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Pauline Stafford

The task in writing about Charles Martel is to set the record straight. It is thus necessary to unpick both sides of his reputation and to confront the massive implications of the Heinrich Brunner thesis, which means examining very carefully the grounds on which this period is seen as a watershed. On all three counts, the work of Susan Reynolds can never be far from mind. Where Charles Martel is concerned, her work is the spur to revisit even the most familiar sources to check the terminology of landholding, lordship and clientage to see whether early medieval authors used the words and terms associated with 'feudalism', which modern historians read into them. This chapter aims to point to areas in which our understanding of the career of Charles Martel has changed significantly, that is, to draw attention to the recent refutation of old views and misunderstandings.

in Law, laity and solidarities
Charters as evidence
Pauline Stafford

The charters of the 990s not only give readers a rare insight into the terms of early medieval English political debate, and into the tensions and contradictions within and between them, but also into their successful deployment within a specific historical context. This chapter begins with the 'youthful ignorance' charters. Returning to them now suggests how far the ideals of the 990s, albeit recorded in clerically drafted documents, should be seen as shared values, or ones which at least had strong resonance for the laity. In the context of debates which utilised the values of kinship and family, and in which the king was made to place himself and his actions within a dynastic past, a metaphor of the king's reign drawn from his human life-cycle was a very apposite way of presenting what was claimed as a shift in direction and a king's change of mind.

in Law, laity and solidarities
Essays in honour of Susan Reynolds

This book is dedicated to Susan Reynolds and celebrates the work of a scholar whose views have been central to reappraisals of the position of the laity in the Middle Ages. The themes and concerns include 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. Reynolds has written her own Middle Ages, especially in her innovative book Kingdoms and Communities whose influence can be seen in so many of the essays. Collectivities, solidarities and collective action are everywhere in these essays, as Reynolds has shown us to expect them to be. Collective action was carried out often in pursuit of social peace, but it existed precisely because there was discord. Of the narratives and interpretative frameworks with which Reynolds's work has been concerned, the book has least to say directly on the debate over feudalism. The book engages many of the themes of Reynolds's work and pursues some of the issues which are prominent in re-examinations of the medieval world and in studies of the medieval laity. It discusses secular aristocratic attitudes towards judicial combat within the broader setting of fictional 'treason trials' of the later twelfth century. Although kinship did not start out as an explicit and overt theme of the book, it emerges as a leitmotiv, perhaps in part because when feudalism is removed, kinship is thrown into sharper relief.

Abstract only
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 Law, laity and solidarities