Monthly Archives: January 2013

Seminars CXXXV & CXXXVI: characterising some medieval disputants

The need to catch up on the seminar reports is still fairly urgent, so I must do my now-usual filtering of what is in the pile. Out, with reluctance because it was good but with reassurance because as so often Magistra has already covered it, goes the second Clerical Cosmos conference in Oxford, but do go have a look at Magistra’s reports if the subtitle, “Ecclesiastical power, culture and society, c. 900 to c. 1075″, sounds like it should hit your interests. That at last takes me into the Easter term of 2013, and that term was greeted in Oxford by a paper by Mark Whittow to the Medieval History Seminar on the 23rd April entitled, “Territorial Lordship and Regional Power in the Age of Gregorian Reform: Matilda of Canossa and the Matildine lands”.

Countess Matilda of Canossa, enthroned with attendants, manuscript portrait from the Vita Mathildis by Donizone

Countess Matilda of Canossa, enthroned with attendants, manuscript portrait from the Vita Mathildis by Donizone (who may be the cleric at her right)

This paper did the audience the good service of recapitulating Matilda’s career, something it’s quite hard to get in one place from literature outside Italy despite its importance in the politics of Germany and Italy (and especially both) in the time of the eleventh-century dispute of Holy Roman Empire and Papacy, and assessing her landed holdings.1 Out of this came several observations, one being that little enough of her focus was actually in her marquisate of Tuscany, where competition for power was perhaps not one-sided enough, and another being that while she is often represented as a champion of public office because she held one, her armies were formed of vassals based in castles even if the emperor had approved the grant of the castles. In other words, she was pretty much as feudo-vassalitic in operation as the Dukes of Aquitaine, even if she was more closely involved with a persistent and intermittently-powerful royalty than they were. Nonetheless, there was a difference in the discourse of power Matilda used, with artwork and manuscripts presenting her as imperially-descended and legitimate and traditional in a way the Meridional princes wouldn’t have used unless they went for Roman roots, as Christian Lauranson-Rosaz would argue they did in the Auvergne.2 That, at least, would have worked to undermine the claims of a royalty that drew its ancestry back to fairly recent, and certainly post-Roman, times, but Matilda was competing for the same grounds of legitimacy as her German royal opponents (and sometimes allies). So this was all very interesting and fitted Matilda into a different framework than the one where English-language historians usually meet her, but the thing that sticks with me is something that I had to raise in questions, that the pictures we have of her do, yes, twice show her on a throne, but they also consistently show her dwarfed by it, compared to her noble antecessors shown on the same throne in the same manuscript. The author of that manuscript knew the lady personally; it was hard not to conclude that the artist did too, and what he or she knew was that their patron was pretty small.3 This obviously didn’t make her any the less considerable, if so!

15th-century manuscript depiction of the Court of Common Pleas, London

15th-century manuscript depiction of the Court of Common Pleas, London

Then the very next day the Medieval Church and Culture Seminar was lucky enough, as we were told at fulsome length, to be host to Professor Paul Hyams, who spoke with the title, “Disputes and How to Avoid Them: charters and custom in England during the long 12th century”.4 This appealed to me, predictably perhaps, as it was a paper about what the charters aren’t telling us, the trouble that a dispute settlement charter averts or that preceded its issue but which its scribe thought it impolitic to recount, at least from more than one side. It dealt with the invisible threshold of wealth beyond which written records were even available, specifically, and whether we can see serfdom in medieval England as early as it may start. I wouldn’t like to say that it concluded that we could, but the plea to consider what else was going on around the documents we have – the meetings, to and fro voyages of negotiation, the feast and the talk at dinner when a transaction was concluded, all of which probably explain a lot more about how a given transaction unfolded than does its surviving record – is a plea always worth hearing, especially when loaded with this many interesting examples.

