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  • Cited by 7
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Couser, Jonathan 2017. “Let Them Make Him Duke to Rule that People”: The Law of the Bavarians and Regime Change in Early Medieval Europe. Law and History Review, Vol. 30, Issue. 03, p. 865.

    Costen, Michael D and Costen, Nicholas P 2017. Trade and Exchange in Anglo-Saxon Wessex, cad600–780. Medieval Archaeology, Vol. 60, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    MacLean, Simon 2017. History and Politics in Late Carolingian and Ottonian Europe.

    Abulafia, David 2017. Islam in the history of early Europe. European Review, Vol. 5, Issue. 03, p. 241.

    Brown, Warren C. 2017. On theGesta municipaliaand the Public Validation of Documents in Frankish Europe. Speculum, Vol. 87, Issue. 2, p. 345.

    Melve, Leidulf 2017. Literacy --Aurality --Orality A Survey of Recent Research into the Orality/Literacy Complex of the Latin Middle Ages (600-1500). Symbolae Osloenses, Vol. 78, Issue. 1, p. 143.

    BLAYDES, LISA and CHANEY, ERIC 2017. The Feudal Revolution and Europe's Rise: Political Divergence of the Christian West and the Muslim World before 1500 CE. American Political Science Review, Vol. 107, Issue. 01, p. 16.

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Book description

This volume of The New Cambridge Medieval History covers most of the period of Frankish and Carolingian dominance in western Europe. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the authors consider developments in Europe as a whole, from Ireland to the Bosphorus and Iceland to Gibraltar. The chapters offer an examination of the interaction between rulers and ruled, of how power and authority actually worked, and of the impact of these on the society and culture of Europe as a whole. The volume is divided into four parts. Part I encompasses the events and political developments in the whole of the British Isles, the west and east Frankish kingdoms, Scandinavia, the Slavic and Balkan regions, Spain, Italy, and those aspects of Byzantine and Muslim history which impinged on the west between c.700 and c.900. Parts II, III and IV cover common themes and topics within the general categories of government and institutions, the church and society, and cultural and intellectual development.


‘ … a very fine achievement … The volume is impressive in its range … we are also offered new and challenging views … the volume as a whole is extremely impressive.’

Source: The Times Higher Education Supplement

‘Chapter by chapter, the quality is extremely high … the clarity and vigour with which expertise is presented by almost every contributor will come as a welcome surprise to … the lay reader.’

R. I. Moore - Newcastle University

‘This is a massive and meticulously edited book, containing an impressive series of readily comprehensible expositions in lucid prose … there is no doubt that the book will be of immense use to students and will immensely reassure their teachers, while at the same time presenting these important centuries to a wider, albeit studious, public.’

