Archives de catégorie : Normes et sociétés / Norms and societies

Crosby Everett U., The king’s bishops: the politics of patronage in England and Normandy, 1066-1216

Crosby Everett U., The king’s bishops: the politics of patronage in England and Normandy, 1066-1216, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, XVIII-519 p. ISBN: 9781137307767

Compte rendu par/Review by : Hugh M. Thomas

The Medieval Review

Date : 10 May 2014

In his lengthy exploration of patronage and bishops in England and Normandy between the Norman Conquest and the death of King John, Everett U. Crosby has two main concerns, royal control of episcopal appointments and nepotism. His first chapter sets the stage by discussing medieval and modern views of bishops in the period. Crosby criticizes what he regards as snap judgments about individual medieval bishops made with inadequate evidence by some modern historians, warns against relying too heavily on medieval judgments that were based on impossibly high standards set by reformers, and argues that we should not focus too much on opposition between church and state. The second chapter consists of an overview of royal control of episcopal appointments, with most attention on the period up to Thomas Becket, and discusses the dual role of bishops as church officials and powerful lords. The third chapter provides a good deal of useful information, much of it set out in tables, on a variety of subjects, including episcopal appointments by royal reign; the background of bishops as regular clerics, royal clerks, or secular clerics; and the lengths of episcopal vacancies in various reigns. Scholars will find a large amount of research digested into a brief space here.

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Rickaby, Caroline, Girard d’Athee and the men from the Touraine: their roles under King John

Rickaby, Caroline, Girard d’Athee and the men from the Touraine: their roles under King John, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2011, (M. Prestwich, C. Liddy, University of Durham)

Clause 50 of Magna Carta 1215 proscribes a group of men who are never again to hold office in England. They are described as Girard d’Athée’s relatives (parentes), and although some of their names appear, no reasons are given for their inclusion in the clause. This thesis traces the lives of Girard d’Athée and his group, from their origins in the Touraine, through their arrival in England, through their responsibilities and influence under John, concluding with a brief resumé of their careers under Henry III. It also analyses the reasons for the inclusion of Clause 50 in the 1215 version of Magna Carta. Were the men proscribed because of their foreign birth or because they abused their positions as servants of the king? Did the barons fear their military might, or merely object to their misdemeanours? Did the established baronage and zealous parvenus covet the rewards bestowed on Athée and his clan or were they simply jealous of the increasingly close friendship these men were forging with John? Or was the clause nothing more than the result of a personal vendetta against members of the clan? By comparing and contrasting the careers of the men from the Touraine with that of another contemporary of theirs from the same area, Peter de Maulay, who was not proscribed in Clause 50, a clear appreciation of their value to the king and country can be determined. A balanced judgement suggests that their actions justified the king’s confidence in them, and that they did not deserve the censure and suspicion of the chroniclers, some influential members of the baronage, and several modern historians.

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Middlemass Rachel, Bodies of men: manhood and masculinity in England and northern France, c.1100-c.1250

Middlemass Rachel, Bodies of men: manhood and masculinity in England and northern France, c.1100-c.1250, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2013, (dir. R. Balzaretti, J. Barrow, University of Nottingham)

Résumé/abstract :

This study responds to a gap in the existing historiography of medieval men and masculinities around the relationships between corporeality, gender identity, group membership. and social inequality. It aims primarily to elucidate the significance of the physical body to medieval masculine ideals and its role in processes of social categorisation which privileged most men over most women, and some men over others. In particular. I focus here on the ways in which culturally specific – but surprisingly coherent – discourses about and narrative representations of the body were used to construct prototypical models of manhood. principally via claims of polarisation from and superiority to corporeally distinct « others’. The analysis presented here is undertaken within a framework which borrows from anthropological and sociological methodologies, incorporating a dual focus on the ‘natural’ or essential, as well as the socially-constructed and discursive facets of the body. The body is viewed throughout as playing a simultaneously representational and instrumental role in the construction of both individual and collective identities. It is understood here both as a vehicle for the expression of those identities and as an active agent in their production; both a product of the behavioural codes prescribed for men and a site for and resource in men’s alignment with or resistance to these codes. It is likewise accorded agency in the unequal attribution of social status to both individual male bodies and collectives thereof. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of multiple ‘capitals’, the body is treated as a cultural asset whose unequal distribution, like any other form of capital, is hypothesised here to have played a role in the institution and maintenance of deep social divisions between medieval men.

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Jones Peter, The sublime and the ridiculous: laughter, sovereignty, and sanctity at the court of Henry II (d.1189)

Jones Peter, The sublime and the ridiculous: laughter, sovereignty, and sanctity at the court of Henry II (d.1189), Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. B.M. Bedos-Rezak, New York University)

Résumé/abstract :

Laughter appears to have been an obsession for the writers surrounding the English king, Henry II (r.1154-89). They discussed the subject in a greater depth than had any other milieu of the period, produced an overflowing of satirical texts and theories, and, most of all, contributed challengingly original images of both laughing saints and kings. This dissertation explores the significance of laughter in both the writing and the politics of Henry’s court, with a particular focus on the innovative descriptions of the laughter of Thomas Becket (d.1170) and Henry II himself. Establishing, for the first time, the range of ways that laughter was conceptualized by twelfth-century thinkers, and delineating the fundamental narrative topoi through which texts from the period articulated laughter, I will provide a new assessment of the central place of laughter and humor in the political culture of the court. Reading Thomas’s and Henry’s laughter through these insights, I will then suggest an entirely new narrative of laughter’s Christianization, and will offer a fresh perspective on Henry II’s governmental strategy. Throughout, I will ultimately illuminate how laughter came to be considered, by the later twelfth century, as a truly sublime spiritual and political act. Yet I will argue that it did so at the cost of losing some of the ineffable power and awe that earlier writers imagined it to have.

The Charters of William II and Henry I

The Charters of William II and Henry I

Responsable du projet/Project leader :

Richard Sharpe (

Établissement principal/Main institution :

University of Oxford

Projet en cours/Project in progress

Description :

The overall aim is to collect, edit, and interpret the royal acts issued in the names of two English kings, William II (reigned 1087 to 1100), and his brother Henry I (reigned 1100 to 1135), who was also duke of Normandy from 1106 until 1135. Royal acts, mainly charters but also writs and other letters, are the prime documentary source for the period, providing the means to understand the workings of the realm in a way not possible from chronicles and other narrative sources.

This edition differs from previous work on documents of this period by treating beneficiary archives as a unit. Although the king issued documents for his own reasons in many circumstances, for example royal proclamations, treaties, royal letters, and writs concerning fiscal administration, these rarely survive. What remains, therefore, is very largely the material in whose preservation someone had a direct interest. Most documents, even those representing the exercise of the king’s power such as the appointment of bishops or abbots, survive through the archive of the beneficiary who received and retained the documents. Different beneficiary archives tell different stories. The organization of the edition presents, for the most part, beneficiary archives with a headnote to explain the background, including the motivations behind seeking the king’s seal and the reasons for preservation.

When complete, the edition will include several hundred beneficiary archives. The acts are not distributed evenly between them: almost half are contained in just thirty archives. The files currently available on this site represent about an eighth of the material to be included in the final edition, which will be published as a multi-volume book.

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Hammond Catherine, Family conflict in ducal Normandy, c.1025-1135

Hammond, Catherine, Family conflict in ducal Normandy, c.1025-1135, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2013, (dir. J. Hudson, University of St Andrews)