1. The core text here is a Vita Mathildis by one Donizone of Canossa, whence we get the charming picture, the text most recently edited and translated (into Italian; I’m fairly sure there’s no English translation) by Paolo Golinelli as Vita di Matilde di Canossa (Milano 2008); the secondary work that Mark cited included Golinelli (ed.), I poteri dei Canossa da Reggio Emilia all’Europa. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi (Reggio Emilia – Carpineti, 29-31 ottobre 1992) (Bologna 1994), especially Guiseppe Sergi’s “I poteri di Canossa: poteri delegati, poteri feudali, poteri signorili”, pp. 29-39, and Sergi, I confini del potere: Marche e signorie fra due regni medievali (Torino 1995); on the dispute between empire and papacy in which Matilda became so involved, I like Ute-Renate Blumenthal’s The Investiture Controversy: Church and monarchy from the ninth to the twelfth century (Philadelphia 1988).

2. For example, C. Lauranson-Rosaz, “La romanité du midi de l’an mil (le point sur les sociétés méridionales)” in Robert Delort (ed.), La France de l’An Mil, Points-Histoires H130 (Paris 1990), pp. 49-74, rev. as “La romanité du midi de l’an mil : le point sur les sociétés méridionales” in Xavier Barral i Altet, Dominique Iogna-Prat, Anscari Mundó, Josep María Salrach & Michel Zimmermann (edd.), Catalunya i França Meridional a l’Entorn de l’Any Mil: la Catalogne et la France méridionale autour de l’an mil. Colloque International D. N. R. S.[sic]/Generalitat de Catalunya « Hugues Capet 987-1987. La France de l’An Mil », Barcelona 2 — 5 juliol 1987, Actes de Congresos 2 (Barcelona 1991), pp. 45-58.

3. The manuscript is Vatican City, Biblioteca vaticana, MS 4922, and is edited in facsimile as Donizone di Canossa, La vita di Matilde di Canossa: Codice Vaticano latino 4922, ed. Golinelli, Codices e Vaticanis selecti 62 (Milano 1984). A few more bits of it are online here.

4. This was work deriving from a project to follow up P. Hyams, Rancor and reconciliation in medieval England (Ithaca 2003), and I guess we can expect it to start some disputes as well as settle some…

The journey from castle to kingdom in early Asturias

Wall exposed by the 2012 excavations at the castle of Gauzón, Castrillón, Asturias.

Wall exposed by the 2012 excavations at the castle of Gauzón, Castrillón, Asturias.

Here is another thing that I’ve been meaning to write about for ages. Back in March, as you may well remember, I wrote a review of James Fraser’s From Caledonia to Pictland. A few days later, with admirable and self-confessed disregard of that subject, esteemed commentator Mouguias notified us there of one of a small avalanche of web news stories based on a press release from the excavation of the castle of Gauzón at Castrillón in Asturias. One can tell a press release was involved as almost all the versions of this story a quick play with a FWSE reveals have the same final paragraph, and the big news of that press release appears to be that the excavators, as of April 2012, had found structures that they could clearly date to the reign of King Alfonso III, who was cunning enough to maintain a suite of chroniclers at his court and is thus known as the father of the Spanish Reconquista.1 He may well have a right to this title, though the extent of his actual reconquests have been minimised in recent literature; it’s just that if anyone else did too, we’d be very unlikely to know.2 Anyway, Gauzón looks to be part of that story, not least because a splendid thing called the Cruz de la Victoria that Alfonso had made apparently proclaims in its inscriptions that some of its jewels were worked at Gauzón, and it’s all quite exciting; there’s even some publication, which I will have to follow up as it is, as they say, Relevant To My Interests.3 This is not, however, what had caught Mouguias’s attention. His relevant words are:

Apparently it can be proven now that the kingdom of Asturias sort of existed back in the VII century, even before the Arab invasion.

