The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987

The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987

The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987

The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987

Synopsis

An exciting examination of the entire history of the Carolingian 'dynasty' in western Europe. The author shows the whole period to be one of immense political, religious. cultural and intellectual dynamism; not only did it lay the foundations of the governmental and administrative institutions of Europe and the organisation of the Church, but it also securely established the intellectual and cultural traditions which were to dominate western Christendom for centuries to come.

Excerpt

Previous work on the Carolingians has either given undue prominence to Charlemagne at the expense of his predecessors and successors, has sketched their history in the general context of European developments in the Middle Ages, or has concentrated on particular themes, regions or small portions of the period. My aim has been, rather, to provide a political narrative and analysis concerning the Carolingian kings, the aristocracy and the church in their social context. I have presented the Carolingian kings, from Pippin III (751-68) to Louis V (986-7), not as a line of kings who made and failed to preserve an Empire, but as a succession of, for the most part, able rulers who raised themselves above their peers and who extended their authority and landed wealth, but whose exercise of authority and influence was gradually eroded by others among their contemporaries in similar bids for power. Because studies of Carolingian Italy and the history of the east Franks and Germany after 800 have been or are being written, I have more or less confined myself after 843 to the west Frankish kingdom.

The practice of kingship and government, the kings' policies towards the church, the continuous struggle between king and nobles and the development of the territorial principalities are principal themes in this book. I have devoted particular attention to the foundation of Normandy, Brittany and Flanders and the emergence of the Robertian (or Capetian) family. Subsidiary themes are the developments in learning, culture and the religious life. Wherever possible I have examined the source, both in manuscript and print, afresh. While I have been able to include my own research in many sections of this book, I have also drawn extensively on recent Continental scholarship on the Carolingians with the intention of making it more generally available to the English reader.

Citation of primary sources is to be found both in the text and in the notes in an abbreviated form. Reference to secondary material has had to be kept, for reasons of space, to the minimum. I have thus usually only cited the most essential contribution to a particular issue in the notes. The spelling of personal names in the early medieval period always presents problems; I have adopted throughout, with the exception of such accepted name forms as Charlemagne . . .

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