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The Penitential State
Authority and Atonement in the Age of Louis the Pious, 814–840

$113.00 (C)

  • Date Published: April 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521881524

$ 113.00 (C)
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  • In 833 emperor Louis the Pious, Charlemagne's son, submitted to a public penance in the wake of a rebellion by his three elder sons. This penance amounted to a deposition, for Louis was to atone for his sins for the rest of his life. However, only half a year later, he was back on the throne again. In this evaluation of Louis' reign, Mayke de Jong argues that his penance was the outcome of a political discourse and practice in which the accountability of the Frankish ruler to God played an increasingly central role. However heated their debates, this was a moral high ground Louis shared with churchmen and secular magnates. Through a profound re-reading of texts by contemporary authors who reflected on legitimate authority in times of crisis, this book reveals a world in which political crime was defined as sin, and royal authority was enhanced by atonement.

    • Sheds light on a phase of Western history when religion and politics were largely overlapping spheres
    • A book with significant methodological implications for how we approach medieval history
    • Will appeal to scholars of Carolingian and early medieval history and medieval studies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Highly recommended." -Choice

    "a profound explication of Carolingian political ideals and practices as they unfolded primarily between 822 and 840...[de Jong] has blended the delight in evoking historical contingency with her trademark command of Carolingian (religious) culture...Although this incisive book was penned with specialists in mind...it has much broader implications." - Hans Hummer, Speculum

    ‘… a profound explication of Carolingian political ideals and practices as they unfolded primarily between 822 and 840 … [de Jong] has blended the delight in evoking historical contingency with her trademark command of Carolingian (religious) culture … Although this incisive book was penned with specialists in mind … it has much broader implications.’ Hans Hummer, Speculum

    ‘[De Jong] forces readers to reconsider not only Louis's supposed weakness but also the putative villainy, weakly disguised as piety, of those who challenged him. De Jong achieves all of this in a book fully suitable for undergraduates. Summing up: highly recommended.’ C. J. Chandler, Choice

    ‘meticulously researched…important and thoughtful…De Jong opens with a long chapter that stands as the best account of Louis’s reign now available…Her deep understanding of this culture superbly contextualizes the discordant and anguished voices of 833.’ John J. Contreni, American Historical Review

    ‘an important and subtle examination of the reign [of Louis the Pious] … a deft and original evocation of this world of open criticism…any reassessment [of his reign] will have to be worked out within the new interpretive framework for the sources staked out in De Jong’s outstanding book.’ Simon MacLean, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

    ‘an extremely sensitive analysis of the great wealth of narrative and other sources…This is, in other words, a book at the heart of an unfolding historiographical movement, much of it inspired in part or whole by de Jong’s earlier path-breaking work in the field. It is clearly, too, a study which will greatly influence the development of that field… One finishes this accessible and enlightening book wanting more’ C.M.A. West, English Historical Review

    ‘fascinating…What de Jong does best is to introduce readers into the world of her authors and their audiences… Throughout, de Jong makes her case by means of close, often line-by-line readings of her texts…a stimulating book to read, especially for graduate students’ Kevin Uhalde, The Medieval Review

    "Both in the new avenues which it renders accessible and the clarity of the approach taken towards rhetoric, ritual and practice, de Jong’s study deserves to be influential and widely read. A truly considered statement, her book is both the essential guide to Louis’s troubles and a model exploration of early medieval ritual and political culture." -David Pratt, Early Medieval Europe

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521881524
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the penitential state
    1. Louis the Pious (778–840)
    2. Ninth-century narratives
    3. Admonitio, correptio, increpatio
    4. The wages of sin (828–829)
    5. Purity and danger (830–831)
    6. Scandal and satisfaction (832–834)
    Epilogue: the penitential state after Louis the Pious.

  • Author

    Mayke de Jong, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands

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