We might justifiably lay some stress on the word “apparently” there, but it’s based in the second linked story, which says:

El trabajo de los arqueólogos ha permitido arrojar luz sobre una remota época envuelta en las tinieblas de la historia. Las pruebas ya realizadas con el Carbono 14 han constatado que ya en el siglo VII, es decir, antes de la Batalla de Covadonga (722), en lo alto del Peñón de Raíces se levantaba una fortificación defensiva, una atalaya que además de controlar la navegación costera, representaba un símbolo de poder.

«En él se emplearon los mejores medios disponibles en la época, las mejores técnicas constructivas y lo mejores materiales, lo que significa que además de su función militar, el rey quería hacer ostentación de la categoría económica, social y política que había alcanzado el Reino de Asturias, que no tenía nada que envidiar a otros», manifiesta Iván Muñíz.

My Castilian’s not my best language, but I reckon something like:

The work of the archæologists has been able to shed light on a remote epoch enveloped in the shadows of history. The tests already done with Carbon-14 have shown that in the seventh century, that is, before the Battle of Covadonga (722), there was a defensive fortification put up atop the Peñón de Raíces, a watchtower that, as well as controlling coastal traffic, represented a symbol of power. “They used the best means available at the time in it, the best construction techniques and the best materials, which means that as well as its military function, the king wanted it to make a show of the economic, social and political category that the Kingdom of Asturias had attained, which had nothing to envy elsewhere,” Ivan Muñíz explains.

is a fair rendition of that. A bit of further web excavation reveals that this evidence came to light in the 2007 season, and it seems to have been charcoal that they dated. All the same, as I already said in reply to Mouguias’s comments, the basic stumbling block I find is that castles do not necessarily a kingdom make. It wasn’t so long ago that I was writing here about 1970s work that wanted us to see an independent lord of a clan in every mountain valley in this area going back into the Iberian Celtic past or further, and while that’s overstated, there is a step missing before we follow this logic all the way and say, Asturias already existed as a separate thing in the seventh century. Why can’t this just be some sea-lord’s holdout?

The castle rock of Gauzón

The castle rock of Gauzón: a fairly impressive site in its local context…

Not yet having read the print publications, I can only guess here, and I suppose that the argument is either the one implied by the quote there, that the work is just so high-standard that it must be royal, or else a version of the argument by which Leslie Alcock, beatae memoriae, identified South Cadbury with a putative Camelot: to man such a fortress implies the ability to raise considerable manpower and a military, therefore probably singular, leadership, we may as well call such an authority a king.4 Now, the former of these is subjective, obviously, and the latter doesn’t really dispose of the sea-lord idea, especially as Gauzón seems to be rather smaller than South Cadbury.5 But the problems with the whole idea seem to me to be twofold. Firstly, if it really is a high-status late-seventh-century structure in origin, one’s got to at least consider the possibility that the Visigothic kings of Spain were involved. Asturias has something of a narrative going, dating back to Barbero and Vigil already mentioned if not further, that the Visigothic kings never controlled it, and the archaeological jury is probably going to be out on that for a long time (as the texts are, inevitably, court-centred and so “would say that wouldn’t they?”).6 It’s political. Nonetheless, if what one is arguing is that there’s unprecedented evidence of royal-standard power in Asturias before the raising of the independent kingdom by Pelayo that’s usually dated to 718, this site and the early building here could serve either side of that argument.

Secondly, there’s a question of scale. This is, recent work is making very clear, a land of forts and strongholds.7 Is Gauzón different? How far did the controller of this one reach? Pelayo’s kingdom was before long centred at Oviedo; the chronicles of Alfonso III’s reign suggest that the Muslim seat of government in the province had been at Gijón. These are roughly 40 km and 35 km from Gauzón, respectively. It wouldn’t have to be a very big province to include all three centres, but there is therefore so little space between them that one would want to ask whether such plurality of centres shouldn’t in fact make us think of plurality of powers. I suppose that what one would really need to make the case is other castles that belong to the same building programme being identified by recurrence of these high-quality materials and techniques at another site. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell a situation where we have many independent castle lordships, as the area seems to have boasted in the fifth century at least, apart from one where those castles are all under a single authority. Of course, Alfonso III is there to tell us that the latter did, at some point, arise, and the excavators are probably right that Gauzón has a lot to tell us about how things moved from the former to the latter situation. Somehow Alfonso wound up in charge of this place, and if it wasn’t him some forebear of his was probably to blame. Barbero and Vigil would have seen here a local chief being bought or bullied into a wider political network, I might see a castellan losing his autonomy in exchange for access to court patronage. The excavators seem to think this place has the potential to be a type case of this transition, and that’s going to be interesting whether or not they’re right. But all the same: I don’t think we can found a seventh-century proto-kingdom on one charcoal layer, can we?

1. The chronicles are edited, and provided with suitably impressed historical context, in Juan Gil Fernández (ed.), José Luis Moralejo (transl.) & José Ignacio Ruiz de la Peña, Crónicas Asturianas: Crónica de Alfonso III (Rotense y «A Sebastián»), Crónica Albeldense y «Profética» (Oviedo 1985). There are three other editions of almost the same date with translations into French and Spanish, but this is the one with the supporting essays. The only English translation is a slightly tricky one by Kenneth Baxter Wolf of a synchronised version of the two texts of the Chronicle of Alfonso III in his Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain, Translated Texts for Historians 5 (Liverpool 1990). I should probably write a post at some point about why I don’t think that version is enough…

2. Peter Linehan, History and Historians of Medieval Spain (Oxford 1993), pp. 95-127; Amancio Isla, “Monarchy and Neogothicism in the Astur Kingdom, 711-910” in Francia Vol. 26 (Sigmaringen 1999), pp. 41-56.

3. On the Cross, you can see Achim Arbeiter and Sabine Noack-Hailey, “The Kingdom of the Asturias” in K. Howard, A. M. Lucke & John P. O’Neill (edd.), The Art of Medieval Spain A. D. 500-1200 (New York 1993), pp. 113-119, where there is a rather snazzy illustration of this rather stunning object (see also here). The publication of Gauzón includes, most recently that I can find, Iván Muñiz López & Alejandro García Álvarez-Busto, “El castillo de Gauzón (Castrillón, Asturias), Campañas de 2007-2009: El proceso de Feudalización entre la Antigüedad Tardía y la Edad Media a través de una fortaleza” in Territorio, sociedad y poder: revista de estudios medievales Vol. 5 (Oviedo 2010), pp. 81-121, which means that we can all read it as it’s online here, with a lengthy English (or at least, auto-translated) summary! The latest news appears to be even more recent than that, however, with finds of wood from the palace buildings that they hope to carbon-date, so more could be coming soon. (Why not dendrochronological dating, I wonder? A mischievous part of me wonders if a precise year that wasn’t in the reign of Alfonso III would upset people, but maybe the sample just isn’t good enough…)

4. Leslie Alcock, Arthur’s Britain: history and archaeology AD 367-634 (London 1971, repr. Harmondsworth 1973, 2nd edn. 1989), pp. 221-226 & 347-349; cf. Alcock, Kings & Warriors, Craftsmen & Priests in Northern Britain AD 550-850, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monographs (Edinburgh 2003), p. 5.

5. See L. Alcock, S. J. Stevenson & C. R. Musson, Cadbury Castle, Somerset: The Early Medieval Archaeology (Cardiff 1995).

6. A. Barbero & M. Vigil, “Sobre los orígenes sociales de la Reconquista: cantábros y vascones desde fines del impero romano hasta la invasión musulmana” in Boletín de le Real Academia de Historia Vol. 156 (Madrid 1965), pp. 271-339; eidem, Sobre los orígenes sociales de la Reconquista, Ariel quincenal 91 (Barcelona 1974, repr. 1979 & 1984).

