Pursuing enemies to death in France between the ninth and the eleventh centuries
This chapter considers the moral choices made by men at war when they decided either to kill their enemies or to spare them. It deals only with the battles of the Carolingian civil wars and of subsequent struggles between Frankish/French princes - that is, between enemies who unquestionably shared a common culture. The battle of Fontenoy, about which Janet Nelson has written often and always illuminatingly, is by far the most famous of these battles, and by far the best recorded. Two of the combatants, Nithard and Angelbert, fighting on opposing sides, wrote about it, one in a remarkable prose history, the other in a remarkable poem. It figures not only in contemporary and near-contemporary accounts by the annalists of St Bertin, Fulda and Xanten, but also in two histories composed south of the Alps by Andreas of Bergamo and Agnellus of Ravenna.
Dagobert II was a Merovingian king who ruled for about four years in Austrasia, the Frankish kingdom which included northeastern France, Belgium and the Rhineland. His reign probably began in late 675 or early 676. This chapter first reviews what we know of Dagobert and next examines the Vita Dagoberti. It then looks at how Dagobert II was rediscovered via the Life of Wilfrid in the seventeenth century, and was subsequently re-inscribed in the history of the period. This leads readers to an evaluation of the Life of Wilfred as a source, reflections on the significance of Wilfrid himself, and further thoughts on the relationship between memory and tradition. The Life of Wilfrid is therefore a text that is to readers vital for historical research, but not one of which more than a handful of early medieval people were aware.
This chapter examines the different approaches to femininity displayed by the men. It presents four paradigms that are the outcome of research blending questions raised within the spheres of gender research and feminist theory with the research methodology of social history. They are the family paradigm, negative male paradigm, Hasidic paradigm, and community paradigm. Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac's entire oeuvre points to the central role of the family and particularly the key position and importance of the woman as the pillar of the Jewish family. In the sections of Sefer Hasidim that describe how a man progresses along the Hasidic path, coping with the female presence, and the constant danger on account of the strong sexual desire is always aroused. In many of the sources the attitude towards women stems from the male sages' conviction that the interests of the community must be given the highest priority.
This volume of essays in honour of Dame Jinty Nelson celebrates the way in which Jinty has used her profound understanding of Frankish history as a frame for reflecting upon the nature of early medieval culture and society in general. It includes a tabula gratulatoria of those very many others who wish to express their appreciation of Jinty's work and their warm personal gratitude to her. She has remained at King's throughout her entire career. Her early career was combined with young motherhood, a tough experience that has made her strongly supportive of colleagues trying to balance work and family. Although she continued to write about early medieval inauguration rituals, a new departure came with the 1977 paper 'On the limits of the Carolingian Renaissance'. The book discusses what factors determined and informed their particular take on the Frankish world, and how this compares to law-codes and charters. It considers the possibility that land was sometimes taken in early medieval Europe, whether by kings or local lords, for what they claimed was the common good. Whenever only meagre information was available, it was impossible to make sense of the past, that is, to take a prosaic approach to a sense of oblivion. The book explores both the roots of the historical interpretation and the stimuli for change, by considering the long historiographical tradition, attitudes to textual sources, and the changing political environment. The subjects of queens and queenship have figured prominently among Nelson's publications.
The impact of political climate and historiographical tradition on writing their ninth-century history
This chapter explores both the roots of the historical interpretation and the stimuli for change by considering the long historiographical tradition, attitudes to textual sources, and the changing political environment on ninth-century history-writing of Franks and Bretons. Ninth-century Breton texts talk of French occupation and Breton resistance; the language of 'oppression' by the French, the 'yoke' they imposed, and the 'servitude' and 'liberty' of the Bretons belongs with later medieval and modern representations - a comment in itself, of course, on changing attitudes to personal status, as it is also an obvious comment on the changing administration of the French state. But, just as Carolingian conquest is undeniable, so is the fact that that conquest provoked the emergence of the Breton polity and the establishment of its historic frontiers - a state with real political significance in the later medieval and early modern periods.
This chapter argues that in the course of the seventh century, because of its special status as a missionary Church, England developed forms of higher episcopacy unique in the Latin West. To be fully understood, these arrangements must be placed in a much wider context, ranging from Gaul at one extreme to the Greek East at the other. Janet Nelson, who has written so tellingly about the Franks and their neighbours, has encouraged readers to adopt a comparative approach when thinking about early medieval Europe, and the chapter is offered in gratitude for her teaching and example. The chapter starts with Pope Gregory the Great's celebrated plan for the English episcopate. Where Gregory the Great had his way, authority was mediated through a papal agent, whose position was personal and derived primarily from the pallium, a relic-vestment imbued with Petrine power, rather than from occupation of a specific see.
Sir Edward Hastings expected immediate understanding of the term 'gentilman', and sympathy for his claim that gentle status and imprisonment were radically incompatible. In Latin, 'generositas' seems to have signified nobility by birth in the early thirteenth century, but by 1295 it also signified gentility bestowed by royal title. The breadth of meanings that came to be associated with gentility may itself have encouraged extended usage of the terms, making them peculiarly applicable to women as well as men. Dress and material circumstances were certainly two common makers of reputation and markers of gentility. Virtues such as truthfulness, courage and courtesy were also taken to be concomitants of gentility. Claimants to gentility were involved in a world of fluid social meanings, where their social status was continually being tested and negotiated by peers and neighbours in their community of honour.
After many years at the margins of historical investigation, the late medieval English gentry are widely regarded as an important and worthy subject for academic research. This book aims to explore the culture of the wide range of people whom we might include within the late medieval gentry, taking in all of landed society below the peerage, from knights down to gentlemen, and including those aspirants to gentility who might under traditional socio-economic terms be excluded from the group. It begins by exploring the origins of, and influences on, the culture of the late medieval gentry, thus contributing to the ongoing debate on defining the membership of this group. The book considers the gentry's emergence as a group distinct from the nobility, and looks at the various available routes to gentility. Through surveys of the gentry's military background, administrative and political roles, social behaviour, and education, it seeks to provide an overview of how the group's culture evolved, and how it was disseminated. The book offers a broad view of late medieval gentry culture, which explores, reassesses and indeed sometimes even challenges the idea that members of the gentry cultivated their own distinctive cultural identity. The evolution of the gentleman as a peer-assessed phenomenon, gentlemanly behaviour within the chivalric tradition, the education received by gentle children, and the surviving gentry correspondence are also discussed. Although the Church had an ambivalent attitude toward artistic expression, much of the gentry's involvement with the visual arts was religious in focus.
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.
From the beginning of the twelfth century, Jewish society was threatened by the Christians. The Jews felt that there could be a recurrence of attacks by Christians as well as attempts to force them to convert to Christianity. Despite its popularity, the Midrash had less impact on the Jews of the Middle Ages than the story of 'the mother and her sons', a well known example of Jewish martyrdom. While the attitude towards the anusot is not positive, Rabbenu Asher ben Yechiel does give them the chance to come back into the fold of Judaism without calling attention to their non-fulfilment of the obligation to kill themselves al kiddush haShem or making this an obstacle to their return. All the genres of Jewish writing in the Middle Ages retain the central role of women in the acts of mavet al kiddush haShem, even though they were all written by men.