Rituals of Power: From Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages

By Frans Theuws; Janet L. Nelson | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Lotte Hedeager


The study of the European peoples' early histories is complex and difficult to synthesize. Part of the explanation lies in the tendency for researchers to rely upon terminology and concepts stemming from the early twentieth century.2 Research in the field of prehistory, both then and now, has served to establish and legitimise the authenticity of national or ethnic identities3 and the dominant historical-ethnographical questions have been where did these peoples come from, where did they migrate to, and what became of them? From an early stage it has been assumed that these peoples belonged to well defined, ethnically homogeneous groups, biological entities that have somehow remained intact, untouched by other kinds of historical change.

This idea of ethnic homogeneity was initially called into question through the pioneering work of Reinhard Wenskus in Stammesbildung und Verfassung, published in 1961. Since that time it has no longer been possible to take for granted the complexities of migration, or

1 I am indebted to the Carlsberg Foundation, Copenhagen, for the four-year
grant that financed my work on the Migration Period. This article was originally
completed in 1996. I am especially grateful to all the members of the 'Power and
Society'—group for inspiring discussions and provocative questions. I am special
thankful to Janet Nelson who has acted as a 'superviser' in the field of history.
Thanks to Tim Earle, Peter Heather, Frands Herschend, Richard North and Elis-
abeth Vestergaard for the use of still unpublished articles and to Peter Heather,
Janet Nelson, Frans Theuws, Walter Pohl, Herwig Wolfram and Ian Wood for
extremely useful and inspiring comments. I have to stress that whatever deficien-
cies remain are the fault of no one but myself.

Fiona Campbell and Janet Nelson translated this paper.

2 W. Pohl, Tradition, Ethnogenese und literarische Gestaltung eine Zwischenbi-
lanz. Ethnogenese und Überlieferung, eds. K. Brunner and B. Merta (Wien and München,
1994), p. 10.

3 S. Shennan, “Introduction. Archaeological approaches to cultural identity”,
Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity, ed. S. Shennan (One World Archaeology
10) (London, 1989), p. 9.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Rituals of Power: From Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 486

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?