Carolingian things afoot in Cambridge

Reverse of a silver denier of Charlemagne struck at Dorestad now on display in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Reverse of a silver denier of Charlemagne struck at Dorestad now on display in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

May I just break the backlog-filling for a second to bring your attention to two things happening in Cambridge relating to no-one less than Charles the Great, King of the Franks, King of the Lombards, Patrician of the Romans and finally Holy Roman Emperor, already? You know the one. The first of these, because it’s already happening, though I’ve yet to see it, is an exhibition at my old place of work, the Fitzwilliam Museum, called Building an Empire: Money, trade and power in the age of Charlemagne. As you can see from that web-page, “A selection of the finest medieval coins from the Fitzwilliam Museum’s own collection (Frankish, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Byzantine and Islamic) will be on show to illustrate the complex political, economic and cultural ties of the period.” The Fitzwilliam has a really pretty good selection of such things, so it should be worth a look. Furthermore, if you were to go over the weekend of the 4th-6th July, you could combine it with this:

Cover of the programme of the conference "The Carolingian Frontier and its Neighbours", 4th-6th July 2014, Cambridge

Cover of the programme of the conference “The Carolingian Frontier and its Neighbours”, 4th-6th July 2014, Cambridge

“While recent scholarship has done much to illuminate early medieval frontiers, the relationship between the Carolingian frontier and its neighbouring societies has yet to be the focus of sustained, comparative discussion. This conference aims to initiate a dialogue between scholars of the Carolingian frontier and those of the societies it bordered, and in so doing to reach a better understanding of the nature and extent of contacts in frontier regions and the various manners in which these contacts – not to mention frontier regions themselves – were conceptualized. Moreover, it will explore the interplay between various types of contact – whether military, political, economic, social, or religious – and the various ways in which these contacts could underpin, or undermine, existing relationships, both between the local societies themselves and between political centres.”

So it says here. Now, this is obviously pretty close to my interests, and so it may not surprise you completely that I am in fact speaking at it, with the title, “‘Completely detached from the kingdom of the Franks’? Political identity in Catalonia in the very late Carolingian era”. But that’s very first thing on Saturday morning, I shan’t be offended if you miss it. Do, however, come for the other speakers, who include people not just from far abroad (Granada, Madrid, Lyon, Warsaw, Prague, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Berkeley) but also Oxford, would you believe, as well as a clutch of local stars, including the organisers, Fraser McNair, Ingrid Rembold and Sam Ottewill-Soulsby (and maybe others?), who are bright sparks all and keen to get the word out to people. I was convinced to come by, well, mainly my own certainty that I needed to be in on something like this but also because also presenting is Eduardo Manzano Moreno, whose fault my work partly is, and I want to hear what he has to say. But it all looks very good, and so if you’re interested, as the programme says, “Places are limited! Please return a completed registration form with payment early to avoid disappointment.”

Oh, and by the way, fittingly enough, this is post no. 800 on the blog. I did not do this deliberately…

24 responses to “Carolingian things afoot in Cambridge

  1. “but he is almost unique because we have his words recorded by the Roman writer Tacitus.” Ha: “recorded” is a bit rich.

    • If objections are to be mounted, that would indeed be a good place to start, but if that’s going on I hope it won’t be in the comments thread of a post about something entirely different. I’m going to reckon this one too early for me and leave it to people who know their Romans better than do I…

  2. Looks interesting! But I hope we’re still seeing you the following day in sunny Yorkshire?

  3. I really would have liked to hear your talk. Are you going to put it online in Academia soon or will it be published separately?
    I just realized you’re also reading Justícia i Poder a Catalunya abans de l’any mil. Will there be a post soon?

    • Good questions both! Since my paper isn’t yet written, I don’t know whether it will be worth publishing! It is an aspect or a version of something else I’ve been trying to publish for a decade or more, and it may be that this bit is the one that works. However, plans for publication is something that I know the organisers intend to discuss after the conference, so any conclusions about what I will do with it must wait till then anyway; if we can get these papers out together, they will be more powerful, I think…

      As to Justícia i poder (how worrying! You’re the first person ever to reference that bit of the sidebar…), I have a good few blog posts in draft from reading it already, yes, but they are in a queue of about, er, a hundred and twenty that I would ideally like to get posted first, only some of which are so far more than titles. I am reading it for review, however, a review that is already late (sorry!) and when that review goes online I will certainly publicise that immediately, and that will happen much sooner. I can only apologise for the blog’s peculiar state and try and work down the backlog!

  4. I’m looking forward for that review, then. I’m keen to hear your standpoint because I have the feeling that no in Catalonia read Bowmans Book and I really hoped to find a vivid discussion or at least some side reference in Justícia i Poder. Thank you (!) for your fast replies and input. It’s hard to maintain a Blog and not to get frustrated, I guess.

    • The blog is no problem, but I got frustrated with life for a while and stopped updating, and am still paying the price… I too was surprised by the lack of use of Bowman’s book (as well as resigned to appearing mis-spelt, if at all, myself, though for that I have actually had an unsought apology). The trouble is, given the acutely sparse referencing, one can’t tell if Salrach doesn’t know of it, or just thought he could do without…

  5. As he said, he’s tired of the discussions. But letting the sources speak for their own is not really helping to see the standpoint of the historian intepreting them. But I really find reading Salrach enjoyable, never getting stuck in too complicated sentences, speaking his mind.
    I guess life has it’s downfalls I had one myself last year and I’m happy to be out of it. Thanks for the link to Joan Vilaseca’s Blog. I was in Barcelona at that time and could have gone to the presentation but as always I read about it two days after. Damn.

  6. I saw a flyer for the Carolingian Frontier shindig and lamented that I can’t make the trip. I’ve just recently returned from a Carolingian-themed, three-week trip to Germany and France (and just superficially posted about it in my very delinquent blog), and I couldn’t quite justify to myself or others the need to go to the UK so soon after, especially with all the writing I need to do this summer. I do hope that said shindig goes swimmingly!

    • You will be missed in Cambridge! I’m sure your name will come up, not least because there will be several people there waiting keenly for news of your book! (No pressure…) But seriously: at least three people interested in Carolingian Catalonia in the same place, I’m not sure when that last happened even in Catalonia. Your trip looks like a splendid thing, too, almost no places I’ve been to my shame (and I had never stopped to think that Bacharach might be a place-name…). You have clearly done your students proud! And I’ve amended your blog title in my blogroll.

  7. Thanks! I’m trying to finish the @#$& thing this summer, but of course the three-week trip put a dent in the summer. I’m working on a bit more discussion of identity–what did it matter to be called Goth or Frank or whatever? And looking more at Aizo’s uprising is called for. I’ve read interesting things, but they don’t really lead to solid evidence from sources. How to argue against or in support of who Aizo was and why he did what he did?

    But anyway, thanks for continuing to post interesting material here. I’ll try to keep going with more new posts of my own as I have ideas along these lines and others.

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