7. Margarita Fernández Mier, “Changing Scales of Local Power in the Early Medieval Iberian North-West”, transl. Carolina Carl in J. Escalona & Andrew Reynolds (edd.), Scale and Scale Change in the Early Middle Ages: exploring landscape, local society, and the world beyond, The Medieval Countryside 6 (Turnhout 2011), pp. 87-117.

Seminars CXXXIII & CXXXIV: more early medieval edges

Aha! At last I have the information I needed, and so this post that was meant to be ready a fortnight ago can go up. In the words of a man in a dressing gown, “I seem to be having tremendous trouble with my lifestyle”… The last term was the busiest I’ve had, the teaching not the heaviest but it’s been fighting for space with an attempt at a social life and a long long list of job applications, for lo, I am running out of time and many people are hiring. More on that as and when it becomes public, but the main effect has been that I have hardly been at home with a few hours to spare for what feels like weeks, and since this is a necessary condition for getting blog written, you haven’t been seeing much of me. However, the other night I had a dream about taking part in some research seminar with half the In the Medieval Middle crowd, in which we lost five minutes to Jeffrey Cohen and Karl Steel agonising over whether they could still use the word `object’ without defining their terms first, so I suppose that this is some kind of warning from the subconscious about blog blockage and therefore the other day I took advantage of having an hour or so in London before a seminar during which the British Library was unable to serve up their wi-fi Internet registration page for me to register on to write the first half of this post. And I’m glad to be posting it at last as not only is this incredibly late but it also deals with the work of some very interesting people.

Morn Capper and others at work on the Birmingham Museum display of the Staffordshire Hoard

The first time I met the woman on the left, you know, Alice Rio and I wound up agreeing to support her candidacy as pope. True story…

First of these is none other than your humble correspondent’s excellent friend and sympathiser, Dr Morn Capper, now of the University of Leicester but at the time of which I write here of the British Museum and Birmingham Museum. There, indeed, she had been working on an exhibition until very close to the point at which she came to the Institute of Historical Research on 21st March 2012 to address the Earlier Middle Ages Seminar there with a paper called, “Rethinking Thought and Action Under the Mercian Hegemony: responses to Mercian supremacy, 650-850”. Fans of the history of the kingdom of Offa and his dubiously-related pre- and postdecessors will notice that that’s quite a long span of Anglo-Saxon history and the amount Morn tries to fit into her picture is also extremely widely-spread; hers is a holistic take on Anglo-Saxon history for which all sorts of evidence are relevant and have to be understood together. For me, who had heard Morn on some of these subjects before, therefore, this was a chance to get something like a uniting thread joining up the many many conversations we’ve had about particular sites or phenomena, but for others it may have been less immediately clear why all the things Morn was addressing were part of the same question. That question was, more or less, how did the Mercian kings make their rule stick in areas that weren’t Mercia, but since the answer to that could quite properly involve violence and public execution, town planning, East Anglian pottery, regional deployment of royal titles,1 religious patronage, saltpans, post-facto dynastic pacts expressed in genealogies and burial sites, individual negotiations with regional potentates and national manipulation of Church and coinage, all of which were in here somewhere except the saltpans, it’s easy enough to see how it could get busy.2 I think that the real clue to the import of this seminar was the extremely busy discussion afterwards, on which I have nearly as many notes as I do on most presentations, and in which Morn made it clear to all that she could have included a lot more, especially on the archæology; there was a lengthy conversation about marking border crossings with execution cemeteries, for example, which is one way of sending a message: “You are now entering Mercia. BE CAREFUL.” When her thesis can be reduced and streamlined into a book, it won’t just be me thinking I need to read it, I reckon.3

A silver penny of King Offa

As has been remarked before, this was a man whose hairstyles should obviously explained by direct control of the coinage, for amusement value if no more

Now it must be pointed out that the redoutable Magistra also wrote a post on this paper, much closer to the time and with a far better title, and it does an excellent job of codifying the separate parts of the argument. Rather than try and do my own summary, therefore, it seems best to me to mention a few of the stand-out points, such as:

