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Kings And Aristocracy Essay Research Paper

Kings And Aristocracy Essay, Research Paper

Questions:?????? Explain the disappearance of the senatorial

aristocracy (ONE geog area if you wish) (2000). ??????????????????????? Explain

the growing involvement of bishops in secular government (2000). How far, and why, did the

senatorial aristocracy survive into the seventh century in the former empire in

the West? (1997) In what ways did barbarian

rulers rule? (1995) Were heavenly patrons more

important than worldly lords? (1995)1.


ORDER Changing

face of the aristocracy: (Ward-Perkins) w

Classical authority valued honourable office (e.g. Boethius? joy when his two sons are both

made consuls). and education (culture

dominated by exchange of elaborately written letters ? involvement required

education ? not archaic rambling but reinforcement of membership of? class). Demilitarised class. w

Early medieval aristos were militarised. Greater

interest in personal goods (e.g. Sutton Hoo treasure / e.g. liking for exotic

goods ? silk in Scandinavia and fur in the caliphate). Germanic tradition of

valuing possession of weaponry ? fighting skills integral to social status. For

old Gallo-Roman aristocrats, new attitude an inevitable consequence of society

in which war was endemic. (e.g. Italy ? demilitarised until Ostrogothic era;

wars of reconquest generalised militarisation in C6 (reports of Procopius). w


? example of feasting ? Romans recline

on couches; good food and wine to kindle intelligence and powers ?? v.????? Beowulf-style

images of drunken feasts backed by warrior ethos. These are stereotypes. w


more moral and Christian society ? but aristocracy dominated access to higher learning and retained

unchanging sense of superiority throughout the period. w

Contempt for those at the

bottom of society common to both ? (e.g. Symmachus? letter indicates his outrage at

prisoners who inconsiderately committed suicide instead of performing at the

gladiatorial games / Sidonius Apollinarius compares the educated and ignorant to

men and beasts).2.



Practical politics; note importance of kinship + dynastic hold; basis for

political relationships and inheritance. Social duties. ?

Importance of women

- link men, peace-weavers, focus of court interest groups. Critical nature

of marriage alliances. Focus for loyalties (e.g. Charlemagne?s marriage to

Hildegard served to assuage Alemannic resentment at Carolingian takeover).

Needed by kings – key role in running household. ?

Conflict between rival dynastic branches ?

vulnerability to rivals. Importance of names in indicating legitimacy. Charles the Bald tried to exclude legitimate heirs by

tonsuring them.? Neither = effective bar

- Arnulf became king of E Francia 887 despite illegitimacy ?

Sons of Charlemagne + Louis the Pious resented father?s

interference (e.g. Louis redrew boundaries of sub-kingdoms). ?

Kings had unique Palace

entourage – e.g. Adalhard 840s; years of influence under Louis the Pious ?

so influential that Charles married his niece. Adalhard became ?potens? through

proximity to the ruler. Owed much to royal favour, but ploughed it back into

their social influence – could be trusted to further royal interests. Kings

kept control. ?

Court full of young

nobles – learning soc/ pol / mil skills / networking. Also young non-nobles

and clerics; king had access to various social groups. ?

Kingship +

lordship reinforced each other. ? Expansion dynamic: ?

More threat in C8/9. Halsall?s cemetery evidence

indicates increasing aristocratic power

since C6/7 (backed up by saints? lives sources) ? e.g. Pippinids / Arnulfings. ?

RE controlled by taxation

/ army / prestige of admin jobs in state structure. C6 this system unattractive

to Franks ?

never developed. No returns ? economic conditions not right for it. No standing

army for protection. ?

How then could

the aristocracy be controlled? Was the centre of any relevance? Rewards

could be used, but it would be totally short-sighted for kings to just squander

the fisc. Problem esp acute at the periphery ? Aquitaine / Bavaria / Franconia.

Poss perpetual redistribution, but short-term solution only. ?

Hence importance

of expansion ? absence of taxation ?

?necessary? (Reuter). Used loot from Avars / Pavia (Po valley very rich).

Saxons were poor, but looting still valuable; a theatre of politics to occupy

the magnates. Nobles who didn?t go to war risked being usurped by empowered

kinsmen ? didn?t dare not to turn up ? land control was a roulette wheel ? a

paranoid existence. King?s power = as

arbiter of inheritance.3.


through example of saints? cultsw


of saints? cults was an issue of ?lite social control. Whole system reliant on

patronage. Cults were of political importance (e.g. Vulfolaic seen to pose a

threat to local authority). w


C6, G of T often wrote lives of those close to him – hence Gallic aristocrats

dominated the saintly population. Bishops like Gregory able to define cults and

heighten episcopal power through them (e.g. Gregory promoted Martin because he

was dead and Gregory could represent him as Bishop of Tours). w


good write-up and an audience were required. Saints? cults indicate the control

of the aristocracy over the lower classes. Popular base for cult facilitated or

denied by attitude of the authorities (e.g. Cosmus and Damian ? 2 Syrian

martyrs who brought their healing cult to Co ? allowed to flourish by ecc


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