Archives de catégorie : Formes et rituels de pouvoir / Forms and rituals of power

Corsi Maria, Elite networks and courtly culture in medieval Denmark

Corsi Maria, Elite networks and courtly culture in medieval Denmark: Denmark in Europe, 1st to 14th centuries, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. Sally N. Vaughn, University of Houston)

Résumé/abstract :

This dissertation advances the study of the cultural integration of Denmark with continental Europe in the Middle Ages. By approaching the question with a view to the longue durée, it argues that Danish aristocratic culture had been heavily influenced by trends on the Continent since at least the Roman Iron Age, so that when Denmark adopted European courtly culture, it did so simultaneously to its development in the rest of Europe. Because elite culture as it manifested itself in the Middle Ages was an amalgamation of that of Ancient Rome and the Geiuianic tribes, its origins in Denmark is sought in the interactions between the Danish territory and the Roman Empire. Elites in Denmark sought to emulate Roman culture as a marker of status, with pan-European elite networks facilitating the incorporation of Roman material items and social norms in Denmark, thus setting the pattern for later periods. These types of networks continued to play an important role in the interactions between Denmark and the successor kingdoms to the Roman Empire in the Early Middle Ages, leading to the development of an increasingly homogenized elite culture in Denmark and on the Continent. Danish elites drew on the material and ideological cultural models of their southern neighbors, using Frankish imports to signify status and power, much as Roman imports had been used earlier. The economic, diplomatic, and military ties that developed in the Early Middle Ages remained important conduits for the adoption of European aristocratic culture into the High Middle Ages, while the conversion to Christianity by the Danes enabled Danish elites to take part in the new educational networks associated with the rise of universities across Europe. All of these long-standing ties meant that the Danish aristocracy actively participated in the development of medieval courtly culture, including cavalry warfare and knighthood, courtly food consumption and feasting, and courtly dress and ornamentation, resulting in increased social differentiation between those who could take part in the new courtly culture and those who could not. Thus, Denmark was never outside of Europe, and when Danish elites adopted medieval chivalric and courtly culture, they did so contemporaneously with their counterparts in other parts of Europe.

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Kaye Henrietta, Serving the man that ruled: aspects of the domestic arrangements of the household of King John, 1199-1216

Kaye Henrietta, Serving the man that ruled: aspects of the domestic arrangements of the household of King John, 1199-1216, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2013, (dir. S. Church, University of East Anglia)

King John played a direct role in the domestic arrangements of his household. He shifted the function of officials, moulded the structure of household offices and took personal control over the purveyance of food, wine and luxuries. During his reign, John adapted his household to suit his circumstances and personal method of ruling. These findings reveal that a medieval king could be directly involved in the minutiae of his domestic establishment; this is an aspect of kingship not previously noticed by historians. It is upon these findings that this thesis makes its greatest original contribution to our understanding of the period. To reach these conclusions, this thesis examines the officials at court and in the localities who enabled the domestic side of the household to function effectively. Hitherto, the medieval royal household of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries has been studied as part of the wider system of Angevin government. The political, administrative and financial elements of court are, however, entirely outside my remit. This thesis interrogates the evidence of the household ordinances from the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, by using a corpus of record sources extant from 1199 onwards, which break through the façade of departmentalism to reveal the complexity of the royal household. The king’s chamber and his stewards are the focus of the first two chapters. These chapters show the changing nature of the household; they reveal the expansion of the chamber’s sphere of function and the decline of the stewards’ domestic role. The purveyance of household victuals is the focus of the final three chapters. These chapters demonstrate how the peripatetic nature of John’s household was enabled through a network of local and court officials. By serving King John in his domestic needs, these officials were a vital tool in the facilitation of his rule.

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Cartwright Charlotte, Matilda of Flanders in Normandy: a study of eleventh century female power

Cartwright Charlotte, Matilda of Flanders in Normandy: a study of eleventh century female power, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. P. Stafford, University of Liverpool)

Résumé/abstract :

Matilda of Flanders was the wife of William II, count/duke of Normandy and, from 1066, king of the English. This thesis is a study of her, and specifically of her power and authority, with a focus on her activity in Normandy rather than in England. This work builds on the existing historiography to examine Matilda in Normandy as a countess, and in comparison as a queen after 1066. The focus throughout is on contemporary sources, especially the writings of Dudo of Saint Quentin, William of Jumièges, William of Poitiers, and the more than five hundred surviving Norman and Anglo-Norman charters from the period 996-1086. The issue of legitimate marriage, which made a woman a wife and gave her access to power and authority through her family role, was critical, and Matilda’s marriage can be established as legitimate and secure. The bulk of this thesis considers the activity of the comital/ducal women recorded within the Norman charters, focusing on the actions which reveal power, and the descriptions which suggest the way in which they, and their authority, were perceived. Throughout, Matilda is compared with her predecessors, but also with contemporary men, especially the male members of the family. Close study of the source material reveals a Norman court in the tenth and eleventh century where family women, especially the legitimate wives of the count/dukes, were important actors. Matilda, however, was distinct from her predecessors: her power and authority greater than theirs. During her lifetime, there are hints at the development of an office of countess, and she appears to have acted as both a regent and a deputy in Normandy after the Conquest of England. Her activity as a queen, and the comparison with her as a countess, sheds light on both roles, suggesting that countesses could exercise a quasi queenly power, but also that coronation and inauguration set queens apart. However, even after Matilda’s coronation, the role of ‘wife’ was still important, as was family power.

