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.
TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIAL
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.
SKILLS REQUIRED OF CAROLINGIAN
KINGS TO CONTROL NOBLES:Nelson: ?
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. ?
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. ?
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.
ELITE DOMINANCE OF SOCIETY ?
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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