Source: Early Medieval Europe

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Page 1 of 2

  • 1 - Introduction: sources and interpretation
    pp 1-17
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    A hierarchy of scripts, descending from the capitals of the Roman script system, through uncials and half-uncials to minuscule scripts, flourished triumphantly in Carolingian manuscripts of the ninth century, though is to be observed in English and Frankish manuscripts of the eighth century as well. Fundamental changes in the rites associated with an individual's last illness and death, for example, culminated in the creation of a common and coherent, if complex, death ritual throughout the Frankish realm. To appreciate as well as to assess the accuracy of the early medieval historiographers' interpretation of their own past, it is needed to bring in other categories of source material, as well as non-Frankish perspectives on the progress of events to balance the predominance of the Frankish versions. The Carolingians established the principle of the personality of the law in the early ninth century.
  • (a) - England, 700–900
    pp 18-42
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    The concepts of the 'Heptarchy' and of the 'Bretwalda' are so deeply engrained in the historiography of early Anglo-Saxon England that they could never be removed from any discussion of the subject. It is questionable whether either concept would have had much meaning in the eighth or the ninth century, and it must be said that there are other ways of approaching the complexities of political history in the period, which proceed from different assumptions and which promise to explain developments in somewhat different terms. It seems clear that the Tribal Hidage is in some sense a 'Mercian' document, if only because the survey proceeds from Mercia itself. The course of events in the ninth century could be understood in its simplest terms as a story of the 'rise of Wessex' from foundations laid by King Egbert in the first quarter of the century to the achievements of King Alfred the Great in its closing decades.
  • (b) - Ireland, Scotland and Wales, c. 700 to the early eleventh century
    pp 43-63
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    Ireland, Scotland and Wales were all Celtic countries, but their respective medieval populations did not know this and their Celticity is not the reason for grouping them together. The tenth century Dublin-York axis brought commercial urbanism to Ireland, the eleventh-century kings used its resources to fund their ambition to rule the entire island of Ireland, and this great struggle was the leitmotiv of Irish history until the Norman attack. Monasteries formed federations in the late seventh and eighth centuries. Society is seen, from an aristocratic perspective, in class terms: kings, lords and commons. In 700 the kingdom of Scotland was occupied by three peoples, Dál Riata, Britons of Strathclyde and Picts, and under pressure from a fourth, the Northumbrians. In Wales rex is the universal term for king, in literature and epigraphy. Like Ireland, Wales was raided from the Irish Sea. In the eleventh century, Wales became an unstable land of unresolved segmentary struggles and quick-moving dynastic warfare.
  • (c) - England and the Continent
    pp 64-84
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    This chapter provides the understanding of England and the Continent in the eighth and ninth centuries. It concentrations of the evidence, the context for and activities of the Anglo-Saxon missionaries on the Continent, the establishment of new religious foundations in Hesse, Thuringia and Franconia, the Anglo-Saxons' contributions to the Frankish church, their interaction with Frankish rulers and bishops, and their legacy for subsequent connections across the Channel in the ninth century and afterwards. The eighth century in England and Francia was a period of rapid political change. It saw the emergence in England of Mercia, and in Francia of the Carolingian family whose wealth and interests were focused in the Rhine, Moselle and Meuse region, that is, the region where the English missionaries were initially most active. Information about the early life of the first of these missionaries, Willibrord, is meagre. The eighth- and ninth-century relations between England and the Continent were personal connections and local influences that were predominant.
  • 3 - Frankish Gaul to 814
    pp 85-109
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    The central theme in the history of eighth-century Francia is the rising power of its Carolingian rulers, above all of Charles Martel (715-41 ), Pippin III (741-68) and Charlemagne (768-814). Until the late seventh century Aquitaine had been an integral part of Frankish Gaul. The inventories of church lands, which later served as the basis for accusing Charles Martel of having plundered the church, were produced as part of a developing process of estate management, but which was much stimulated by the increasing use of written records from the mid-eighth century onwards. At the level of political and military history, the growth of Carolingian power may be understood in terms of an initial military success which allowed Charles Martel to take advantage of a balance of power operating progressively in his favour. In the south of Frankish Gaul, the old Visigothic province of Septimania had been added to Frankish territory and the Franks were able to intervene in Italy.
