ITINERANT KINGSHIP AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE REALM
Itinerant kingship refers to government in which a king carries out all the functions and symbolic representations of governing by periodically or constantly travelling throughout the areas of his dominion. Although especially well documented and most studied for the Frankish–Carolingian and the German realms of early medieval Europe, itinerant kingship existed throughout all of Europe during most of the middle ages. In fact, in the middle ages whoever exercised any kind of dominion – kings, dukes and counts; popes, bishops and abbots – all found themselves constantly under way to carry out the manifold functions of their office. Moreover, while particularly prevalent in medieval Europe, this method of governing existed beyond the geographical and cultural boundaries of Europe and lasted in some places beyond the end of the European middle ages.
One finds itinerant rulership in Indonesia, in the South Sea Islands and in Africa, where it survived into the early twentieth century. For example, the fourteenth-century kings of Java practised an itinerant kingship that was rooted firmly within the intensely hierarchical and mystical nature of Hinduism. The rulers of the Hawaiian and Tahitian islands made circumambulations in connection with religious cult festivals. In Morocco, from the late seventeenth century until the early twentieth, the resident kings, under the influence of Islamic concepts of theocracy and struggle, led a royal progress that was combative in nature and that focused on the demonstration and exercise of personal power. Likewise, itinerant kingships existed into the nineteenth century in Ethiopia and in the kingdoms throughout the highland lake region of East Central Africa.
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