Courts, Elites, and Gendered Power in the Early Middle Ages: Charlemagne and Others, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Courts, Elites, and Gendered Power in the Early Middle Ages

Charlemagne and Others, 1st Edition

By Janet L. Nelson


346 pages

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Hardback: 9780754659334
pub: 2007-06-28
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A major theme in the volume of articles by Janet Nelson is the usefulness of gender as a category of historical analysis. Papers range widely across early medieval time and geographical as well as social space, but most focus on the Carolingian period and on royalty and elites. The workings of dynastic political power are viewed in social as well as political context, and the author explores the realities of gendered power, which while constraining women, gave them distinctive possibilities for agency. These papers offer new perspectives on the Carolingian world in general and on Charlemagne's reign in particular.


’This Variorum edition of articles published between 1990 and 2004, along with one new essay, reconfirms Janet Nelson’s role as one of the most important of contemporary voices in both medieval studies and gender history.’ Early Medieval Europe ’… [the author] is a giant in the field, who knows that myths concerning Charlemagne, which began before his corpse grew cold, are difficult to lay to rest.’ H-France Review 'Professor Dame Janet Nelson has been rather more than just a participant in the recent work on courts, élites and gendered power that is attested by some of the essays here, which were first published in collections on those subjects: often she has been its instigator, or its inspiration. Since much of her published output has consisted of essays of this kind, which sometimes offer as much insight as many a book-length study, a compilation of her work on those themes over the last twenty-five years is very welcome.' English Historical Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part 1 Gender and Power: Gendering courts in the early medieval West; The wary widow; Les femmes et l'évangélisation au IXe siècle; The problematic in the private; Monks, secular men, and masculinity, c. 900; Peers in the early Middle ages; Basilissai: power and its limits. Part 2 Charlemagne and Others: Bad kingship in the earlier Middle Ages; Bertrada; Making a difference in 8th-century politics: the daughters of Desiderius; Was Charlemagne's court a courtly society?; Why are there so many different accounts of Charlemagne's imperial coronation? (first publication); The voice of Charlemagne; Aachen as a place of power; Charlemagne - pater optimus?; Charlemagne the man; Charlemagne: 'father of Europe'?; Index.

About the Author

Janet L. Nelson is Professor of Medieval History at King's College London, UK.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Medieval