  • 4 - The Frankish kingdoms, 814–898: the West
    pp 110-141
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    In July 843, the Treaty of Verdun was agreed between Lothar, Louis and Charles: it was a trade-off between the competing interests of those Carolingians and also of their men. Carolingian family politics have predominated. They provide the context in which other themes can be considered. From the king's point of view, the Scandinavians' impact was serious. It depleted the royal treasury the largest single payment of the reign. Clearly enmeshed with Carolingian family politics is the history of the regna within Charles the Bald's realm. Charles' realm was just that: the regnum Karoli. Aquitaine was the largest and politically most important of the component Regna. Italy and the East and West Frankish kingdoms had by contrast had continuous histories since 843. They did not fragment further in 888. In East Francia, the deposition of Charles the Fat resulted from uncertainties over the succession and the play of faction. In the west Charles was abandoned for other reasons.
  • 5 - The Frankish Kingdoms, 817–911: the East and Middle Kingdoms
    pp 142-168
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    Louis the Pious, however, after the death of Pippin in 838, tried to confine Louis the German once again to Bavaria (839) in order to promote the interests of Charles. It was from Bavaria that the East Frankish kingdom was created. The Carolingian brothers' mutual hostility encouraged the Vikings to redouble their attacks on the Frankish kingdoms, which affected especially Lothar's territory. Even after 843, Bavaria still remained Louis' most important power base. When Lothar I died in 856 his Middle Kingdom was divided among his sons. When Lothar II died in 869, Charles II immediately invaded the Middle Kingdom while his brother was detained at Regensburg. The inheritance of Lotharingia altered the demands on the East Frankish king, for now he had to beat back the Vikings. For the first time the western frontier of Lotharingia appeared as the frontier of the East Frankish kingdom; the Treaty of Ribemont (880) sealed the agreement.
  • 6 - Fines Imperii: the Marches
    pp 169-189
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    This chapter offers an inverse picture of the Carolingian polity. The brief survey of all the frontier regions of the Carolingian empire reveals some persistent themes in Carolingian frontier policy which transcend the individuality of each peripheral region. In the first place, negotiation combined with a readiness to use force to prosecute Carolingian interests always characterised Frankish strategy. Secondly, the Carolingians participated in the common early medieval diplomatic practices of receiving, entertaining and dismissing envoys; royal gift-exchange; demanding hostages to keep at court; extracting tribute and oaths of loyalty; welcoming and sheltering political exiles from other kingdoms; and concluding truces and treaties. Thirdly, the Carolingian imperial rhetoric of a Christian, Latin empire broke down at the frontier. The nineteenth-century efforts by the French and the Germans each to appropriate Charlemagne for themselves contributed to their respective efforts to build the historiography of the nation-state.
  • 7 - The Vikings in Francia and Anglo-Saxon England to 911
    pp 190-201
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    Two areas of the Carolingian empire came under attack are Frisia, and Aquitaine. In Frisia the Vikings' principal targets were trading centres, particularly the prosperous market of Dorestad, which was first sacked in 834. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle provides nearly all the information about the Viking raids. From 876 to 911, the Scandinavians capitalised on the position of strength to colonise areas of England and Francia. In 876 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contained the significant report: 'In this year Halfdan shared out the lands of the Northumbrians, and they proceeded to plough and to support themselves'. Scandinavian chiefs ruled large tracts of Frisia for long periods without any apparent attempt by their followers to colonise the region, and until the mid-870s the armies which occupied Frankish or Anglo-Saxon territory over many years likewise gave no indication of wishing to take political control. The raids were motivated by militant paganism, there is equally little support for this in contemporary sources.
  • 8 - Scandinavia, c. 700–1066
    pp 202-227
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    At the beginning of the eighth century Scandinavia was politically amorphous. The first recorded attempt to evangelise in Scandinavia took place at the beginning of the eighth century when Willibrord extended his activity into Denmark. Another century passed before Christianity took permanent root in Denmark and even longer in Sweden. According to Snorre the first successful attempt to unite Norway under a native king was made by Harald Fairhair who is said to have been the son of a petty king in Vestfold. The dynasty to which Gorm and Harald belonged is generally called the Jellinge dynasty because of its association with the monuments there. Olav Haraldsson did not bring large forces back to Norway from England so much as substantial means. In Norway, Magnus took up the idea of a North Sea empire and after Harthaknut's death secured power in Denmark. In Denmark, Svein Estridson managed to establish himself as king.
