Neighbours, visitors and strangers
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There is no evidence that the residential group was the only group to which local people belonged. The locality, understood as a zone of the order of 10 km diameter, with a multiplicity of settlements, was a meaningful unit of operation, although the scale of association in northern Iberia appears to have been wider. Some members of some settlements engaged in collective agricultural practices, and some households joined together to take legal action, but there is no reason to suppose that all members of any one settlement regularly did so. There is little awareness of belonging to a group, although the integration of immigrants and the exclusion of individuals are well evidenced. There cannot have been a shared view of social cohesion in every settlement or every locality. The same Christian message was heard by every flock, meaning that the sphere of responsibility of the local priest defined a community of a kind, although some people clearly stole from their neighbours, as others fought or assaulted or raped them. The number of officers within range, and the frequency of their visits, must have made a difference to the lives of peasant farmers: so, life in a farming settlement in northern Iberia must have been free from the micro-management of those in the Carolingian Empire.

Neighbours and strangers

Local societies in early medieval Europe


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