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Lower office holders
Bernhard Zeller, Charles West, Francesca Tinti, Marco Stoffella, Nicolas Schroeder, Carine van Rhijn, Steffen Patzold, Thomas Kohl, Wendy Davies, and Miriam Czock

Local societies were not independent of their surroundings in most parts of western Europe in the early Middle Ages, perhaps with the exception of some very localised regions in northern Iberia. Most ‘small worlds’ belonged to regional or supra-regional networks and structures. Office holders and agents – ranging from mayors and priests to bishops, counts, viscounts and centenarii (hundredmen) – intervened in local affairs for landowners, kings and other lords they represented. Since kings, powerful lay aristocrats and religious institutions had large

in Neighbours and strangers
Tony Kushner

, murders, family jars, weddings, and banquets to esteemed fellow citizens, and a languid drooping interest in the rest of the spacious land. Was this inward-looking journalistic vision of the world not very provincial, asked Dewey, to which he responded, ‘No, not at all. Just local, just human, just at home, just where they live.’ 1 Dewey was convinced after the First World War and the growing movement in the United States for ‘Americanization’ that ‘We are discovering that the locality is the only universal. Even the suns and stars have their

in Anglo-Jewry since 1066
Paul Brand

began to develop and apply their own set of procedures and substantive rules, a ‘law and custom of England’, that were common to all the king’s free subjects and (for some purposes at least) all of the king’s subjects irrespective of their personal status: a development that marks England off from the other countries of Western Europe. Yet legal historians have also long known, in general terms at least, that the early common law courts were not invariably hostile to the continued application and enforcement of various forms of local custom that either supplemented or

in Law, laity and solidarities
Bernhard Zeller, Charles West, Francesca Tinti, Marco Stoffella, Nicolas Schroeder, Carine van Rhijn, Steffen Patzold, Thomas Kohl, Wendy Davies, and Miriam Czock

This chapter discusses the basic constituents of early medieval rural societies. It focuses on material dimensions, such as settlement, topography and access to resources, as well as on fundamental factors that define the position of individuals within local societies and groups, such as legal status and socio-economic stratification. The first section therefore draws on recent settlement archaeology to discuss the shape, size and internal organisation of rural settlements. The second section deals with the socio-economic and legal stratification of local

in Neighbours and strangers
Local societies in early medieval Europe

This is an exploration of social cohesion in rural settlements in western Europe in the period 700–1050 CE, and of the extent to which settlements, or districts, constituted units of social organisation. It focuses on the interactions, interconnections and networks of people who lived side by side – neighbours. Drawing evidence from most of the current western European countries, the book plots and interrogates the very different practices of this wide range of regions in a systematically comparative framework, offering a new approach to well-known problems of the early Middle Ages by bringing together expertise from different national traditions. It examines how people in the localities of the early medieval West worked together in pursuit of shared goals beyond the level of the household, and how (and whether) they formed their own groups through that collective action. It considers the variety of local responses to the supra-local agents of landlords and rulers and the impact, such as it was, of those agents on the small-scale residential group. It also assesses the impact on local societies of the values, instructions and demands of the wider literate world of Christianity, as delivered by local priests.

The Rotuli de Dominabus et Pueris et Puellis de XII Comitatibus of 1185
Susan M. Johns

royal inquests and the power of noblewomen 9 Royal inquests and the power of noblewomen: the Rotuli de Dominabus et Pueris et Puellis de XII Comitatibus of 1185 Introduction and historiography he Rotuli de Dominabus et Pueris et Puellis de XII Comitatibus of 1185 are a record of a royal inquiry into widows and wards who were in the king’s gift.1 It is an important insight into the position of noblewomen in the later twelfth century, and in particular the way that they were seen by local juries under the direction of the agents of central government – and the

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

about the validity of female witnesses. No such statements were required for male witnesses.45 Women were prominent as witnesses, and thus in the creation of social memory, in John of Ford’s Life of Wulfric of Haslebury, a parish priest turned anchorite in rural Somerset who died in 1154. These witnesses included women from the nobility, five local anchoresses and village women.46 The Life also depicts social interaction between the anchorite and women, as well as spiritual advice and relationships.47 The dispensation of spiritual advice could be achieved through

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

–1453: Essays in Honour of Pierre Chaplais (London and Ronceverte: Hambledon Press, 1989), p. 32. D. Crouch, ‘The local influence of the earls of Warwick, 1088–1242: a study in decline and resourcefulness’, Midland History, 21 (1996), 9–10. E. Searle, ‘Women and the legitimisation of succession at the Norman Conquest’, ANS, 3 (1981 for 1980), 159–70. R. C. DeAragon, ‘In pursuit of aristocratic women: a key to success in Norman England’, Albion, 14 (1982), 258–67; eadem, ‘Dowager countesses, 1069–1230’, ANS, 17 (1995 for 1994), 87–100; J. Gillingham, ‘Love, marriage and

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

, sometimes explanatory in the light of changes in vocabulary. Thus complexities within texts were subject to smoothing out in the light of local knowledge. The variety of documents that Hawise witnessed suggests that there may have been more to her participation as a witness than a legalistic device predicated on her potential claims to land. For example, she was sole witness to a charter in favour of Queen Eleanor which gave her the ivory dice that Elias the clerk owed. Such a small gift speaks of personal relationships rather than Hawise as threat to the integrity of the

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

tradition recorded at the local shire court, after the death of Gerard de Camville in 1215 Nichola left the castle and went to meet John with its keys in her hand to argue that she was too old to defend it. John replied to his ‘beloved Nichola’ that she should keep the castle until he ordered otherwise.65 The Histoire de la Guillame le Maréchal, written about 1226, shows that Nichola’s defence of Lincoln facilitated the penetration of Lincoln by Peter des Roches bishop of Winchester before the final battle which ended the siege. He entered the castle by a secret entrance

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm