Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia, 880-1010: Pathways of Power

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia, 880-1010: Pathways of Power

Article excerpt

Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia, 880-1010: Pathways of Power. By Jonathan Jarre tt. [Studies in History, New Series. A Royal Historical Society Publication.] (Rochester, NY: The Boydell Press, an imprint of Boydell & Brewer. 2010. Pp. xii, 208. $90.00. ISBN 978-0-861-93309-9.)

This is a study of Catalonia in the tenth century (one hesitates to use a term such as the long tenth century), when the Christian princes of northeastern Iberia gained some advantages, not all of them permanent, over the Islamic Caliphate on the one hand and the faltering Carolingian kings on the other. Catalonian scholars have examined the years from the emergence of autonomous counts (c. 880) to the temporary but dramatic Christian conquest of Córdoba (1010) in terms of the formation of something recognizable as Catalonia. Even if the term Catalonia did not come into use until the twelfth century, the establishment of a set of independent polities within and south of the eastern Pyrenees under various counts, mostly of the same family, has been regarded as the origin of the great medieval principality. The destruction of Barcelona by al-Mansur in 985 and the response of Count Borrell II were commemorated in the late 1980s as constituting the "millennium" of Catalonia, and if this did not meet with universal agreement as a precise date, the "process of independence" - of which it forms at least a part - has dominated historiography, to the neglect, according to Jonathan Jarre tt, of asking what really held the fledgling counties together and allowed them to flourish.

Rather than looking at the tenth century in terms of the future Catalonia, Jarrett aims to consider the region as a neglected part of the history of the Carolingian empire. Although the only evidence of interest from the distant and beleaguered descendants of Charlemagne comes in the form of a few ecclesiastical confirmations, Jarrett wants to examine the substantial documentary evidence from Catalonia to understand Carolingian institutions and practices. …

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