The Carolingian moment
in Debating medieval Europe
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This chapter deals with the Carolingian Empire as a relatively short-lived but highly significant and influential ‘moment’ in western European history. It considers first the nature of Carolingian governmentality as an exercise in Foucauldian bio-power, as something that one might describe as a ‘family-state’. It asks whence the Carolingian Empire derived its income (taxation or tribute?) and how its public state structures operated. The chapter turns next to identity, and how a Frankish identity was constructed and maintained, operating alongside and sometimes against other, more particular ethnic identities. Finally, it examines the religious component to the Carolingian Empire: the cultivation of a form of theocratic religiosity that demanded a great deal of its rulers and of its ruled in terms of the expectations of their faith and their religious practice.

Debating medieval Europe

The early Middle Ages, c. 450 –c. 1050

Editor: Stephen Mossman

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