  • 9 - Slavs and Bulgars
    pp 228-248
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    The successive expeditions of Constantine V against the Bulgars in the later years of his reign are mostly depicted in Byzantine chronicles as fatuous and vainglorious affairs. The turn of the eighth and the ninth centuries is celebrated for a series of invasions and counter invasions on the part of Byzantines and Bulgars. In 827 a Bulgar fleet sailed up the river Drava and an attempt was made to wrest control of the local Slavs from the Franks. Imperial propaganda inclined to treat the adoption of the Orthodox creed by the Bulgar khan as a triumph for the Byzantine state: Boris and his people had now submitted to the emperor. The church in Bulgaria gained the ambivalent status of an 'autocephalous' archbishopric: the only other such see encompassed the island of Cyprus. To all appearances, the Byzantines and the Bulgarians were united in the body of Christ.
  • 10 - The Muslims in Europe
    pp 249-271
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    In the western half of the Mediterranean, the Muslims were able to establish sustainable states on the European shores. The Arab assaults on Sicily were brought to a halt by the great Berber rebellion of 741. The history of the Muslim conquest of Sicily in the ninth century is largely based on much later Arabic chronicles, notably the compilations of Ibn al-Athīr and Ibn Idhārī. The main arena for Arab raids was mainland southern Italy. The earliest phases of Arabic historical literature from Muslim Spain, known as al-Andalus in the Arabic sources, are represented by akhbār, or individual anecdotes. The Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula from 711 to 716 was a logical extension of the conquest of North Africa. Muslim settlement was widely dispersed throughout the peninsula with the exception of the northern mountains. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, therefore, was the only leader who could appeal across and above tribal loyalties to a wide cross-section of Arab society in Spain.
  • 11 - Spain: the northern kingdoms and the Basques, 711–910
    pp 272-289
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    Christian writers, such as the anonymous author of the so-called 'Prophetic Chronicle' of 883/4, could look forward to the expulsion of the Arabs from Spain, and a sense of both an ethnic and a religious-cultural divide between the inhabitants of the small northern kingdoms and the dominant elite in the south was marked in the writings of both sides. On the other hand, it is unwise to be too linear in the approach to the origins of the 'Reconquista', as tended to be the way with Spanish historiography in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Periods of peaceful co-existence or of limited and localised frontier disturbances were more frequent than ones of all-out military conflict between al-Andalus and the Christian kingdoms. As in the case of relations between the Arista dynasty in Pamplona and the Bānū Qasī, mutual interest could be a stronger bond than ideological divisions based on antagonistic creeds.
  • 12 - Lombard and Carolingian Italy
    pp 290-319
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    All over Lombard Italy, the dukes were the titular holders of local power, but their ties with the kings had different degrees of intensity and subordination. Only in northern Italy were the dukes really bound to the kingdom and the kings. After the conquests of Byzantine territory by King Rothari in the 640s, the Lombard kings for a long time limited their military activity to internal affairs and to occasional defence against invasions, by the Franks to the west and the Avars to the east. After the Frankish conquest, the Lombard kingdom survived as a distinct state, but at the price of losing its national foundation. Many aspects of the Carolingian government of Italy up to Lothar depended on the role the kingdom played within the empire. The political configuration of the kingdom of Italy took on a new character during the reign of Louis II. The aristocracy was prepared to grant prerogatives to the emperor than to the king.
  • 13 - Byzantine Italy, c. 680–c. 876
    pp 320-348
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    By the last quarter of the seventh century the Byzantine areas of Italy had experienced over a century of upheaval. By 680, however, the outlook appeared more hopeful. In that year, or shortly before, the empire had concluded a treaty with the Lombards which seems to have incorporated formal recognition of their kingdom. In the north Venetia and Istria retained their imperial allegiance, in the south Sicily and the duchies of Calabria, Otranto and Naples continued to come under the authority of the strategos of the Sicilian theme, and in central Italy the Exarchate, Pentapolis and duchies of Perugia and Rome were the subject of a tug of war between the Lombards, the papacy and entrenched local elites. The conquest of much of the Lombard territories in Apulia, Calabria and Lucania, including Bari and Taranto ushered in a new era of nearly two centuries of Byzantine domination in southern Italy.
  • 14 - Byzantium and the west, 700–900
    pp 349-380