This thesis focuses on conflict within families in Normandy, c. 1025 to 1135. Despite the occurrence of several acute struggles within the ducal house during this period, and a number of lesser known but significant disputes within aristocratic families, this topic has attracted little attention from historians. Kin conflict was cast by medieval commentators as a paradox, and indeed, it is often still regarded in these terms today: the family was a bastion of solidarity, and its members the very individuals to whom one turned for support in the face of an external threat, so for a family group to turn against itself was aberrant and abhorrent. In this thesis, I draw on significant narrative and documentary evidence to consider the practice and perception of family discord. When considered in its broader setting, it emerges that kin disputes were an expected and accepted part of Norman society at this time. I begin by introducing the topic, justifying my approach, considering the relevant historiography, and providing an overview of the sources. In chapter one, I examine the representations of family and conflict in a range of primary sources to glean contemporary views. In chapters two and three, I focus on the practice of conflict within the ducal family, considering the causes of disputes, and then the place of internal ducal dissension in the Norman world. Chapter four analyses the same issues in relation to discord within aristocratic families, before chapter five explores family disputes which arose from patronage of the Church. In the conclusion, I consider the Norman example within its comparative contemporary milieu and ponder the broader themes of family conflict.

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Hunter Linsey, Charter diplomatics and norms of landholding and lordship between the Humber and Forth, c.1066-c.1250

Hunter Linsey, Charter diplomatics and norms of landholding and lordship between the Humber and Forth, c.1066-c.1250, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. J. Hudson, University of St Andrews)

This thesis closely analyses the linguistic forms of aspects of non-royal charters produced c.1066-c.1250 in the north-east of England and the south-east of Scotland, namely, consent, joint grants, separate confirmations, inheritance language, leaseholds and warranty. This study identifies the preferred forms of each studied aspect as well as variants, developments and alternatives and analyses them according to a clear chronological framework and other potential causal factors such as the status and gender of participants, location and grant type. Additionally, the spread of linguistic patterns throughout the studied region, Stringer’s “diplomatic transplant”, is examined. Firstly, the charter underwent tremendous development across this period of study becoming trusted evidence of landholding transactions routine at most levels of society and subjected to sophisticated scrutiny by legal professionals in landholding disputes. Secondly, charter language was introduced, modified or abandoned according to many influences, e.g. the emergence of early Common Law systems in both Scotland and England, the rise of the legal profession and the growth in written culture evidenced partly through the spread of monastic houses and increasing trust in the written word. Indeed, the introduction of significant legal reforms – in England from the 1160s and in Scotland during the second quarter of the thirteenth century – are repeatedly revealed to be the point at which linguistic patterns became noticeably more settled and variants became much rarer. Notably, the fact that the language patterns of the Northumberland houses better mirror the patterns seen in south-east Scotland demonstrates the contrast in the level of bureaucratic organisation against the neighbouring shires of Durham and Yorkshire. Thirdly, this thesis highlights the existence of preferred linguistic forms by individual religious houses, religious orders, families or groups of people within localities or larger geographical regions. In particular, religious houses were especially influential in the widespread adoption of some forms of language. Overall, developments and changes to charter language were streamlined, revised or modified with the dual aims of providing greater clarity and thus maximum legal protection; before legal reform the latter was much more dependent upon familial and seignorial ties, a factor reflected in the greater variety of linguistic forms.

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Traill Vanessa, The social and political networks of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy

Traill Vanessa, The social and political networks of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy: the Clare, Giffard & Tosny kin-groups, c.940 to c.1200, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2013, (dir. S. Marritt, University of Glasgow)

Over the last twenty years, the analysis of social networks has become an increasingly significant tool for sociologists, anthropologists and historians alike. Network analysis has not yet, however, been adopted extensively by historians of ducal Normandy or the Anglo-Norman realm. Although there has been some useful work on specific families or political groups, these have tended to artificially isolate networks from one another and from their broader social milieux. It has become clear that these problems can only be addressed by both inter and intra network analysis over a broader time frame, and that those networks themselves must also be conceived in broad terms. This thesis therefore considers three aristocratic kin-groups of significant contemporary and subsequent importance; the Clares, Giffards, and Tosnys, and includes both their cadet branches and their in-laws. All three groups are examined in terms of their kinship structures, their roles as lords and vassals, and their relationships to the church. While much of the material is Anglo-Norman, the chronological range extends from c.940 to c.1200. The aim has been to produce a fuller picture of how all three great family enterprises were constituted, developed, interacted with one another and were embedded within society, and to acknowledge that no man, and indeed, no kin-group, is an island entire of itself.

