Although the topic of humourhas been dealt with forothereras, early medieval humour remains largely neglected. The essays collected here go some way towards filling the gap, examining how the writers of early medieval sources deliberately employed humour to make theircase.
The essays range from the late Roman Empire through to the tenth century, and from Byzantium to Anglo-Saxon England. The subject matteris diverse, but a numberof themes link them together, notably the use of irony, ridicule and satire as politicaltools. Two chapters serve as an extended introduction to the topic, while the following six chapters offer varied treatments of the themes of humour and politics, looking at different times and places, but at the Carolingian world in particular. Together, they raise important and original issues about the ways in which humour was employed to articulate concepts of political power, perceptions of kingship, social relations and the role of particular texts.
GUY HALSALL is Senior Lecturerin History, Birkbeck College, University of London. His publications include Settlement and Social Organization: The Merovingian Region of Metz (Cambridge, 1995).