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The period cannot therefore be seen either as some sort of medieval anarchy of the sort some scholars think they find in the later centuries, nor as characterised by a completely effective, centralised administration. Rather, it was a bit of both. This mixed characterisation is brought out more fully by West.

Medieval England

More explicitly than Eldevik, he shows that both perspectives on the Carolingian period are well-supported by the documentation from his region. Moving beyond the capitulary evidence, he argues that, for example, counts did actually hold public meetings to issue judgements as acts of public, royal justice; and royal authority was not just theoretical, but actually exercised through the control of the fisc and of royal monasteries, through the itineracy of the kings whose presence functioned as an effective reminder of power, and by means of the missi , who travelled widely to enforce royal writ.

Like Eldevik, West stresses the importance of Carolingian bishops within the kingdom, for which reason their appointments were largely matters settled by the royal court; but apart from providing financial resources, military support and administrative advice to the court, bishops also effectively administered their dioceses, examining and appointing parish priests, visiting parishes and ensuring that priests attained the level of Latinity and moral and intellectual probity that was decreed necessary.

Despite all this, central power had limits. As Eldevik also shows with regard to bishops, appointments to office took place through a system of patronage and many offices were passed on within networks of kin. Furthermore, counts and missi were not solely royal agents, but also had local interests that they pursued for the private profit of themselves and their families.

West rightly argues that royal initiative and local power were not opposing forces: wherever the Carolingian institutions had any effect, it was as a result of a compromise with local interests. But that people were dominated does not necessarily tell us very much about the conception of property attached to the land on which these people worked and lived. Owning land and dominating people who work the land need not be seen as analogous, and the fact that the latter is a dominant social relation seems to me no reason to call into question the reality of the former.

Moreover, to call enforced labour services a form of tribute, while perhaps following the rhetoric of the sources, might go a bit too far: there is a huge difference between a tribute received by an armed person from another armed person with the ability to resist, and from an unarmed person without such an ability.


It is also not clear how changes in the manner of domination relate to economic change: whatever happened in the tenth and 11th century in the former sphere, I think there is little disputing that these centuries were a time of growing economic complexity and arguably production as well. Relative levels of domination of the peasantry say little about the effectiveness of government because no medieval government was much concerned with restraining such domination, as long as that domination did not come into competition with others of the dominating class.

I am a little sceptical of the argument that peasant renders were really thought of by whom? It seems to me that sometimes in the language of communication and gift the central fact of the economy of this period and indeed later ones as well — that it functioned by means of at least the threat, and often the reality, of actual physical violence — gets blurred. He makes the further important point that — contrary to a good deal of the scholarship on this period — there is no necessary dichotomy between symbolic communication and the written word: bureaucracy and ritual were two sides of the same coin.

Government, property, written and symbolic communication, aristocratic domination and institutions, were all categories that were related to each other.

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Both written and gestural or symbolic forms of communcation were means of greater control, methods by which, without the apparatus of the Roman state system and its tax apparatus, an empire could nevertheless be managed. The state and lordship were both means of managing resources through the exercise of power, and there was no necessary opposition between public and private power — indeed, central public power depended on the resources of the localities, necessarily at least partly private, and we know that many public officials were equally engaged in estate management at the local level.

These arguments raise some interesting questions: why did all this happen now? Or was there more competition for control, making it necessary to have more symbolic expressions of control as one means of trying to work through that competition before a resort to outright violence?

The Islamic world in the Middle Ages - Revision 1 - KS3 History - BBC Bitesize

Ultimately, power was based on the control of resources: on production. Why did it seem necessary at this point to control resources more closely — was it because there was a growing non-producing class requiring more production to enable its social reproduction; or increasing competition among that class; or both?

How do the developments of the ninth century relate to what happened in the tenth, and especially the 11th century and beyond: demographic expansion, greater monetisation, urbanisation, and probably growth in production as well? These later developments suggest that regardless of how we assess the ways in which lordship, the state, and the nature of symbolic communication might have changed, resource extraction did not diminish; so, given that other methods of extracting resources that enabled growth could be found later, why were the methods West finds in the Carolingian period necessary at that time?

Getting dressed in the 14th century

It also seems to be the case that local families became more local: while earlier they had had power bases elsewhere in the Carolingian empire as well, now they were more firmly rooted within their individual regions, and shored up their power through the building of castles and the consolidation of holdings within the locality. West is aware of the problem of using the developments in his region to characterise the period more generally: the kings both in the east and the west were no longer based in Lotharingia, so it is hardly surprising that their interest in maintaining a presence here receded as well.

One way in which local elites managed to become more entrenched in their local power base is revealed by the evidence regarding the slow building up of territorial lordships in the form of genuine counties.