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Holm Olof, Självägarområdenas egenart

Holm Olof, Självägarområdenas egenart : Jämtland och andra områden i Skandinavien med småskaligt jordägande 900–1500, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. L. Runefelt, O. Ferm, Université de Stockholm)

Résumé/abstract :
This thesis takes its departure from the fact that in the 16th century there were some regions in Scandinavia where almost all land was held by freeholders, while in other regions large areas of land were held by landlords. The aim of the study is to determine which factors had been decisive in the development of this regional variation. One factor is known from earlier research: the conditions for farming, dependent on climate and natural features. In this thesis the author points out another important factor, namely the conditions for people in the countryside to acquire surplus from trade. This is done through an in-depth investigation of the society of Jämtland in the period AD 900–1500, which is then compared with other freeholders’ regions, treated briefly.It is observed that the landownership had been small-scale or mostly small-scale in all these regions for many centuries before the 16th century, and that there are strong indications of the wealthiest farmers being traders and having their surplus mostly drawn from trade activities. It is reasonable to believe that the lack of willingness to invest in estates in these regions was due to the fact that those who had resources gave priority to investments in interregional and regional trade instead. They probably saw better chances of gaining more surplus from trade activities than from the agrarian economy, given the conditions for trading and crop cultivation, respectively, that were prevailing there. In such a region, hence, an important economic force for estate-formation was missing. This will explain why certain regions, like Jämtland or Gotland, developed into and remained as freeholders’ regions.Another observation concerns the social structure of freeholders’ regions. It is observed that the societies in these regions seem to have been less hierarchical on the local level than societies in regions dominated by landlords – even though the differences in fortunes could be great.

Thomas Elizabeth, ‘We have nothing more valuable in our treasury’ : royal marriage in England, 1154-1272

Thomas, Elizabeth, ‘We have nothing more valuable in our treasury’ : royal marriage in England, 1154-1272, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. J. Hudson, University of St Andrews)

Résumé/abstract :

That kings throughout the entire Middle Ages used the marriages of themselves and their children to further their political agendas has never been in question. What this thesis examines is the significance these marriage alliances truly had to domestic and foreign politics in England from the accession of Henry II in 1154 until the death of his grandson Henry III in 1272. Chronicle and record sources shed valuable light upon the various aspects of royal marriage at this time: firstly, they show that the marriages of the royal family at this time were geographically diverse, ranging from Scotland and England to as far abroad as the Empire, Spain, and Sicily. Most of these marriages were based around one primary principle, that being control over Angevin land-holdings on the continent. Further examination of the ages at which children were married demonstrates a practicality to the policy, in that often at least the bride was young, certainly young enough to bear children and assimilate into whatever land she may travel to. Sons were also married to secure their future, either as heir to the throne or the husband of a wealthy heiress. Henry II and his sons were almost always closely involved in the negotiations for the marriages, and were often the initiators of marriage alliances, showing a strong interest in the promotion of marriage as a political tool. Dowries were often the centre of alliances, demonstrating how much the bride, or the alliance, was worth, in land, money, or a combination of the two. One of the most important aspects for consideration though, was the outcome of the alliances. Though a number were never confirmed, and most royal children had at least one broken proposal or betrothal before their marriage, many of the marriages made were indeed successful in terms of gaining from the alliance what had originally been desired.

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Bowie Colette Marie, The daughters of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Bowie, Colette Marie, The daughters of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine: a comparative study of twelfth-century royal women, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2011, (dir. M. Strickland, University of Glasgow)

Résumé/abstract :

