The Carolingian manorial system (Grundherrschaft) is a modern concept developed in more than a century of still ongoing discussions. It is based solely on the interpretation of written sources and widely used as an open concept in historical studies to classify legal matters, personal bondage and property rights between landlords and peasants. Without much exaggeration the manorial system can be regarded as the all encompassing system of the medieval rural society. So far it is neither an archaeological concept, nor has it had much influence on archaeological research. In this paper I consider how medieval archaeology could benefit from the historical concept of manorialism, how archaeology could contribute to develop and to modify the existing concept by transforming it into a new, interdisciplinary one. Theoretical considerations will be exemplified by rural settlements from Southern Germany.
Scholars have remarked upon and studied the phenomenally rapid economic growth of the Cistercian movement for centuries, but there is currently no consensus about the impetus behind this growth. Discussions about the construction, donation, and use of mills has often appeared in works discussing Cistercian economy, but was milling the catalyst for Cistercian economic success or simply a consequence of that success? While it is generally accepted that elaborate hydraulic systems were originally incorporated into the design of new Cistercian abbeys to meet the self-sufficiency requirements detailed by the Summa carta caritatis, their presence coincided with a period of unprecedented economic growth for the order. Using Clairvaux as a model, Cistercians propagated and developed this technology throughout Europe; however, it remains unclear whether they used water power differently from other orders during this time period, or in such a way as to give them an advantage in terms of rate of economic growth. In an effort to answer these questions, I will focus on the development and usage of fulling and forge mills in France in the 12th and 13th centuries. This study will help to clarify the role that industrial mills played in the tremendous success of the order.
This paper will consider how Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale offers a subversive worldview, which suspends the hierarchies of Church and State and offers an alternative morality which rewards those who satisfy their personal desires the most imaginatively. The carnivalesque Miller’s Tale will be read as an inversion of the dominant ideology endorsing Knight’s Tale. Its emphasis on the material desires of the body creates a liberated space in which the rules of society are suspended and it is only personal desire that matters. The values espoused in the Miller’s Tale will be read as indicative of the emerging capitalist and individualist ethos in late 13th-century England.