Carolingian nostalgia and Carolingian assemblies

Given the unpredictability of politics in our own time, it shouldn’t require a great leap of imagination to realise that those who lived in the last days of the Carolingian Empire might not have realised that that’s what they were doing. But like any polity that lasts across several generations, the empire inevitably became nostalgic…

A Letter from Abbot Odilo of Cluny

In the early middle ages, letter-writing was a difficult art to master. Letters were supposed to follow elaborate stylistic models. The language was supposed to be sophisticated and rhetorically complex. Many letters were conspicuously public documents, written to be read aloud, and not only by the recipient. But accomplished letter-writers could use their skills to…

Oh I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day (?): the Festive Period, the King’s Court, and Discord in West Francia and England in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries

The importance of Christmas in both Anglo-Saxon England and West Francia is clear from the fact that many events were anchored to Christmas: acts in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are described as happening ‘forty days before Christmas’ or on ‘the Easter after Christmas’, for instance, while the annalist Flodoard of Rheims strove to begin each year’s…

I’ll be in Rome for Christmas: Ottonian memories of the past at Christmas

Where do you spend Christmas? For medieval rulers, this was a very important question, and one that had many possible answers. In the tenth century, the itinerant Ottonian rulers spent Christmas at many different places across the empire, often at major cities like Frankfurt, Pavia, Rome, Cologne and Ravenna. Celebrating Christmas was one of the…

New website for Catalan manuscripts

In collaboration with the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the After Empire project is pleased to announce the launch of a new website which will track ninth- to eleventh-century Catalan manuscripts, part of Prof. Dr. Matthias M. Tischler and Ekaterina Novokhatko’s research on ‘From Carolingian Periphery to European Central Region: The Written Genesis of Catalonia’. The…

Wandering Archangel Michael: the Gargano legend from Eastern Italy to Catalonia

From the last decades of the eighth century, the cult of the Archangel Michael spread throughout various Western regions and became a common European religious and spiritual phenomenon. Two important sanctuaries, Monte Gargano on the eastern coast of Italy and Mont Saint Michel in north-western France, invoked numerous pilgrimages at this time. A number of donations,…

Towers of Faith: Views on the Biblical Landscape of the Tenth-Century Iberian World

The Bible in the Early Medieval Iberian World The world of the Iberian Bible is a fragmented one in a double sense. The transmission of old Bibles from late antique and Visigothic times and the production of new Bibles from the late eighth century onwards were situated in a scattered, if not fragmented Christian society…

Worrying about Hungarians in the early tenth century: an exegetical challenge

The Hungarian riders were one of the gentes whose own history was interwoven with the history of the Latin West from the first Empire through the Empire’s demise to the rise of a new Empire. Thus they had a considerable effect on these three western periods. The Annals of Saint-Bertin are the first source to…

A Reminiscence of Carolingian oath practice in Wipo’s “Deeds of Conrad II”

‘Charles’s stirrups hang down from Conrad’s saddle’. For the first ruler of the Salian dynasty, Conrad II (1024‒1039), to whom this proverb refers, Carolingian traditions mattered a great deal: Conrad reportedly visited Aachen soon after his election to take possession of Charlemagne’s throne and to emphasise his family’s Frankish roots. But the author of this…