This thesis compares and contrasts the experiences of the three daughters of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Matilda, Leonor and Joanna all undertook exogamous marriages which cemented dynastic alliances and furthered the political and diplomatic ambitions of their parents. Their later choices with regards religious patronage, as well as the way they and their immediate families were buried, seem to have been influenced by their natal family, suggesting a coherent sense of family consciousness. To discern why this might be the case, an examination of the childhoods of these women has been undertaken, to establish what emotional ties to their natal family may have been formed at this time. The political motivations for their marriages have been analysed, demonstrating the importance of these dynastic alliances, as well as highlighting cultural differences and similarities between the courts of Saxony, Castile, Sicily and the Angevin realm. Dowry and dower portions are important indicators of the power and strength of both their natal and marital families, and give an idea of their access to economic resources which could provide financial means for patronage. The thesis then examines the patronage and dynastic commemorations of Matilda, Leonor and Joanna, in order to discern patterns or parallels. Their possible involvement in the burgeoning cult of Thomas Becket, their patronage of Fontevrault Abbey, the names they gave to their children, and finally where and how they and their immediate families were buried, suggests that all three women were, to varying degrees, able to transplant Angevin family customs to their marital lands. The resulting study, the first of its kind to consider these women in an intergenerational context, advances the hypothesis that there may have been stronger emotional ties within the Angevin family than has previously been allowed for.

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Smith Nicholas J.C., Servicium debitum and scutage in twelfth-century England

Smith, Nicholas J.C., Servicium debitum and scutage in twelfth-century England, with comparisons to the Regno of southern Italy, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (University of Durham)

Résumé/abstract :

The purpose of this study is to re-assess the system of military obligation in England at the earliest time sufficient documents survive to provide an in-depth explanation. It is both an examination of the twelfth-century feudal structure and lordship arrangements as described by these documents, and how they came to be in their twelfth-century forms. This is supplemented by a similar, but briefer, evaluation of the Regno of southern Italy and of the occasional relevant documents from Normandy. An examination of the place of military obligation in the kingdom of England covers three major areas: the assessment of this obligation, the cost of service both to the king and the individual knight, and how the men actually served. These three areas offer insight into how the Normans established the servicium debitum, how knights exempted themselves from their obligation or were compensated for extra service, and various aspects of what their service entailed, such as castle guard.

A study of the returns made by tenants-in-chief in 1166 suggests that these have been misinterpreted in the past; their inspiration lay in the desire of the barons to protect themselves from excessive royal demands, rather than in the crown’s desire to update the servicium debitum. The survey conducted in the Regno earlier is unlikely to have served as a prototype for the 1166 inquiry; it was different in purpose and in form. Scutages are examined, to show the complex patterns of payment, and to suggest that under Henry II a significant number of tenants-in-chief performed their service, rather than commuted it. The Pipe Rolls are used to analyse military expenditure at a local level in two counties, Kent and Shropshire; in particular pay rates are reconstructed. A series of appendices provide details of this expenditure, along with evidence of scutages.

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Nordic Medieval Laws (NML)

Nordic Medieval Laws (NML)

Responsable du projet/Project leader : Stefan Brink (

Établissement principal/Main institution : Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen

Projet en cours/Project in progress

Description :

Aim of the project

The aim of the project is to analyse, edit, translate and comment upon all the Nordic provincial laws from the Middle Ages, for the first time. The output will be a series of 15 volumes with a translation of, and commentary upon, each law in English, and an online database consisting of facsimiles of the previously-published laws in Old Danish, Old Norwegian and Old Swedish.

Continuer la lecture de Nordic Medieval Laws (NML)

Johanna Katrin Friðriksdóttir, Women, bodies, words and power

Johanna Katrin Friðriksdóttir, Women, bodies, words and power : Women in old Norse literature, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. C. Larrington, Université d’Oxford)

Résumé/abstract :