Related terms

It is less clear how the growth of territorial lordship related to changes in the conception and practice of landlordship. But the earlier polyptychs had also recorded dues owed by those working the land, and I do not see how these earlier sources are evidence only of estate management, whereas the later sources betray a greater interest in landownership: the estates recorded in the polyptychs were thought of as belonging to the monasteries that produced those documents, and the management of those estates was predicated on a belief that they belonged to the monasteries that managed them.

The distinction between domination of people and the ownership of property is not, to my mind, really convincing in showing that the property was in fact not owned; the fact that the social relations that determined how production took place are relations of coercive domination of people does not mean that the land on which that production takes place is not thought of as property. I am not sure, moreover, that he can prove there was a greater level of fascination with ritual and ceremony in this period than in the preceding century.

Under the Ottonians, there was less of such competition perhaps simply because there were fewer legitimate rivals; perhaps meaning appears more stable because we have only one point of view in that textual production is more hegemonic — a hardly surprising effect of the stability of the Ottonians when viewed against the dispute-ridden succession issues of the multifarious Carolingians after Louis the Pious.

The tenth and early 11th centuries might present ambiguous evidence regarding the nature of lordship and communication, but they clearly were a time when relations of power were changing and becoming more formalised at more local levels; both the books under review agree on this point. This is evident from all three examples Eldevik examines, though Lucca, Salzburg, and Mainz belong to quite different social and political contexts. In Lucca, landownership in the ninth century was far more fragmented than in the other two dioceses, leading to more diffuse structures of power; there was not very much in terms of a royal or fiscal presence here with regard to landownership, though the kings did, throughout this period, have an interest in local politics and patronage.

In the ninth century, donations made by landowners to the diocese dried up, but leases of parishes — pievi — including their tithes by the bishop quickened, and pievi continued to be leased out through the tenth and into the early 11th century, by which point bishops were leasing out whole pievi to individual aristocrats instead of just fragments, as they had done earlier. However, Eldevik argues convincingly that the later rhetoric should not be accepted at face value.

John Nightingale presented a similar argument with regard to Lotharingia. Although the shift in perception of the later writers is certainly in itself important, we need to judge the practices of the ninth and tenth centuries on their own terms. The regional aristocracy dominated the Lucchese episcopacy, and from the late ninth century, the royal presence was increasingly distant. It is perhaps also not a coincidence that in many cases beneficiaries were related to the bishop. However, during the course of the 11th century, the Lucchese bishops became increasingly disconnected from the local aristocracy, and more closely tied to the Canossan and thus pro-reform party; thus their growing disinclination to lease church property should be seen not simply as a matter of religious ethics, but also as a political move.

Furthermore, it needs to be understood in the context of developments similar to what West finds in his regions: the increasingly localised control of land by local lords by means of fortifying settlements and building up more dependent military retinues. As lay landowners became more independent, their claims to their leases also made the latter seem more like their own property; it is also in part a reaction to this that bishops became more reluctant to lease pievi and tithes, and eventually began to build their own castles and retinues of milites.

It is arguably also at least in part because of the growing loss of control over tithe rights resulting from their being perceived as hereditary that later ecclesiastical writers took such a dim view of earlier practices.

The changes in practices of tithe control in Lucca can therefore usefully be understood in the context of the sort of increasing formalisation of regional power that both these books suggest was common in many regions of post-Carolingian Europe. Similar developments are found in Salzburg, since here as well descendants of lessees of ecclesiastical properties in the ninth century began later to view their leases as heritable property, thus by the 11th and 12th century depriving the Church of lands and income.

Knights were presented as pious, generous and merciful. Instead, the holy knights ended up sacking the great Christian city of Constantinople. The capture of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. On the flip side, Wollock says, chivalric culture encouraged knights to develop their own sense of morality rather than simply relying on church authorities.

That led some of them to question the slaughter of Muslims during the crusades. Yet even when knights did follow a code of chivalry as they understood it, these ideas about honor and good behavior focused mostly on concern for the noble class that knights were part of, often at the expense of the poor.

Chivalry Was Established to Keep Thuggish, Medieval Knights in Check

Kaeuper says few medieval texts describing chivalry warned against burning or looting towns or raping common women. Kaeuper argues that our current understanding of chivalry as a code of proper masculine behavior, particularly in relation to women, has little to do with real knights in the Middle Ages. Rather, he argues, European neo-romantics in the late 19th century adapted the word to define ideal male behavior. Religion and government were much more closely connected in the Muslim states than in feudal Europe.

The ulama, the experts in Sharia law , were important religious scholars who advised the caliph , the leader of the umma. Until the 9th century the caliph was the religious and political leader of all Muslims. Later on, military leaders, known as amirs or sultans, dominated the caliphs, but the caliphs kept their spiritual role. The Islamic world - a larger and more advanced civilisation It was created by the Arab conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries.