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Making Early Medieval Societies
Conflict and Belonging in the Latin West, 300–1200

$25.00 USD

Conrad Leyser, Kate Cooper, David Natal, Jamie Wood, Helmut Reimitz, Martin J. Ryan, Paul Fouracre, Marios Costambeys, Riccardo Bof, R. I. Moore, Stephen D. White
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  • Date Published: January 2016
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316485217

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About the Authors
  • Making Early Medieval Societies explores a fundamental question: what held the small- and large-scale communities of the late Roman and early medieval West together, at a time when the world seemed to be falling apart? Historians and anthropologists have traditionally asked parallel questions about the rise and fall of empires and how societies create a sense of belonging and social order in the absence of strong governmental institutions. This book draws on classic and more recent anthropologists' work to consider dispute settlement and conflict management during and after the end of the Roman Empire. Contributions range across the internecine rivalries of late Roman bishops, the marital disputes of warrior kings, and the tension between religious leaders and the unruly crowds in western Europe after the first millennium - all considering the mechanisms through which conflict could be harnessed as a force for social stability or an engine for social change.

    • Illustrates the power of conflict to create social order, rather than the traditional model of the State
    • Spans nine centuries from the Fall of Rome to the ascent of Latin Europe
    • Explores the key developments of early medieval history in the light of social anthropology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this groundbreaking collection, the social impact of 'constructive feuding' is analysed in terms of how its potential destructive impact in practice was limited by customary rules. Cooper, Leyser and their colleagues have form in challenging accepted understandings of the past through the redrawing of disciplinary boundaries and this exciting volume poses fresh questions with some unexpected answers.' Jill Harries, University of St Andrews

    'This valuable collection brings together essays of established and rising scholars who reflect on cohesion and power from late antiquity to the twelfth century. As a whole, these essays accomplish the twin objectives of engaging with recent approaches to the history of power and its representation in the early Middle Ages and at the same time suggesting new ways of understanding power as forms of social and cultural practices rather than in the terms of the long and largely fruitless debate about state vs non-state political orders.' Patrick Geary, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

    'This is a very valuable book, making a significant contribution to the rich literature on social cohesion and conflict in early medieval Europe. Leading historians take a pleasing variety of approaches both to specific texts and to general questions. The essays will be stimulating reading for all interested in the period and in the engagement of history with anthropology.' John Hudson, University of St Andrews

    'Innovative and thought-provoking. … Deftly interweaving disparate methods, time-periods, and regions, the monograph produces a fresh vision of a millennium of Western European history.' Michael E. Stewart, Journal of Social History

    'Much important food for thought in this book, which will repay careful reading (and re-reading).' Levi Roach, The English Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2016
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316485217
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: making early medieval societies Conrad Leyser
    1. Property, power, and conflict: rethinking the Constantinian revolution Kate Cooper
    2. Playing with fire: conflicting bishops in late Roman Spain and Gaul David Natal and Jamie Wood
    3. After Rome, before Francia: religion, ethnicity, and identity politics in Gregory of Tours' Ten Books of Histories Helmut Reimitz
    4. 'To mistake gold for wealth': the Venerable Bede and the fate of Northumbria Martin J. Ryan
    5. The incidence of rebellion in the early medieval West Paul Fouracre
    6. Disputes and documents in early medieval Italy Marios Costambeys
    7. Divorce and remarriage between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages: canon law and conflict resolution Riccardo Bof and Conrad Leyser
    8. The memory of Gregory the Great and the making of Latin Europe, 600–1000 Conrad Leyser
    9. The weight of opinion: religion and the people of Europe from the tenth to the twelfth century R. I. Moore
    10. 'The peace in the feud' revisited: feuds in the peace in medieval European feuds Stephen D. White

  • Editors

    Kate Cooper, University of Manchester
    Kate Cooper is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester. She writes and teaches about the world of the Mediterranean in the late Roman period, working to understand the 'identity politics' of the Roman provinces with a special interest in daily life and the family, religion, and gender. Her most recent book is Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (2013); other publications include The Fall of the Roman Household (Cambridge, 2007), and a collection of essays, edited with Julia Hillner, Religion, Dynasty and Patronage in Early Christian Rome (Cambridge, 2007). In recent years, Kate has renewed a long-standing interest in the problem of religion and violence, holding a RCUK Global Uncertainties: Ideas and Beliefs Fellowship (2009–12) and a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2012–15) for a project on 'The Early Christian Martyr Acts: A New Approach to Ancient Heroes of Resistance'. Kate regularly contributes to broadcast media on the history of gender, sexuality, and religious identity, as well as writing for print and online publications such as The Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Her personal website has readers in 124 countries and can be found at

    Conrad Leyser, University of Oxford
    Conrad Leyser is Fellow and Tutor in History at Worcester College, Oxford. Previously, he was Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Manchester. His work centres on late Roman and early medieval traditions of moral authority, with a particular interest in questions of rhetoric, gender and law. He is the author of Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great (2000). Other publications include Motherhood, Religion, and Society in Medieval Europe, 400–1400 (co-edited with Lesley Smith, 2011). His current project is The Age of Faith: The Story of the Medieval Church, 200–1200, a study of the clerical caste from the third to the eleventh centuries in the Latin West. He organised the international colloquium 'Peace in the Feud: History and Anthropology, 1955–2005', held at Manchester in 2005, out of which this book has developed. Conrad reviews for the Times Literary Supplement, and he has appeared twice as lead contributor to Radio 4's 'Long View'.


    Conrad Leyser, Kate Cooper, David Natal, Jamie Wood, Helmut Reimitz, Martin J. Ryan, Paul Fouracre, Marios Costambeys, Riccardo Bof, R. I. Moore, Stephen D. White

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