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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 1320: Transformation and Renewal in Post-Roman and Early Medieval Societies, III: Late Roman and Early Medieval Leadership

Wednesday 8 July 2015, 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, Lehrstuhl für Alte Geschichte, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Moderator/Chair:Walter Pohl, Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, Universität Wien
Respondent:Steffen Patzold, Seminar für Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen
Paper 1320-aChristian Ideology and Kingship in the Post-Imperial West
(Language: English)
Robin Whelan, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Administration, Ecclesiastical History, Political Thought
Paper 1320-bWarlords and Kings: Some Thoughts about Classifying Leadership in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Guido M. Berndt, Lehrstuhl für Alte Geschichte, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Index terms: Administration, Historiography - Medieval, Military History, Political Thought
Paper 1320-cTopographies of Empire in the Early Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Jonathan P. Conant, Department of History, Brown University
Index terms: Administration, Historiography - Medieval, Political Thought

This series of five sessions aims at discussing the current state of research on reform and renewal in the transforming Roman West in the Early Middle Ages. The post-Roman world emerged from ancient structures but at the same time it was based on new political, social and economic factors and features. These new and old elements - both Roman and non-Roman - were continuously renewed and reformed during the subsequent centuries, while Rome remained an important constitutive force to the post-Roman societies under barbarian leadership, as those emerging in Italy, Spain, Gaul, Britain and Africa. The aim of the sessions is to present and discuss current pieces of research by focussing on several key aspects and questions related to this gradual change.

Paper -a:
The breakup of the empire was not the only transformation of the Roman world. By the time of Geiseric, Odoacer and Clovis, the 'Christianisation' of the imperial Mediterranean had produced far-reaching consequences. Christian culture suffused imperial ideology; moreover, emperors and their subordinates were expected to patronise the (true) church and to support the clerics who represented it. Across the Roman Empire’s Mediterranean world, politics became irreversibly Christian. In spite of sustained scholarly emphasis upon the extensive influence of Roman models in the governance of the first successor kingdoms, the importance of Christian ideology and the necessity of engagement with ecclesiastical structures has frequently been downplayed. This paper will argue that the manner in which contemporaries viewed the Christian politics of the first successor kingdoms shows profound continuities from the later Roman Empire – as well as important commonalities with the ongoing Eastern Empire. It will seek to consider how, in the fifth and early sixth centuries, clerics sought to express – and barbarian kings, to fulfil – the expectations of Christian rule which had developed in the late-antique Mediterranean.

Paper -b:
The term „Warlord“ has been invented at the beginning of the 20th century and has in the meantime made its way also in the historiography of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. This paper will look at the designations of military leaders in the written sources and presents some thoughts about the usability of the concept of early Medieval Warlords.

Paper -c:
How did contemporaries conceptualize space and geographical distance in the post-Roman world? Though both Romans and early medieval people were well attuned to the importance of borders and frontiers in structuring political space, deeply-ingrained modern ideas about the nature of territorial control are inadequate to understanding Frankish cosmology and cognitive mental maps. This paper will argue that, in keeping with Roman ways of thinking about the wider world, early medieval conceptions of political space were more episodic than modern ones, and that this imagined geographic network mapped onto a landscape of power structured by personal as well as sacred relationships--facts that facilitated the assertion of political authority over remarkably long distances.