Gift exchanges and banquets
The symbolism of largesse
in Peacemaking in the Middle Ages
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This chapter examines what medieval rulers actually did at meetings, taking into account the role of ritual. In the medieval period, the public qualities of rituals were essential 'because spectators assumed the role of witnesses and thereby made the action legally binding'. It is evident from the events of 1158 and 1201 that gifts and giving in Anglo-French diplomacy should be viewed in the wider context of largesse, rather than as specific ritual acts. If gift exchanges at meetings were seemingly rarely recorded by contemporaries, one similar ceremony does make frequent appearances on the pages of late twelfth-century chronicles, namely feasting. If it is evident that feasting commonly followed peacemaking and diplomacy, it is equally clear that banquets carried with them a number of different ceremonies and gestures.

Peacemaking in the Middle Ages

Principles and practice




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