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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1108: Histories in Transition, II: Using and Shaping the Past

Wednesday 5 July 2023, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien / Seminar für mittelalterliche Geschichte, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Organiser:Maximilian Diesenberger, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Moderator/Chair:Walter Pohl, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Paper 1108-aLists of Notable Events: Early Medieval Annotations to Easter Tables
(Language: English)
Steffen Patzold, Seminar für Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 1108-bRapine in Carolingian Chronicles
(Language: English)
Eric J. Goldberg, Department of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 1108-cLetters for a King: Charlemagne, Alcuin, and Æthelstan
(Language: English)
Joanna Story, School of Historical Studies, University of Leicester
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Manuscripts and Palaeography

The international project 'Histories in Transition' project focuses on the writing and rewriting of history in the Carolingian and post-Carolingian periods. We want to investigate whether and, if so, how new approaches to the codification of knowledge changed the conceptualisation of history, its genre boundaries, its meaning and its place in (real or imagined) libraries. We expect to find and explore a wide range of possibilities, but also want to explore the limits of these possibilities through a comparative approach between different regions, places, cultural backgrounds and textual traditions.

Paper -a:
Some of those text which were edited as 'minor annals' survive as lists of events, added on the margins of Easter tables. The paper asks what there character of lists means for their textuality and the ways we should deal with those texts as historical sources.

Paper -b:
In several classic articles from the 1980s and 1990s, Timothy Reuter articulated what is the dominant view of Carolingian warfare. Reuter explored the political benefits of plunder and tribute that the early Carolingians amassed while expanding the Frankish kingdom, and he called attention to the challenges presented by the end of this expansion during Charlemagne's last years. Historians of Carolingian warfare who have looked beyond Charlemagne's reign have tended to focus on the growing importance of fortresses and fortifications under the late Carolingians as a response to the Norse raids. This narrative omits a key element in the evolution of Carolingian warfare, which was the changing nature of military logistics. As the Frankish military shifted from expanding the frontiers to defending the heartlands, the logistics of provisioning soldiers, horses, and armies
changed in fundamental ways. Owing to Norse invasions and internecine civil wars, late Carolingian armies spent more time within Francia itself between the Rhine and Loire rivers. This militarization of the Frankish heartlands created new difficulties for provisioning armies from the traditional army tax, the haribannus. The result was that soldiers increasingly made military requisitions from the Church and common people, behavior that chroniclers criticized using the terminology of rapina or 'rapine'. My talk explores the growing preoccupation with rapina in 9th-century chronicles and considers what this new motif reveals about fundamental changes in Carolingian warfare, military logistics, and, ultimately, royal authority.

Paper -c:
An Alcuin letterbook survives in Lambeth Palace Library (MS 218). It is a large book, copied in an English square minuscule hand, with coloured, decorative titles. The script points to a date in first third of the 10th century. Its scale and ostentatious format suggest a generous patron who wanted a book designed to be seen and shown. As such, it is quite unlike any other surviving Alcuin letter collection and raises many questions about its patrons and audience. This becomes all the more intriguing when the contents of the book are examined, since the letters selected are almost exclusively those written to Charlemagne, including many of those devoted to the topic of good kingship. The potential English audience for such letters in the earlier 10th century must surely include the elite of the West Saxon dynasty, perhaps even Æthelstan himself who went out of his way to cultivate contacts with rulers in Francia and beyond. The decision to commission a copy of these letters, in such style, points to a historical consciousness that recognised the relevance of these letters for a contemporary audience.