Pierre Bauduin. le Monde Franc et Les Vikings, VIIIe-Xe Siecle

By Cattaneo, Gregory | Scandinavian Studies, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Pierre Bauduin. le Monde Franc et Les Vikings, VIIIe-Xe Siecle


Cattaneo, Gregory, Scandinavian Studies


Pierre Bauduin. Le Monde franc et les Vikings, VIIIe-Xe siecle. Paris: Albin Michel, 2009. Pp. 4-60.

For the last fifteen years, Pierre Bauduin has been producing fruitful research on various topics connected with Scandinavian and French medieval history, such as the ethno genesis and the territorial boundaries of early Normandy, the Scandinavian establishments in Western Europe, the integration of the Vikings in the Frankish kingdom, questions of ethnic identities, and a useful synthesis on the Vikings. This work has made him a respected and influential specialist of the Vikings in his country and some might see in his work a continuation of the work of the late Lucien Musset, well-known by our readers. Le Monde franc et les Vikings, VIIIe- Xe siecle represents both a good achievement of his previous research and a major revitalization of the studies of the relations between the Frankish world and the Scandinavian societies from the eighth to the tenth centuries. Indeed, writing in a post-war context, Lucien Musset and Louis Halphen addressed the "invasions" in terms of a capitulation to the enemy in a climate of defeatism. In this book it is the concept of accommodation that guides Pierre Bauduin's reflection and produces a new approach of the Viking impact in the regnum Francorum. Accommodation is defined by the author as "a process of regulation between new-comers and established communities and the strategies of coexistence between these groups" (36) and is used in order to point out "the mechanisms that could have helped or not the integration of the Vikings in native societies" (25). Moreover, accommodation is also "a concept allowing us to analyze the phenomena of compromise and adaptation, in various contexts, of a society facing a population that it considered at a moment of its history, the settlement in its territory" (343).

In chapters two and three, P. Bauduin discusses the general frame of negotiation through a detailed study of the terminology used in the written sources. If most of the transactions are not clearly mentioned in the written sources, one might deduct from them. Many types of agreements appear, overcoming the lack of actual treaties, such as pax and the relation of amicitia. The stories of miracles concerning the Vikings are used by the author as an example: in the early 870s, Saint Malo saves the villagers of Cherrueix from the Vikings after they had given him four deniers in donation. According to Bauduin's analysis, the donation might hide a tribute given to the Vikings. Many contemporary stories are distorted by ideological factors and it is probably the best quality of the author to renew the reading and use of well known-sources. As we will discover in the examples selected all throughout the book, Bauduin denounces what he calls an "apologetic vision of history," a mental construct opposing the subjectivity of the medieval writers to the historical truth: "one of its effect was to fuel the controversy about the impact of the Vikings' invasions and the toughness of the choc [...] that some considered as a mental construct fueled by an apologetic view of history" (223). According to Bauduin, this debate hides one element: the part of circumstances in which the men of the time might have written down their story. As a consequence, Bauduin's approach tends to restitute this element in order to obtain a more dynamic approach of a history of the relation to one another. For example the narration of Scandinavian destructions can conceal a critic of the inability of the royal power to defend the territory with efficiency whereas the story of a peace can glorify the king as a rex pacificus. In this context the "basic grammar of these relations passes through the most universally recognized elements in ancient societies: the oaths, the hostages, the gift-giving system" (86). Places of negotiation are well-selected and prepared. Due to the imprecision of the documentation available, Bauduin selected only two types: the border and the assemblies.

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