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Epitaph for an Era
Politics and Rhetoric in the Carolingian World


  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107014312

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • Wala, abbot of Corbie, played a major role in the rebellions against Emperor Louis the Pious, especially in 830, for which he was exiled. Radbert defended his beloved abbot, known to his monks as Arsenius, against accusations of infidelity in an 'epitaph' (funeral oration), composed as a two-book conversation between himself and other monks of Corbie. Whereas the restrained first book of Radbert's Epitaphium Arsenii was written not long after Wala's death in 836, the polemical second book was added some twenty years later. This outspoken sequel covers the early 830s, yet it mostly addresses the political issues of the 850s, as well as Radbert's personal predicament. In Epitaph for an Era, an absorbing study of this fascinating text, Mayke de Jong examines the context of the Epitaphium's two books, the use of hindsight as a rhetorical strategy, and the articulation of notions of the public good in the mid-ninth century.

    • Challenges the divide between political and literary history
    • Offers an in-depth analysis of the literary representations of the text as well as the political consequences, to appeal across disciplines
    • Explains complex issues such as rhetorical theory and Latin political vocabulary in a way that is accessible to historians and non-specialists alike
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A lively and compelling interpretation of the tumultuous central decades of the ninth century from the vantage point of a single text, the Epitaphium Arsenii, and through the eyes of its fascinating but neglected author, Paschasius Radbertus.' Thomas F. X. Noble, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

    'Paschasius Radbertus, one of the most learned figures of the ninth century, applied all of his skills as biblical exegete, rhetorician and political insider to rehabilitate not only the shifting political career of Charlemagne's cousin and his own abbot patron Wala, but his own as well. The resulting text, his Epitaphium Arsenii, was so carefully crafted and directed towards such a small and elite audience at the centre of the Carolingian world that only a scholar as gifted as Mayke de Jong could possibly penetrate the multiple layers of this extraordinary text. Her Epitaph for an Era brilliantly illuminates not only Radbertus's dialogue, but the turbulent reign of Louis the Pious and the dissolution of the Carolingian empire.' Patrick J. Geary, Institute for Advanced Study, New Jersey

    'Mayke de Jong's book combines readability with profound learning. She proffers an insider's feel for what until recently were understudied fields. Ranging 'between the cloister and court', she probes deep into the cultures of both. As classical rhetoric jostles with dialogues, the past arcane becomes today's relevant.' Janet L. Nelson, King's College London

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107014312
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 1 map 4 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. History:
    2. Interconnected lives
    3. Between the cloister and the court
    Part II. Rhetoric:
    4. Lament and dialogue
    5. Strategies of persuasion
    6. What's in a name?
    Part III. Politics:
    7. Radbert and the rebellions
    8. For God, King and country
    9. The world they had lost

  • Author

    Mayke de Jong, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Mayke de Jong taught Medieval History at the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands from 1987 until her retirement in 2016. She has been a Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge, and a Member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. Since 1999, she has been a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Publishing widely on the interface between religion and politics in the early Middle Ages, her works include In Samuel's Image (1995), Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages, edited with Frans Theuws and Carine van Rhijn (2001) and The Penitential State (Cambridge, 2009).

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