IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 304: In Praise of Late Antique and Early Medieval Military Men, III: Warrior Groups as Communities of Violence

Monday 1 July 2013, 16.30-18.00

Organisers:Guido M. Berndt, Lehrstuhl für Alte Geschichte, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Laury Sarti, Geschichte der Spätantike und des frühen Mittelalters, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin
Roland Steinacher, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Moderator/Chair:Ralph Mathisen, Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Paper 304-aCommunities of Violence in Late Antique North Africa
(Language: English)
Philipp von Rummel, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom
Index terms: Military History, Political Thought, Social History
Paper 304-b'A Raging Fury': Violence, Initiation, and the War Band in Ireland and Wales
(Language: English)
David Wyatt, School of History, Archaeology & Religion, Cardiff University
Index terms: Mentalities, Military History, Social History
Paper 304-cUnsung Heroes?: Fighting Berbers and Blemmyes on the Empire's Southern Border
(Language: English)
Christian Barthel, Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS), Freie Universität Berlin
Index terms: Local History, Military History, Political Thought
Paper 304-dThe Institution of the fyrd in 9th-Century Anglo-Saxon Sources
(Language: English)
Courtnay Konshuh, Department of History, University of Winchester
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Old English, Military History, Political Thought

Late Roman and Early Medieval history are characterized to a significant extent by military activities. This is one of three sessions aiming at presenting the outcome of the works of researchers recently focussing on this and related subjects, including questions of shifting identities and requirements, the functionalisms of armed hosts, the significance of violence, and the repercussions of a gradually increasing military presence in the context of the formation of post-Roman societies.

Paper -a:
As most other regions of the Roman Empire North African saw a fast increase in violence from the mid-5th century onwards. In contrast to the enormous potential of that region in explaining general phenomena of the period and the ‘Fall of Rome’, North Africa is still broadly neglected. Presenting some selected case studies from North Africa this paper discusses the possible reasons for the rise of violence in Late Antiquity.

Paper -b:
In many pre-industrial warrior-centred societies an individual’s lifecycle may be divided into age-grades or stages through which that individual progresses with varying degrees of status. Transitions between such stages are often marked by initiation rites that may include a period of separation from the community. The behaviour of such warrior initiates is characterised by their fundamental need to demonstrate prowess, courage, virility, defiance of authority and hostility towards women. Employing anthropological, literary, and historical parallels this paper will explore the motivations, consequences, and significance of such behaviour in relation to the war bands of early medieval Ireland and Wales.

Paper -c:
Rome’s military achievements on the northern and eastern borders of the empire are among the most discussed topics in military history. In comparison the vast desert frontier surrounding Egypt has received much less scholarly attention. The paper seeks to reassess this view by analysing the extant sources concerned with Rome’s struggles against the desert tribes.

Paper -d:
This paper will look at the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle‘s description of the fyrd during the wars of King Alfred in the late 9th century. A comparison will be made to descriptions of the fyrd in other translations made during Alfred’s reign, focusing on verbs of movement in relation to landscape. Overall this paper will explore aspects of the varying values of the military as an institution, examining the military from a socio-political view within the warrior culture, and providing a broader view into the military of the Anglo-Saxon period.