On this page you will find an overview of my main research projects, past and present. For a full list of the funded projects I have participated in, please refer to the relevant section of my curriculum vitae.
Revisiting the Cathar Manuscripts (2015-present)
In this follow-up to the project “Sources for the Study of Dissenting Religious Movements in Medieval Western Christianity with a Special Focus on Catharism”, I reconsider the history and interpretation of the extant Cathar manuscripts. So far, four articles have been finished: David Zbíral, “A Compilation from Old Testament Sapiential Books in the Cathar Manuscript of the Liber de duobus principiis: Critical Edition with Commentary”; David Zbíral, “Geneze rukopisu ‘Knihy o dvou principech’ a katarský výklad Bible v jeho doplňcích a margináliích”; Anne Brenon – David Zbíral, “Le codex cathare occitan de Lyon: Un livre de Pèire Autier?” (forthcoming 2016); and David Zbíral, “Heretical Hands at Work: Reconsidering the Genesis of a Cathar Manuscript (Ms. Firenze, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Conv. soppr. J.II.44)” (forthcoming 2017).
Scholastic Rationality and its “Other”: Searching for the Place of Cathar Dualism in Theological Discourses on Good and Evil, Society, and the World, 1160-1300 (2014-present)
This research project, touching simultaneously upon anthropology, historical sociology, the study of religions, and the history of ideas, intends to identify the place of dualist (Cathar, “Manichean”) heresy in Christian theological discourses between 1160 and 1300. The overall idea is that Cathar heresy, characterized by the belief in two gods and by the strict rejection of the world and the body, was a preeminent “other” used to define a new, relatively world-affirming version of Christianity, and to delegitimize some ancient forms of radical Christian asceticism incompatible with the new “socio-constructive” rationality of scholasticism.
The initial phase of the project was supported by a “Research in Paris” scholarship from the Mairie de Paris, which enabled me to conduct a six-month-long research in Paris in 2014.
Sources for the Study of Dissenting Religious Movements in Medieval Western Christianity with a Special Focus on Catharism (2012-2015)
This project was supported by a grant from the Czech Science Foundation (project No. P401/12/0657).
The aim of this project was to conduct in-depth research into sources on the dissident religious movements in Western medieval Christianity in the 12th-14th centuries, with a special focus on radically ascetic groups in Languedoc, Italy, and the Rhineland. The result of the project is a book of Czech translations of sources with detailed introductions and footnotes (now it is being finished and will be published in 2017), a substantial reinterpretation of the genesis, date, and historical context of several manuscripts and sources (mainly Lyon, BM, ms. PA 36, and Firenze, BNCF, Conv. soppr., ms. J.II.44), and a critical edition of one hitherto unpublished Cathar compilation from Old Testament sapiential books.
Some of the publications can be downloaded from the Articles section.
Inquisitional Concepts, Classifications, and Identities and Their Legacy in the Scholarly Tradition (2009-2011)
This project was supported by a grant from the Czech Science Foundation (project No. 401/09/P191).
The Inquisition was one of the most influential institutions in medieval and early modern Europe. As John H. Arnold has shown in his influential book Inquisition and Power: Catharism and the Confessing Subject in Medieval Languedoc (2001), its success was due not only to legal innovations, but also to the formation and enforcement of categories and identities. This project aimed at understanding more precisely how the inquisitional discourse functioned, and to establish how biographical qualitative research in the social sciences, as well as research into “ego-documents”, can help in our understanding of the interaction that took place in heresy trials. The project consisted in eight detailed case studies based on inquisitional records from Italy and Languedoc (1270-1330).
Some of the case studies can be downloaded from the Articles section.