Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Politics of Memory and Identity in Carolingian Royal Diplomas: The West Frankish Kingdom (840-987)

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Politics of Memory and Identity in Carolingian Royal Diplomas: The West Frankish Kingdom (840-987)

Article excerpt

The Politics of Memory and Identity in Carolingian Royal Diplomas: The West Frankish Kingdom (840-987). By Geoffrey Koziol. [Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy, 19 ] (Turnhout: Brepols. 2012. Pp. xx, 661. euro100,00. ISBN 978-2-503-53595-1.)

After reading Geoffrey Koziol's latest book, this reviewer would like to turn to the audience, especially his French colleagues, and exclaim, voici, une merveilleuse histoire de la France ou plutôt de la Francia occidentalis de 840 à 987-although this remark would only correspond to its subtitle.This work represents the author's passionate plea for the relevance of diplomatics and Urkundenforschung in contemporary medieval studies. For a great many scholars, this plea is not really new, as their training encompassed the use of formal diplomatics as well as charters for writing full-fledged history in the vein of Marc Bloch's ogre of the fairy tale. So any historian of what is now Austria or Bavaria in the early-medieval period would be at a loss without charters. But Koziol's endeavor is not one of "reinventing the wheel." Instead, this book builds a bridge between medievalists who understand the impor- tance of charters and diplomas and those who do not.

Koziol's book offers some fine observations such as those discussing the reason for the lack of the libri confraternitatum or libri memoriales in Western Francia (see, for example, pp. 270, 332) and the role of the placita (see esp. pp. 340-43,347).To settle disputes amicably,placita often served as performative acts (to use the author's concept). …

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