Alumni Lecture: Jonathan R. Lyon (University of Chicago): "Corrupt Officials and the Problem of Medieval 'Government'"


Location: 715 Hesburgh Library (Main Reading Room) (View on

Join the Medieval Institute for an alumni lecture with Jonathan R. Lyon (Ph.D. '05). Professor Lyon is the Sorin and Imran Siddiqui Professor of Medieval History and the College at the University of Chicago and graduated from Notre Dame in 2005 with a Ph.D. in History. 

The talk will be held in-person in the Medieval Institute Reading Room and broadcast from our YouTube channel.

About the Talk

Most medieval historians are in agreement that we should not apply the terms "state" and "government" to the polities of Latin Christendom in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. However, there is much less agreement about the usage of these terms when discussing the kingdoms and other polities of subsequent centuries. Were there states with effective governments in Europe during the later middle ages? This talk will reflect on this question by considering the problem of corruption and the development of ideas of official accountability. It will begin by drawing on examples from across Latin Christendom between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, but it will then expand its perspective—both geographically and chronologically—in order to situate medieval Europe more firmly in a global history of corruption and accountable office-holding.

About the Speaker

Jonathan R. Lyon received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2005. He has been a faculty member at the University of Chicago since 2006. His first book, Princely Brothers and Sisters: The Sibling Bond in German Politics, 1100–1250 (Cornell, 2013), won the 2017 John Nicholas Brown Prize for the best first book from the Medieval Academy of America. His most recent book, Corruption, Protection and Justice in Medieval Europe: A Thousand-Year History (Cambridge, 2022), argues that corrupt practices of protection and justice were a persistent problem at the local level in Europe throughout the period from 750 to 1800. He has held fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Austrian Science Fund, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the J. William Fulbright Program, and the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Foundation.