  • that assessing Mercia as a political power is all the more tricky because we never see it static, in our evidence it is always expanding or collapsing so the way it actually worked (or failed to) doesn’t stay the same;
  • that Æthebald of Mercia starts appearing with titles referring to Britain at more or less the same time as the Archbishop of Canterbury stops doing so, and that the latter may be the one that impinged on scribes’ minds more;
  • that Guthlac’s monastery at Crowland was well-positioned to knit together Mercian, Middle Anglian and East Anglian sympathies in the surrounding communities on the Wash and that Æthelbald’s various visits there should probably be seen in this light, that of an appropriate way to approach the élites of these areas, much as respectful treatment of the royal mausoleum at Repton appears to have been such a way in Mercia itself to express consciousness of previous interests;
  • that, of course, the regions all had their own interests in cooperating with Mercian power which had to be taken into account before the kings could carry out any overall royal policy;
  • and that among these must be considered the kings of Essex, who survived as a lineage at least into the ninth century and perhaps even the Viking era, and who were never entirely removed from their seats of power, at least once having conceded Middlesex and London entirely to Mercian interests.

You will see from this, if combined with Magistra’s write-up which gives you much more of a structure, that if there was a problem with this paper it was to work out whether the main thread or the asides were more important. Having all this stuff thrown into the mix thus gives us some idea of the incredibly complex set of concerns, not just material and political but also symbolic and even ritual, that we seem now to expect early medieval kings to have tried to manage, and done like this it seems like an awful lot; theories like that of Jennifer Davis about Charlemagne, that his reign was so full that it can hardly have been more than a continual reaction to emergent crises, seem more plausible.4 In Morn’s thinking, I think, the Mercian kings were in their various ways trying to make something new and more controlled out of their situations, but the first thing we need to understand, if we’re to understand why their success was so variable and why it has sustained so much scholarship of different views, apart from the simple fact that the sources are few and unclear, is that what they were trying to cope with really wasn’t simple at all.

The memorial column of Khan Omurtag in the Church of 40 Martyrs at Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

The memorial column of Khan Omurtag in the Church of 40 Martyrs at Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Then, the next week in the same building (sadly no longer always guaranteed at the IHR seminars), the 28th March, we had the unusual chance to hear Professor Florin Curta of the University of Florida giving a paper called, “In Line with Omurtag and Alfred: linear frontiers in the ninth century”. This was, in some ways, one of those papers that shouldn’t be necessary but has become so because of trapdooring, as one of the many many things that sensible reputable scholars who just haven’t looked far enough back have argued were only first created in the eleventh or twelfth century, along with the individual, windmills, universities and professional guilds to name but a few, is the linear frontier. Before that, it has seriously been argued, frontiers were zones, because cartography and state apparatuses weren’t yet developed enough to do more, and hadn’t been since Roman times.5 Here, Florin took two examples where this is patently and clearly untrue, from the ninth century: firstly, a frontier set between the Bulgar Khanate and the Byzantine Empire in 816, which he convincingly argued on the basis of the treaty terms must have been forced on the Bulgars by the Byzantines despite recent military trends in the other direction, seeing for example no sense in victorious Bulgars restricting their own trade with the Empire; and the so-called Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum in which King Alfred the Great selflessly agreed a line of jurisdiction between him and the most willing of the Viking leaders who’d fought him in 878 and lost that came nowhere near Alfred’s own kingdom.6 I don’t mean to say that Alfred only got ‘great’ by bargaining away other peoples’ territory, but it certainly helped. Anyway, the precise political details are not the point so much as that when they needed to, all of these leaders could very easily set a line between two territories that needed rules governing who could cross it, why and in what conditions, all of which implies some ability to say when it had been crossed, what in turn requires it to be definable. In the Bulgarian case, too, parts of it have been dug, the most significant portion apparently being the Evkescia Dyke (say my notes, but Google seems convinced no such thing exists, I must have spelt it wrong), so there’s not really a problem here showing that early medieval rulers could set lines when they wanted to, and there’s no wider conceptual problem with this idea really sustainable either because, after all, we have a lot of documents that set land boundaries, they’re called charters…7