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    Byzantium's interaction with the west appears chiefly political and cultural. In Byzantine eyes western Europeans' Christianity still created the basis for special relations with the empire. The upheavals of the seventh century had transformed Byzantium. Broader economic structures had once spanned the Mediterranean and fostered Byzantine commercial interaction with the west. Constantinople took the diplomatic initiative in order to defend its own vital interests on its western flanks, especially in Italy. Diplomatic interaction fostered cultural ramifications. The several dozen embassies which travelled between Constantinople and western courts constituted privileged intermediaries and much cultural exchange bears their stamp. Like political ones, cultural contacts between Byzantium and the west pivoted on Italy. Carolingian claim to have restored the Roman empire, despite brief periods of mutual acceptance, constituted a permanent challenge to all that was essential to the Byzantine identity. The stage was set for the co-operation and competition that would mark the future of Byzantium's interaction with the west.
  • 15 - Kingship and royal government
    pp 381-430
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    This chapter presents Henri Pirenne's view of the economic changes of the eighth and ninth centuries. There was, as Pirenne thought, a transformation in the representation and self-presentation of kingship. In the eighth century, the Frankish empire, under Carolingian leadership, expanded to absorb neighbouring peoples. In the ninth century, the rulers of east and west competed in sending missions to convert the Slavs in central Europe. Byzantium had become an alien power. Latin legal texts that preserved, in the west, not just the style but something of the substance of Roman government began to be reread and reused by royal counsellors, rekindling ideas of restoration and renewal. In 793 Charlemagne rewarded non-defectors after a serious rebellion by giving out 'gold and silver and precious cloths'. The symbolic representation of the present, and the construction of the past, were ways in which kings attempted to involve contemporaries in shaping the future: as such they were essential elements in royal government.
  • 16 - The aristocracy
    pp 431-450
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    This chapter presents the dynamics of the aristocracy, primarily in the Carolingian realms, by examining its relations with royal patrons and the workings of its family structures. The creation of the Carolingian empire offered opportunities to regional nobilities to act on a European stage. For this elite, local origins were less important as a form of identity than membership of a group that governed the empire, a truly imperial aristocracy, the Reichsaristokratie. Definitions of identity and status were made within families and could be fluid. This emerges clearly from Dhuoda's text in two ways. First, she herself draws a distinction between a broad and a narrow view of family when she commemorates eight dead members of her son William's kin whom she seems to regard as a genealogia, before going on to talk of other relatives who form a stirps. Second, she selects one of William's relatives as being his most important connection in the family: his paternal uncle Theodericus.
  • 17 - Social and military institutions
    pp 451-480
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    Military institutions are a vivid reflection of social order and social change, particularly in eighth and ninth centuries. Social history, more than any other branch of historiography, is compelled to adopt explicative theories which often remain hypothetical. With a knowledge of medieval social concepts, one can better understand the thought of the former times. Social order represented the theoretical and structural classification of medieval society, social life was rather determined by the various relations between people or classes, by natural or 'artificial' bonds between human beings and groups on an equal as well as on a hierarchical level. The family was the most natural and primary social institution at all levels of society. The household and manorial systems were more than mere social bonds in so far as they at the same time represented forms of community life within a certain social context: on the one hand the family, on the other the seigneurial familia.
  • 18 - Economic Organisation
    pp 481-509
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    A sensitivity to grain crises and the rapid and dynamic reactions may be responsible for the apparently somewhat chaotic and uneven growth. Such a characteristic of early medieval demographic evolution is probably partly responsible for the fact that these fluctuations cannot be determined or delimited chronologically. The prevalence of pigs in comparison to sheep and especially to cattle, on both desmesne land and farms held in tenure, points to mixed farming in which the stock economy was subordinate to an agricultural economy centred on grain production. From about the middle of the eighth century onwards, the structure and exploitation of land ownership in the Frankish empire between Loire and Rhine, between Rhine, Elbe and Alps, and in northern and central Italy underwent profound changes. As a result of the dominant role of manorial organisation in agrarian and industrial production, the exchange of goods and trade were also to a large extent dependent on the large estate and its production.
  • 19 - Rural society in Carolingian Europe
    pp 510-537
