The Middle Ages without Feudalism: Essays in Criticism and Comparison on the Medieval West, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Middle Ages without Feudalism

Essays in Criticism and Comparison on the Medieval West, 1st Edition

By Susan Reynolds


328 pages

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Paperback: 9781138108004
pub: 2017-07-28
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This volume brings together articles (including two hitherto unpublished pieces) that Susan Reynolds has written since the publication of her Fiefs and Vassals (1994). There she argued that the concepts of the fief and of vassalage, as generally understood by historians of medieval Europe, were constructed by post-medieval historians from the works of medieval academic lawyers and the writers of medieval epics and romances. Six of the essays reprinted here continue her argument that feudalism is unhelpful to understanding medieval society, while eight more discuss other aspects of medieval society, law, and politics which she argues provide a better insight into the history of western Europe in the Middle Ages. Three range outside the Middle Ages and western Europe in considering the idea of the nation, the idea of empire, and the problem of finding a consistent and comprehensible vocabulary for comparative and interdisciplinary history.


'The articles collected in this volume cohere very well … never one to shy away from sacred cows, medieval history has been much the richer for Reynolds's contributions, as any reader of this volume will be able to testify.' English Historical Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Feudalism: Afterthoughts on Fiefs and Vassals; Carolingian elopements as a sidelight on counts and vassals; Fiefs and vassals in 12th-century Jerusalem: a view from the West; Fiefs and vassals in Scotland: a view from outside; Did all the land belong to the king?; The use of feudalism in comparative history. Part II Law: Medieval law; The emergence of professional law in the long 12th century. Part III States and Nations: Government and community; The historiography of the medieval state; Our forefathers? Tribes, peoples and nations in the age of migrations; How different was England?; Trust in medieval society and politics; The idea of a nation as a political community; Empires: a problem of comparative history; Secular power and authority in the Middle Ages; Vocabularies for comparative and interdisciplinary history; Index.

About the Author

Susan Reynolds is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Historical Research, UK, and an Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

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 / General
HISTORY / Medieval