Tenth-century manuscript depiction of Bulgars slaughtering Byzantine 'martyrs'

Tenth-century manuscript depiction of Bulgars slaughtering Byzantine ‘martyrs’, in the Menologion of Emperor Basil II, Vatican MS Gr. 1613, here obtained from Wikimedia Commons

This paper, and the reminder that Florin is the editor of the most recent in a very long series of volumes in which medievalists get together and compare their frontiers with people from inside and outside the field, in fact set me off on some powerful reflecting on such questions, as it seems to me that, as I subsequently put it in a status update on, there is no theory on frontiers that the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem doesn’t break. Certainly we need a lot more work, and possibly to stop borrowing other people’s theories intended one way or another to reflect on different aspects of the USA and to start coming up with our own, before medieval frontiers can really be talked about as if we understand, rather than assume, how they worked.8 Not all of them were lines, this is basically self-evident to anyone who’s looked at any marcher zone ever, and that there could be gaps between rival jurisdictions oughtn’t to surprise us either. But to say that early medieval people just couldn’t set and keep marked and working a line on the ground when it suited them is something we can hopefully see an end to thanks to this kind of demonstration.

1. On which before too long you will be able to see Morn D. T. Capper, “Titles and Troubles: conceptions of royal authority in eighth- and ninth-century Mercian charters” in Jonathan Jarrett & Allan Scott McKinley (edd.), Problems and Possibilities of Early Medieval Charters, International Medieval Research 19 (Turnhout forthcoming).

2. The saltpans is sort of the special idea of John Maddicott: see his “London and Droitwich, c. 650-750: trade, industry and the rise of Mercia” in Anglo-Saxon England Vol. 34 (Cambridge 2005), pp. 7-58.

3. Morn D. T. Capper, “Contested Loyalties: Regional and National Identities in the Midland Kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, c.700 – c.900″ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Sheffield, 2008). I’ve got to acknowledge Morn’s feedback on an early version of this post, as well, as otherwise I might have made some characteristic mistakes by trying to explain her work from months-old notes.

4. I think this particular point of view is still forthcoming – I heard it at the Kalamazoo paper described at the link – but some flavour of her take on the reign can be got from J. Davis, “A Pattern of Power: Charlemagne’s Delegation of Judicial Responsibilities” in eadem & Michel McCormick (edd.), The Long Morning of Medieval Europe: new directions in early medieval studies (Aldershot 2008), pp. 235-246, on which see here.

5. This historiography is described with more respect than perhaps it deserves in Nora Berend, “Medievalists and the notion of the frontier” in The Medieval History Journal Vol. 2 (Los Angeles 1999), pp. 55-72.

6. On the former one can see little else in English but F. Curta, Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250 (Cambridge 2006), pp. 154-159. On the latter, I like David N. Dumville, “The Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum” in his Wessex and England from Alfred to Edgar: six essays on political, ecclesiastical and cultural revival (Woodbridge 1992), pp. 1-27.

7. In England, at least, the person who has made this evidence most their own is indubitably Della Hooke, whose “Early medieval estate and settlement patterns: the documentary evidence” in Michael Aston, David Austin & Christopher Dyer (edd.), The Rural Settlements of Medieval England. Studies dedicated to Maurice Beresford and John Hurst (Oxford 1989), pp. 9-30 might be the best introduction to her methods.

8. I could list a lot of conference volumes on this theme but let’s pick just three, Daniel Power & Naomi Standen (edd.), Frontiers in Question: Eurasian borderlands 700-1700 (Basingstoke 1999), David Abulafia & Nora Berend (edd.), Medieval frontiers: concepts and practices (Aldershot 2002) and of course Florin Curta (ed.), Borders, barriers, and ethnogenesis: frontiers in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Turnhout 2005).