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.
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.
This collection of essays is dedicated to SusanReynolds 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
This volume’s title, Law, Laity and Solidarities in Medieval Europe, reflects three of SusanReynolds’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
SusanReynolds’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
grounds on which this period is seen as a watershed. On all three counts, the work of SusanReynolds can never be far from mind. SusanReynolds 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. SusanReynolds has, of course, much to say about ‘feudalism’. Where Charles Martel is concerned, her work is the spur to revisit even
With characteristic honesty and intellectual rigour, SusanReynolds 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 SusanReynolds’s own interests have moved away from English urban history
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 SusanReynolds’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
Anthropology after Gluckman places the intimate circle around Max Gluckman, his Manchester School, in the vanguard of modern social anthropology. The book discloses the School’s intense, argument-rich collaborations, developing beyond an original focus in south and central Africa. Where outsiders have seen dominating leadership by Gluckman, a common stock of problems, and much about conflict, Richard Werbner highlights how insiders were drawn to explore many new frontiers in fieldwork and in-depth, reflexive ethnography, because they themselves, in class and gender, ethnicity and national origins, were remarkably inclusive. Characteristically different anthropologists, their careers met the challenges of being a public intellectual, an international celebrity, an institutional good citizen, a social and political activist, an advocate of legal justice. Their living legacies are shown, for the first time, through interlinked social biography and intellectual history to reach broadly across politics, law, ritual, semiotics, development studies, comparative urbanism, social network analysis and mathematical sociology. Innovation – in research methods and techniques, in documenting people’s changing praxis and social relations, in comparative analysis and a destabilizing strategy of re-analysis within ethnography – became the School’s hallmark. Much of this exploration confronted troubling times in Africa, colonial and postcolonial, which put the anthropologists and their anthropological knowledge at risk. The resurgence of debate about decolonization makes the accounts of fierce, End of Empire argument and recent postcolonial anthropology all the more topical. The lessons, even in activism, for social scientists, teachers as well as graduate and undergraduate students are compelling for our own troubled times.
notion more recently echoed by SusanReynolds. 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