“Thanks to his public career and prolific correspondence, Cardinal Peter Damian ought to be one of the best known characters of the eleventh century. But the old hermit who claimed that if Christ were to return to earth he would find neither law nor justice at the papal court was no predictable team player. Investigations of his sometimes stormy relationships with other reformers can shed light on the early stages of the Gregorian Reform. William McCready’s Odiosa sanctitas investigates the Pietro Mezzobarba affair, the trial by unauthorized ordeal of an allegedly simoniacal bishop of Florence, a case that ultimately involved the whole Roman reform party. This is an enjoyable book for readers interested in the political and ecclesiastical turmoil of the eleventh century. McCready systematically assembles and skillfully wrestles with (sometimes obscure) sources to reveal conflicts of values and personalities as Peter and other reformers attempt to promote justice in a world they cannot control.”
- John M. Howe, Texas Tech University
In 1067, Bishop Pietro Mezzabarba was accused of simony. Cardinal-bishop St Peter Damian’s involvement in this affair provides the vantage point for a new reading of the latter part of his career and of selected aspects of his thought.
William D. McCready is Emeritus Professor of History at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.