“The Genre of Late Antique Papal Letters: The So-called ‘Decretals’ of Leo the Great” (Matthew Hoskin, UBC)

Pope Leo the Great’s letters demonstrate that the mediaeval and modern concept of the “decretal” is not applicable in Late Antiquity, although scholars say that seventeen of them are decretals. Not only would more than seventeen letters fit the concept, many treated as decretals by later tradition would not. Using structure, style, reception, and manuscripts of Leo’s letters, I challenge the genre of “decretal”, seeking to integrate papal letters into late antique Latin literature rather than mediaeval canon law literature.