My doctoral thesis (2010) analysed women and power in Old Norse literature. In medieval Icelandic secular prose, female characters function as literary vehicles to engage with some of the most contested values of the period, revealing the preoccupations, desires and anxieties of its authors and audiences; chief amongst these concerns women’s access to and employment of power, and men’s vulnerability. Old Norse sources offer their audiences many discrete and varied female images: women of various social and economic positions and racial origins. Many of them conflict with the stereotypes prevalent in past scholarly discourse which, mainly because of its often selective approach to the extant evidence, has largely failed to perceive the richness and heterogeneity of female images and the multiplicity of their meanings. In this thesis an extensive and diverse gallery of female images from a wide range of secular prose texts will be analysed, demonstrating how varied and complex these female literary characters can be, how they develop over time, and how different genres which existed side by side, as well as individual texts within genres, offer different perspectives on the same problems. Many of the female characters in Old Norse literature can be seen as surprisingly powerful, and the ways in which they gain agency, whether by speech or actions, will be mapped out. These strategies may or may not be socially sanctioned. The thesis explores the roles available to women, how they negotiate these roles within the restraints of patriarchy and when they are seen to transgress normative boundaries, often being depicted as monstrous in these circumstances. The picture which emerges is not a simple dichotomy; it allows for ambiguity and subversion in itself by arguing for the monstrous ‘Other’ as a category which represents human qualities that are rejected and abjected but can never be made to disappear. In short, the thesis deals with questions of female power and uncovers how the texts represent women as agents.

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Lestremau Arnaud, Pratiques anthroponymiques et identités sociales en Angleterre (mi Xe-mi XIe siècles)

Lestremau Arnaud, Pratiques anthroponymiques et identités sociales en Angleterre (mi Xe-mi XIe siècles), Thèse de doctorat soutenue le 9 décembre 2013 (dir. R. Le Jan, Université de Paris I ; co-directeur P. Bauduin, Université de Caen Basse-Normandie)


Au nombre des éléments de la vie sociale, le nom est un des plus universels. En effet, il est à la base de toute communication, dans la mesure où il permet de désigner un tiers. Cependant, le nom n’est pas neutre: il porte du sens et il permet souvent d’identifier les groupes auxquels un individu se rattache. L’étude des noms permet de comprendre une des multiples manières qu’ont les acteurs de s’inscrire dans le champ social. Le nom est une marque d’appartenance, consciente ou non, assumée ou non par son porteur. Sa dation, sa circulation, sa mémoire sont autant d’éléments qui peuvent nous renseigner sur le fonctionnement de la société. Comme outil linguistique et objet de la parole collective, mais aussi grâce à son contenu sémantique et à des phénomènes d’écho entre homonymes, le nom contribue à définir l’individu, mais aussi à l’ancrer dans le champ social. Grâce à la plupart des sources anglo-saxonnes des Xe-XIe siècles, nous menons à bien une étude complète de l’usage et des représentations du nom. Le nom peut en effet avoir des significations variables; il peut même recouvrir des identités contradictoires. Notre but, à ce titre, est de saisir tous ces niveaux de signification et d’articuler ces différentes identités. En constituant des corpus de noms et en les replaçant dans des groupes de parenté, dans des familles culturelles et dans d’autres types de communautés, nous montrons l’importance du nom pour signifier l’identité des hommes, tantôt en les distinguant les uns des autres (identité individuelle), tantôt en les inscrivant dans un ensemble d’identités collectives (notamment la parenté).


Among the elements of social life, the name is one of the most universal. Indeed, it is at the root of all communication, insofar as it allows you to designate a third party. However, the name is not neutral : it carries meanings and it often makes possible to identify the groups to which an individual belongs. The study of names thus allows you to understand how the actors are part of the social field. The name is a sign of affiliation, conscious or not, assumed or not, by the holder. Its giving, its circulation and its memory are all elements that can inform us about how societies do work. As a linguistic tool and as an object of the collective speech, but also through its semantic content and through the echoes it creates between homonyms, the name contributes to defining the individual, but also rooted him in the social field. Thanks to most of the late Anglo-Saxon sources, we carry out a comprehensive study about the naming practices and the representations of naming. The name may indeed have varying meanings and may even cover conflicting identities. Our aim, as such, is to capture ail of these levels of meanings and articulate these different identities. By setting up corpora of names and by replacing them in kinship groups, in cultural families and in other types of communities, we show the importance of the name to signify the identity of men, sometimes by distinguishing them from one another (individual identity), sometimes by placing them in a set of collective identities (mostly relatives).