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.

Susan Reynolds

The procedure that the British call compulsory purchase, though it is really compulsory sale, and that Americans call 'eminent domain', also a slightly misleading name, is in the civil-law tradition simply 'expropriation', or an equivalent word (espropriazione, Enteignung, etc.). This chapter argues that an immanent sense of the common good may have allowed both rulers and local communities to take land from individuals for the sake of that common good even before the Carolingians and outside the kingdoms of the Franks and Anglo-Saxons. The most striking example in the early Middle Ages of what looks like a modified form of expropriation is what has traditionally been seen as the plundering, spoliation or secularization of Church land by Charles Martel and his descendants, the Carolingian kings and emperors.

in Frankland
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Pauline Stafford, Janet L. Nelson and Jane Martindale

This collection of essays 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. For her

in Law, laity and solidarities
Elizabeth A. R. Brown

This volume’s title, Law, Laity and Solidarities in Medieval Europe, reflects three of Susan Reynolds’s chief interests, which she has treated singly and commingled. 1 Here, in homage to a valued friend and intellectual companion, I shall approach the topics from a somewhat different perspective from hers, a perspective that is inspired by her methodological admonitions and that I hope complements her broad vision of medieval society. The chief purpose of this essay is to question the appropriateness of distinguishing sharply between lay (or secular and

in Law, laity and solidarities
Rees Davies

Susan Reynolds’s Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe 900–1300 (1984; second edition 1997) is a book with a mission, eloquently and zealously delivered. It set out to demonstrate the centrality of collective, community action at all sorts of levels and in a whole host of forms in the life of medieval Western European societies. As such, part of its target was the overemphasis in much of our historiography on what may be characterised as vertical authority, an overemphasis largely dictated by a too ready surrender to the assumptions and agenda of

in Law, laity and solidarities
Pauline Stafford

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. Susan Reynolds demands that we take misconceptions seriously for the damage they can do. Her most recent thinking comprehends the horrific consequences of letting myths about nation and race go unchallenged. 6 The murderous activities of the ‘groupe Charles Martel’ are a chilling reminder of those consequences. Susan Reynolds has, of course, much to say about ‘feudalism’. Where Charles Martel is concerned, her work is the spur to revisit even

in Law, laity and solidarities
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The wards of medieval London
Caroline M. Barron

With characteristic honesty and intellectual rigour, Susan Reynolds has challenged the historians of English medieval towns to move on from the accumulation of evidence and ‘to think more about their reasoning, their assumptions, and the concepts that lie behind the words they use . . . . 1 She has not, herself, written directly about wards, whether in London or elsewhere, nor, for that matter, has anyone else except the indefatigable Webb partnership more than a hundred years ago. 2 Susan Reynolds’s own interests have moved away from English urban history

in Law, laity and solidarities
M. T. Clanchy

We cannot make sense of the transformation of lay society and government in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries if we start from the belief that people then inherited a purely – or even largely – formalistic, rigid, and magical idea of law from their predecessors. 1 This argument from Kingdoms and Communities explains much of Susan Reynolds’s approach to medieval history, both in that book and in Fiefs and Vassals. We need to start from beliefs, as we have little certain knowledge about law in early societies which lack documents. But what should

in Law, laity and solidarities
Janet L. Nelson

-century discovery (or possibly rediscovery), shows that in earlier medieval thinking, specialisation of function was bound up with distinction of rank. 7 Though subtler gradations of wealth and status nuanced the stark polarity between powerful and powerless, potens and pauper , early medieval man, like Indian man, was homo hierarchicus. 8 There is some truth in all the above. But in this essay for Susan Reynolds, who insisted we view kingdoms and communities within one medieval frame, I intend to qualify that verticality: or rather, to set alongside it, and initially to

in Law, laity and solidarities
Jenny Benham

notion more recently echoed by Susan Reynolds. 7 Le Goff noted that, in Galbert of Bruges’s account of the homage to William Clito, the count’s gesture of clasping and enclosing the subjects’ hands included a promise of aid and protection, a promise that by its nature implied ‘an ostentatious display of a superior . . . power’. 8 Quite simply, to

in Peacemaking in the Middle Ages