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Interventions in local societies
Lower office holders
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Local societies were also influenced by other kinds of landowner, who may have been absentees or have had a wide spread of interests beyond that of a single local group. This chapter treats the ways in which outside authorities, office holders and aristocrats intervened in local society. On the one hand, members of these elites were themselves part of local societies; on the other, office holders acted as mediators linking local societies to higher levels such as the kingdom, the county or distant landowners. They therefore occupied a double position: they were themselves members of a local society and at the same time they were legitimised and commissioned by outside authorities. Numerous different types of secular office holder, from both the public and the private sphere, are referenced. However, the frequency of their appearance varies: lower-level office holders are extremely well documented in some parts of northern Italy, are less common in the Frankish and Anglo-Saxon world, and are rare in the Iberian peninsula.

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Neighbours and strangers

Local societies in early medieval Europe

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