Almost without exception, late 15th-century Spanish building accounts reveal a world dominated by foreigners, from leading masters such as Juan Guas and Egas Coeman to undistinguished builders identified only by epithets such as ‘Francés’ or ‘de Bruselas’. Several recent studies have considered the stylistic consequences of such impressive migration. Yet practical questions of adaptation, assimilation, and collaboration with locals have been unevenly explored, especially in reference to the Kingdom of Castile, where documentary sources are scarcer than in neighbouring Aragon and Navarre. Using municipal and guild regulations to circumvent documentary lacunae, this paper will consider the learning process through which immigrant ‘Others’ adapted to different materials and forms, and the bureaucratic boxes they had to tick to assuage locals’ fears of malpractice and unfair competition. Pinpointing what contemporaries identified as elements of difference will in turn reveal some defining features of Late Gothic Castilian construction.
William of Valence, half-brother of Henry III, came to England after his family’s defeat in 1242. In ten years, he and his brothers became most influential and powerful lords of England, which triggered the baronial revolt of 1258. After the end of the revolt, William was the only Lusignan brother who decided to stay in England. At the end of his life, he was a very integrated lord, among the most faithful representative of his nephew Edward I in England and Gascony. Nevertheless, its French estates are still weighty, which makes him a very representative of aristocratic diaspora and of the nobiliar adaptations face to the enforcement of royal power, the birth of nation and the rejection of strangers.
The Vikings who penetrated and ultimately settled western Russia have received rather less attention than their counterparts who terrorized the rest of Europe, but in many ways their legacy proved far longer-lasting. From about the mid-7th century, merchants, warriors, and kings began to make their mark in the eastern Baltic region, and in the centuries that followed made permanent settlements at crucial points along the prosperous trade routes that linked Russia to the Abbasid caliphate. While these settlements began, they were ethnically distinct from their Slavic and Finnish neighbors, but like any immigrant community, they eventually assimilated into the linguistic and cultural majority. Their greatest triumph was the establishment of the Rurikid Dynasty, which linked Novgorod and Kiev, forming the first recognizable Russian state – all while maintaining diplomatic links with Scandinavian royal houses. They also formed lucrative alliances with the Byzantine Empire, and in doing so probably joined the Orthodox fold long before Vladimir of Kiev had himself baptized in 988. However, the idea of Swedish Norsemen establishing a royal dynasty to rule over previously unruly Slavic tribes has proven to be controversial and perhaps even polarizing, and some scholars have even put their research through some excessive linguistic gymnastics in an attempt to prove a Slavic origin for the Rurikids. These conflicting opinions make the historiography exceptionally confusing to navigate, but they also paradoxically prove the point that ethnic labels changed in their meanings across time—and that assimilation and fusion were everyday realities in the trade networks of early medieval Russia.