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    In the Carolingian period, from 750 or so onwards, people began, for the first time in European history, to see rural society more directly. This chapter provides an understanding of how rural social relationships actually worked in practice, on the ground. It talks about four areas as brief examples of the local societies, and discusses what their similarities and differences might tell us about the vast range of small-scale realities that made up Europe as a whole. The four are two small Catalan counties, Urgell and Pallars; the villages north of the Breton monastery of Redon; Dienheim in the middle Rhine, just upstream from Mainz; and Cologno Monzese, a settlement just east of Milan: from, respectively, a marginal frontier area, a more prosperous marchland, a core area for Frankish political power, and the urbanised heartland of the Lombard-Carolingian kingdom of Italy.
  • 20 - Money and coinage
    pp 538-560
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    Europe in the eighth and ninth centuries can be divided into two broad regions, the coin-producing areas in the west and south where coinage circulated in specie, being normally counted out in transactions, and the areas to the north and east with their bullion economies in which imported coinage and other forms of precious metal were used together by weight. The boundary between the two regions remained remarkably static between the eighth and eleventh centuries, although by the end of the twelfth century most of Europe had some form of regulated currency system. During the first two centuries following the collapse of the western empire, the currencies of the new barbarian kingdoms were based largely on locally produced gold coins. After the reconquest of the Danelaw in the middle of the tenth century, the new unified kingdom devised perhaps the most sophisticated fiscal currency system medieval Europe would see.
  • 21 - The papacy in the eighth and ninth centuries
    pp 561-586
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    This chapter provides the understanding of papal history in the areas of political symbolism and manifestations of public authority and sheds some light on the economic life of papal Rome. The assumption of territorial rule and the entry of the local Roman nobility into the clergy brought about an increase in the routine business and a refinement of the structures of the Roman church. The Roman church also exercised significant jurisdiction and influence in and around Rome in ways that were only marginally connected to the spiritual functions of the church. In the ninth century, the popes began to reassert themselves. Gregory IV, for example, explicitly quoted Gelasius in a letter dated 833 to some Frankish bishops. Gregory, on his arrival in Francia, claimed that he had come to restore the peace of the Christian world, while the bishops told him he had no business sitting in judgement upon the emperor.
  • 22 - The organisation, law and liturgy of the western church, 700–900
    pp 587-621
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    This chapter concentrates on the history of the western church in the eighth and ninth centuries, which have generally been recognised as pivotal in the development of ecclesiastical organisation, canon law and the liturgy. In the middle of the ninth century the Notitia Galliarum was used for polemical purposes by the compilers of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals to assert the primacy of one see over another, and more specifically, one metropolitan over another. The territorial structure of the churches in lands where Celtic Christians lived has always been an enigma in that Roman territorial structures had not existed in these areas. Visigothic Spain had an ecclesiastical organisation highly peculiar to that church. By the end of the ninth century liturgical rites in Western Europe, whether daily or occasional, were perhaps even more varied and rich than they had been at the beginning of the eighth century.
  • 23 - Carolingian monasticism: the power of prayer
    pp 622-653
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    This chapter talks about the impact of the powerful, kings and aristocrats, on the inner world of the cloister. Monastic life was lived in close contact with the world outside, and responded to its needs. This constant proximity necessitated a repeated redrawing of boundaries and renewal of distance, which is usually called 'monastic reform'. The tension between separation and integration is a recurrent theme in the writings of Carolingian monastic authors, precisely because their communities were so much at the centre of social and political life. The architectural solution to this problem was the claustrum, an inner enclosure within the monastery which should keep the outside at bay. The first section of the chapter deals with the demands of society on monks and nuns, and with the political function of monasteria. The second section treats the way in which these demands shaped the vita communis, the persisent ideal of a communal life within the cloister.

Page 1 of 2

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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T. Head (1990), Hagiography and the Cult of Saints: The Diocese of Orléans, 800–1200, Cambridge

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K. Levy (1987), ‘On the origin of neumes’, Early Music History 7

K. Levy (1990), ‘On Gregorian orality’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 43

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