Georges Duby argued that at the heart of changes in marriage, from the looser arrangements of the earlier middle ages to the monogamous tradition increasingly supervised by the Church, there was an important new emphasis on hierarchy. Throughout the earlier middle ages and well into the eleventh century, marriage was not considered to be a sacrament, and in fact was something over which the Church had little if any control. Multiple marriages and widespread concubinage, however much the Church might protest, were essential requirements that established and maintained social order. The reformers' rhetoric was accompanied by increasing accusations of sexual misconduct, more frequent allegations of both spiritual and genealogical incest, and at the same time an increasing exaltation of chastity, continence, asceticism and even spiritual marriage.
The French historian Jacques Le Gof saw in the description of a ritual that is frequently found in peacemaking between rulers three distinct elements; homage, oath of fealty (faith) and investiture. Just as in the case of the king of Scots's homage to John of Salisbury in 1200, the oath of fealty stood at the heart of the ceremony in 1169, but the actual gestures were those of a suppliant. It is possible that the gestures described by John of Salisbury should be labelled as gestures for returning to homage and so should be separated from the more traditional act of homage. There are some examples of the varying interpretations of the use of homage in negotiations for peace, and some of these initially correspond more closely to the model of commendation proposed by Le Gof and others.
Often the issue of hostages has been used by contemporary commentators and modern historians alike as a yardstick by which to measure the success or failure of individual kings. A number of historians have highlighted the important socio-cultural, symbolic and political uses of hostages in the early medieval period, but few historians have to date devoted more than a passing reference to the role of hostages in the period after 1100. In the post-1100 period, the most common use of hostages in negotiations was those given to secure the release of adversaries captured in war. Unlike a hostage, those acting as sureties were deprived of their liberty only if there was a breach of the agreement. A good example of the use of real sureties in peacemaking can be found in the Treaty of Messina concluded between Richard I of England and Philip Augustus of France in 1191.
Defining the boundaries of Carolingian Christianity
In 763-4, a renewed version of the oldest Frankish law-code, Lex Salica, was issued in the name of the first Carolingian king, Pippin. Claims about Frankish 'invincibility' like those voiced in 763-4 articulated the forging of new aristocratic coalitions around the new ruler: this much is well known. But what of the identification of Frankish rule with Christian orthodoxy, and the denigration and denial of the Christian credentials of the Franks' opponents, claims which constitute a secondary but all too easily overlooked theme of the royal ideology of the Lex Salica revision? This chapter argues that such claims were rooted in the debates staged at the Church councils of the 740s, and the development of a programme of religious 'correction'. Looking at the uses of the rhetoric of heresy in Pippin's reign inevitably involves focusing on the career of Boniface.
Medieval Jewish society saw itself as being under siege in a struggle for survival within a Christian population that abounded with threats and temptations, both economic and intellectual. In sources written by the Jews in the first generation following the attack on the Jewish communities in the year 1096, emphasis was laid on the Jewish woman's readiness to lead religious resistance to the death, together with her unswerving devotion to Jewish values. The change in the status of the woman manifested itself in at least three significant ways; in her economic-legal status, in her status within the family and in her social standing. Starting in the twelfth century, a woman stepping down from her bridal canopy was a woman of a new and different status. The women also succeeded in bypassing an almost impossible obstacle in regard to study and education.
The close parallels between Janet Nelson's biography of Charles the Bald and Richard Abels' biography of Alfred the Great are clear. Both books raise issues as to the extent to which early medieval biography is possible. Yet one noteworthy distinction between the books centres on their treatment of lordship. This chapter makes some comparisons between lordship in Francia and England, focusing less on the institution itself than on contemporary depictions of the relationship, in particular in literary sources, and the moral norms associated with it. Although there have been many discussions of the practice of 'Herrschaft' in the Carolingian world, especially in regional studies, analysis of the ethos of the lord-man relationship has largely relied on 'Germanic' texts. Lordship in Anglo-Saxon England has attracted far more scholarly attention, with the 'dear lord' widely seen as a key theme in Old English literature.
The first years of life were arguably the most dramatic of the medieval life cycle. Infancy, the first stage, was said to last until two or four, but most commonly seven; it was followed by a later stage of childhood lasting until the early teens. Qualities said to distinguish childhood, and more specifically infancy, from other age groups are a contradictory mix of incapacity, evil, naivety, innocence and hope. A wide range of literary and visual sources supported the view of the hapless infant. Among the noble and gentry families of Europe it was common for the infant to be given to a nurse in the same way as all the routine tasks of the household were performed by hired servants. The practice of wet-nursing has received a fair amount of modern criticism for militating against close child-parent relations.
The Jewish community was fundamentally a male society, patriarchal in nature, where every facet of life manifested male superiority and control. Nevertheless, the women of this community played an important and often central role in every group and social system. The change in the status of women may be viewed as the result of an overall social change in a Jewish society that was struggling for survival. From the tenth century and until their expulsion towards the end of the medieval period, the Jews of Europe lived mainly in communal settings in Christian towns. Throughout the eleventh century, the Jews were the only people living in northern Europe who did not accept Christianity. Christianity could not remain indifferent to Judaism and the Christians could not ignore the Jews dwelling in their midst. Both groups competed for the title of 'heir to the true religion'.
Pauline Stafford, Janet L. Nelson and Jane Martindale
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts covered in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book is dedicated to Susan Reynolds and celebrates the work of a scholar whose views have been central to recent reappraisals of the position of the laity in the Middle Ages. It is arranged chronologically but is bound together by a series of themes and concerns. Those themes and concerns are hers: a medieval world in which the activity and attitudes of the laity are not obscured by ideas expressed more systematically in theoretical treatises by ecclesiastics; a world in which lay collective action and thought take centre stage. Susan Reynolds has written her own Middle Ages, especially in her innovative book Kingdoms and Communities. It is a world of overlapping communities or, as she would prefer it of 'collectivities' and 'solidarities'.
In the medieval period peace was intrinsically linked to Christianity. St Augustine was the central authority on ideas of peace as expressed through his Civitas Dei, and his notion of peace strongly influenced medieval political thought and the image of the peacemaking king. The major challenge that both the Danish and English kings faced at the outset of the period was the restoration and reformation of royal authority. Diplomacy and negotiations for peace in this period frequently involved reconciliations following rebellion. Peacemaking at the highest, international, level has much in common with more localised dispute settlement. In contrast to the documentary records of dispute settlement, the historian of peacemaking has to rely heavily upon the evidence of narrative sources. The available evidence for dispute settlement as opposed to that for international diplomacy shows that disputes were most commonly over property.