Power and Its Problems in Carolingian Europe: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Power and Its Problems in Carolingian Europe

1st Edition

By Stuart Airlie


328 pages

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A key theme in this collection of thirteen essays is the creative tension between the Carolingian dynasty and its aristocratic followers across 250 years. The first section explores the rising dynasty's attempts to consolidate its power through war and rewards. The second section focuses on the exercise of authority through a complex system of governance and representation, and the pivotal role played by the courts of Charlemagne and his successors. In the third section, we see the Carolingian system undergoing a crisis of legitimacy, challenged by civil war, royal divorce, and aristocratic encroachment on dynastic exclusivity. These essays anatomise the dynamics of power relations in the greatest empire of the early medieval west.


'This selection of thirteen articles, originally published between 1990 and 2007, confirms Stuart Airlie’s standing as a foremost interpreter of Carolingian political culture, and as a superb essayist too.' English Historical Review 'Few if any historians these days write as stylishly and empathetically as Stuart Airlie, or with such wit. He has complicated, and humanized, what used often to seem a crude and violent political culture, and his Carolingian world is people with men and women who thought as well as felt … Airlie's range of literary and interdisciplinary reference is as phenomenal as his historical one. He has made himself at home in the major scholarly traditions … His citations … are placed with absolute precision into substantial historical arguments where never a word is wasted.' Early Medieval Europe

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part 1 The Rise of the Carolingians: The Frankish aristocracy as supporters and opponents of Boniface; Towards a Carolingian aristocracy; Narratives of triumph and rituals of submission: Charlemagne's mastering of Bavaria; Charlemagne and the aristocracy: captains and kings. Part 2 Carolingian Authority: The aristocracy in the service of the state in the Carolingian period; Bonds of power and bonds of association in the court circle of Louis the Pious; The palace of memory: the Carolingian court as political centre; Semper Fideles? Loyauté envers les Carolingiens comme constituant de l'identité aristocratique. Part 3 Crises in the Carolingian World: The world, the text and the Carolingian: royal, aristocratic and masculine identities in Nithard's Histories; Private bodies and the body politic in the divorce case of Lothar II; The nearly men: Boso of Vienne and Arnulf of Bavaria; 'Sad stories of the death of kings': narrative patterns and structures of authority in Regino of Prüm's Chronicle; The anxiety of sanctity: St Gerald of Aurillac and his Maker; Index.

About the Author

Stuart Airlie is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Glasgow, 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 [email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Ancient / General