All in the family? A beginner’s guide to Carolingian genealogies in the 10th and 11th century

One of the genres of source that I’m closely working with as part of the After Empire project is genealogies. Genealogies are especially interesting texts both for the questions that this project is investigating and for my own research interests: how do people engage with the past? And how in particular do they engage with…

A revitalization of the Carolingian general oath of loyalty under Salian rule?

In the Carolingian period, general oaths of fidelity like those sworn under Charlemagne, Louis the Pious or Charles the Bald created a direct personal bond between the adult male free population and the Carolingian ruler and his family. This has always been taken as indicating a comparatively high degree of statehood, as the oaths had…

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…

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…

Embodying Dynasties II: cults, politics, and genealogies

As my earlier blog post laid out, my research project as part of After Empire looks at royal mausolea as sites of historical memory in the tenth and early eleventh centuries. As we are already almost one year into the project I thought I’d give an update on how my own research is going. Over…

The Conservative Coins of Adalbero of Laon: Kings and Bishops in the Post-Carolingian World

Ah, a king’s life! Deposition and imprisonment, destitution, murder, getting backtalk from lippy counts… It’s not like there’s ever a bad time to be king, but the tenth century definitely doesn’t have much of a good reputation when it comes to kingship. Medieval historians tend to like their government big and preferably royal, whether that…

The Ottonian queen as ‘consors regni’

Uses of the past, or responses to it, are not only to be found in historical narratives, but are also necessarily reflected in a society’s political institutions. The history of Ottonian queenship provides an interesting case in point, since we cannot begin to analyse it without taking a position on the debt it owed to…

Pocket Change: the Transformation of Money in the Tenth Century

At the heart of After Empire is a view of the tenth century as an era of change. New dynasties, sometimes even new kingdoms, had to reshape the tools available to them – or craft fresh ones – in order to rule effectively. One of these tools was coined money. The Carolingians had laid a…

After Empire Inaugural Conference Report

On 17th May 2017, in the leafy environs of Topoi Haus Dahlem, the Freie Universität Berlin hosted the inaugural conference of our project, ‘After Empire: Using and Not Using the Past’, funded by HERA and bolstered by a selfless donation from Professor Patrick Geary’s Annelise Meier Fund. With an intentionally open theme and speakers ranging…