who became pope in 1198 and reigned until 1216, has long been regarded as one of the most important popes in history.
This partial biography covering the first ten years of Innocent's pontificate was written by a cleric close to the pope and familiar with the curia. The translator, James M. Powell, suggests that it was written by the canonist and later cardinal Peter of Benevento. Peter had a profound knowledge of southern Italy and closely followed Innocent's efforts to unify the churches of the East and West and to promote the crusade.
Though the discussion of Roman politics found in these pages is one of the most valuable sources available to us, the work has long been neglected and only recently has begun to receive the attention it deserves. Never before has it been translated into any modern language. It is a treasure of contemporary letters, arranged by the author to reinforce his interpretation of the events discussed. The results are new insights that will inspire both students and scholars.
The translator provides an engaging introduction and adds numerous explanatory notes throughout the book. Those who seek a fuller understanding of the development of the papacy during a period of great change in medieval religious history will find this work essential.

About the Author

James M. Powell is Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at Syracuse University. He is the author or editor of twelve books and has published numerous articles. His most recent books include Tolerance and Intolerance: Social Conflict in the Age of the Crusades and Innocent III: Vicar of Christ or Lord of the World? (CUA Press, 1994).


The Gesta of Pope Innocent III, an important and oft-quoted source for Innocent's early pontificate, had remained—until now—useful only to specialists in church history. Powell, a widely published (and respected) medievalist, has produced an English translation of this text that broadens its accessibility to the nonmedieval Latin reading public while maintaining its usefulness to the scholarly community. Students will love that the translation is a noncritical edition whose text is only occasionally interrupted by footnotes. Scholars will appreciate the footnotes, referencing both primary sources and modern research, supplemented with a carefully selected bibliography. Both groups will benefit from an introduction that prepares readers for the text, clearly indicating and explaining those events included (and excluded) from the admirable, and definitive translation. Essential. All libraries." — R.T. Ingoglia, Choice

"The Gesta is one of the most important sources for Innocent's early pontificate, which, with its emphasis on pastoral and constitutional reform, was a milestone in the history of medieval papacy.... For its clarity and usefulness, this translation deserves high praise. It will be indispensable for anyone with an interest in papal history or the history of the Fourth Crusade, and especially for students or for classroom use."—Frans vie Liere, The Historian

" At a time when few students can read Latin, this translation is to be welcomed...."- Jane Sayers, Catholic Historical Review

"[A] fascinating text for exploring attitudes to the role of the papacy at the turn of the thirteenth century.... [A] valuable teaching tool for years to come."— Frances Andrews, Ecclesiastical History
The Catholic University of America Press

9780813214887 : the-deeds-of-pope-innocent-iii-powell
Paperback / softback
286 Pages
$32.95 USD

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