Beyond nation-building: “patria” and belonging in the tenth century

Although often dismissed as a dark “age of iron”, the tenth century has also been paraded as the period that laid the foundations for the birth of later nation states. After being spawned by the destruction of the Carolingian imperial centre, so goes this narrative, the territorial units of West and East Francia would eventually…

Liturgy and authority in the post-Carolingian world

The characterisation of the tenth century as a dark age for historical written sources has deep roots. But the liturgy constitutes one area where manuscripts survive in increasing quantities from the years 900 to 1050 compared to those copied in the previous century and a half. Moreover, such records exist for communities for which we…

Dusty Parchments and Curious Peoples: Carolingian Manuscript Studies and Public History in 21st-Century Catalonia

The central aim of our Barcelona research project “From Carolingian Periphery to European Central Region: The Written Genesis of Catalonia” in the framework of the HERA-project “After Empire: Using and Not Using the Past in the Crisis of the Carolingian World, c.900‒c.1050 (UNUP)” is to show that it is indispensable for 21st-century Europe and its…

The paradox of the past in the crisis of the Carolingian Empire

Any casual reader of the relevant modern historiography would rightly come away with the impression that the legacy of the Carolingian Empire was pervasive across centuries of European history. The figure of Charlemagne was particularly attractive to posterity: idolised by French rulers from the Capetians to Napoleon, and canonised by Frederick Barbarossa in 1165. How,…

Tradition in a New Era: the Latin Charter in Tenth-Century England

Historians have often framed tenth-century England in far more positive terms than scholars examining contemporary continental Europe. Often characterised in terms of cultural renewal, this was also the century in which ‘England’ emerged as a political entity for the first time; combined, the two offer a heady mix for those seeking a nation-focussed narrative. Within…

Beyond the Carolingian dream: monks together and apart

Hello, I am Ekaterina Novokhatko, the PhD fellow for the ‘After Empire’ project based in Barcelona. Our project here deals with the Written Genesis of Catalonia during the long tenth century. Nowadays, nearly everyone seems to be talking about identity: religious, national, cultural, social or ethnic. Comparison and opposition between personalities, social groups or even…

Who made it an ‘age of iron’? Flodoard of Rheims and his ‘Annals’

One of the most interesting things about studying the tenth century is the great variety and originality of its written sources. While the period’s image problem has long roots in the perceived dearth of available evidence, surviving tenth-century texts often seem to defy typologies and literary models, which are often drawn from other, better-studied eras….

Using the past in Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim’s ‘Primordia’

The Primordia de coenobiis Gandesheimensis of Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, likely composed in the 970s, is often used by historians as an excellent example of female commemoration – that is, how early medieval women, especially in tenth-century Saxony, preserved the memory of their family’s history. In this case, the commemoration came from a convent of canonesses founded…

‘The Ordinary Name of Power’: Law and Justice in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries I

Hi! I’m Alice Hicklin, the second postdoctoral researcher working on ‘After Empire’. I’m based in Berlin, where the title of our project is ‘Legal Pasts and Normative Orders’. For our contribution, we seek to assess the role of law in the tenth and early eleventh centuries. This is an important objective and area of research,…