The Society of Norman Italy

The Society of Norman Italy

The Society of Norman Italy

The Society of Norman Italy

Synopsis

This book is a wide-ranging collection of essays about different aspects of the society of southern Italy and Sicily from the eleventh through to the thirteenth centuries. Of the eleven contributors, seven are from Continental Europe, most of whom have never before published in English. The volume devotes particular attention to the evolution of the social structure, to regional differences, the Church, and to the position of Greek and Arabic Christians and Muslims within the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. The authors, all acknowledged experts in this field, draw upon an unrivalled knowledge of the contemporary sources, both published and unpublished. This volume will therefore be a most important resource for both scholars and students of this fascinating area of medieval history, on which relatively little has hitherto been written in English.

Excerpt

The idea for a volume of essays by leading historians of the Norman kingdom of Sicily, to be published in English, was first raised during a conversation between Jeremy Johns and myself on an aeroplane flying from Palermo to London in the spring of 1992. That it has come to fruition is largely due to the encouragement of Julian Deahl, commissioning editor at Brill publishers. The original intention was to commission a series of entirely new essays, both on the various regions of southern Italy and on a variety of themes relating to the kingdom as a whole. The completed volume still bears traces of this plan, but is neither so comprehensive as originally envisaged nor has it been entirely written de novo. Considerations of length and the availability of suitable participants, as well as the many other commitments of those who wished to play a part, inevitably modified the original concept. Thus only some provinces have been discussed separately, and while a number of themes have been examined there have been others that might equally merit attention, but which we have been unable to include. A chapter on the aristocratic social structure was commissioned but never delivered, and although several contributors, notably Martin and Metcalfe, touch upon them, in retrospect we might well have devoted more attention to the peasants whose labours underpinned the whole edifice of south Italian society, as indeed they did every medieval society. It was also decided, with regret, to exclude art historical, and intellectual and cultural, chapters. Here the editors were conscious that, while there are many gaps in the field, there is a reasonably broad range of studies available in English, whereas other aspects of the society of the Mezzogiorno have received little or no attention in that language, a state of affairs that this book is intended to remedy. Furthermore, having for some years taught a course on Norman Sicily to university students, first as a second-year option and latterly as a document-based special subject, I was very conscious not just of how limited the scope of the available scholarship in English was, but also of how much Anglophone students missed through being unable to read the work of distinguished historians from Europe who have made important . . .

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