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

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

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

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

Synopsis

13 papers by 16 leading archaeologists and historians of late antiquity and the early middle ages break new ground in their discussion, analysis and criticism of present interpretations of early medieval rituals and their material correlates. Some deal with rituals relating to death, life cycles and the circulation in other contexts of objects otherwise used in the burial ritual. Others are concerned with the symbolism and ideology of royal power, the formation of a political ideology east of the Rhine from the mid-5th century onwards, and penance rituals in relation to Carolingian episcopal discourse on ecclesiastical power and morale. All deal with the creation of new identities, cultures, norms and values, and their expression in new rituals and ideas from the period of the Great Migrations through the Later Roman Empire down to the society of Beowulf and the later Carolingians.

Excerpt

This book is one in a series produced in the context of the European Science Foundation programme The Transformation of the Roman World. It is the product of the sub-group of scholars working under the title 'Power and Society'. The meetings during which the papers were presented and at times fiercely debated in an admirably open-minded way, took place between 1993 and 1996. It has taken some time to prepare the volume for the press, since some papers were submitted only after a fairly extended process of further revision. The patience of other contributors can be considered a sign of the friendship that grew among the members of the group. It is they, the contributors to this volume, to whom we are grateful for the productive and congenial atmosphere they created.

Originally, it was envisaged that this volume would be edited by the first editor alone, but his request to Jinty Nelson to do some translating and 'englishing' led to such a large involvement that he asked her to co-operate in the editing. Her acceptance of this extra work is highly valued by the first editor and he is very grateful.

We would like to thank Professor H.H. van Regteren Altena for his support in the first years of the programme. Our thanks also go to the ESF and the members of its staff who have been involved in the Transformation of the Roman World programme, especially Max Sparreboom, Vuokko Lepistö and Genevieve Schauinger. We have greatly appreciated the support of the co-ordinators of the programme, Evangelos Chrysos, Javier Arce and Ian Wood. Javier Arce, who supervised our group though we always considered him a member of it too, was always ready to help in organising our meetings ('he must know everyone in the Mediterranean world …'; 'this letter will open that door …'!) Ian Wood gave invaluable encouragement in the editing of the papers. We also want to thank our publishers Brill, in the person of Julian Deahl: his patience is especially appreciated. The first editor would like to thank the members of the Pionier-Project 'Power and Elites' at the University of Amsterdam, which provided an inspiring home-context during the first years of our ESF programme, as well as the National Science Foundation in the Netherlands which financed it and provided the opportunity . . .

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