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Palsson Vidar, Power and Political Communication. Feasting and Gift Giving in Medieval Iceland

Palsson Vidar, Power and Political Communication. Feasting and Gift Giving in Medieval Iceland, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. T. A. Brady, Université de Californie)

Résumé/abstract :

The present study has a double primary aim. Firstly, it seeks to analyze the sociopolitical functionality of feasting and gift giving as modes of political communication in later twelfth- and thirteenth-century Iceland, primarily but not exclusively through its secular prose narratives. Secondly, it aims to place that functionality within the larger framework of the power and politics that shape its applications and perception. Feasts and gifts established friendships. Unlike modern friendship, its medieval namesake was anything but a free and spontaneous practice, and neither were its primary modes and media of expression. None of these elements were the casual business of just anyone. The argumentative structure of the present study aims roughly to correspond to the preliminary and general historiographical sketch with which it opens: while duly emphasizing the contractual functions of demonstrative action, the backbone of traditional scholarship, it also highlights its framework of power, subjectivity, limitations, and ultimate ambiguity, as more recent studies have justifiably urged. It emphasizes action as discourse.

Glørstad Zanette, Ringspennen og kappen

Glørstad Zanette, Ringspennen og kappen. Kulturelle møter, politiske symboler og sentraliseringsprosesser i Norge ca. 800-950, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir.  L. Hedeager, Université d’Oslo)

Résumé :

Den omfattende ekspansjonen fra Norge mot De britiske øyer besto ikke bare av plyndringstokter og etableringen av norrøne kolonier. Vikingene tok i like stor grad politiske ideer og symboler med seg tilbake til Norge. I en rekke graver i Norge fra vikingtiden er det funnet rester etter store kappespenner som enten har vært hentet fra Irland, eller som er laget i Norge etter irske forbilder. I Irland var disse praktspennene, sammen med tilhørende praktkapper, sentrale statussymboler for ulike kongsdynastier som lå i konflikt med hverandre. Forekomsten av disse spennene i norske graver tyder på at den politiske eliten i Norge i vikingtiden bevisst overførte og innlemmet kappespennen og kappen som politiske symboler i det urolige politiske klimaet på 800- og 900-tallet. Disse symbolene ble trolig aktivt brukt for å skape nye allianseformer som maktgrunnlag for den politiske eliten.

Høyst sannsynlig har den politiske eliten i Norge i denne perioden, inkludert Harald Hårfagre og hans sønner Eirik Blodøks og Håkon den Gode vært engasjert i de omfattende konfliktene om politisk og økonomisk makt rundt Irskesjøen, med Dublin som vitalt senter. Når kappespennen innlemmes som del av drakten for elitens menn i Norge, kan dette derfor relateres både til den sosio-politiske utviklingen rundt Irskesjøen, men også til de interne politiske prosessene i Norge på samme tid. Tidligere har man ment at Harald Hårfagre må ha forsøkt å befeste makten gjennom økonomiske, administrative og militære tiltak. Den bevisste overføringen av irske statussymboler kan tyde på at makten også har vært forsøkt befestet gjennom å innføre ideologiske og rituelle endringer.

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Goeres Erin Michelle, The King is dead, long live the King

Goeres Erin Michelle, The King is dead, long live the King : commemoration in skaldic verse of the Viking Age, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. H. O’Donoghue, Université d’Oxford)

Résumé/abstract :

This thesis examines the function of commemorative skaldic verse at the Viking-age court. The first chapter demonstrates that the commemoration of past kings could provide a prestigious genealogical record that was used to legitimize both pagan and early Christian rulers. In the ninth and early tenth centuries, poets crafted competing genealogies to assert the primacy of their patrons and of their patrons’ religions. The second chapter looks at the work of tenth-century poets who depict their rulers’ entrances into the afterlife. Such poets interrogate the role public speech and poetic discourse play in the commemoration of the king, especially during the political turmoil that follows his death. A discussion follows of the relationship between poets and their patrons in the tenth and eleventh centuries: although this relationship is often praised as one of mutual trust and reliance, the financial aspects of the relationship were often juxtaposed uneasily with expressions of emotional attachment. The death of the patron caused a crisis in these seemingly contradictory bonds between poet and patron. The final chapter demonstrates the dramatic development in the eleventh century of deeply emotional commemorative verse as poets become adopted into their patrons’ families through such Christian ceremonies as baptism and marriage. In these verses poets express their grief after the death of the king and record the performances of public mourning on the part of the kings’ followers. As the petty warlords of the Viking age adapted to medieval models of Christian kingship, the role of the skald changed too. Formerly serving as a propagandist and retainer in the king’s service, a skald documenting the lives of kings at the end of the Viking age could occupy an almost infinite number of roles, from kinsman and friend to advisor and hagiographer.

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