Paul Halsall

Introduction to the Medieval World

Class 9: Light in a Dark Age? Bede and Charlemagne

Assigned Reading:

I.      Introduction


Last two classes Roman Empire Collapsed
-Classical civilization carried by the Church.
-Politically a series of German Successor states
 Ostrogothic Italy and Visigothic Spain
-These were both Arian states - although Visigoths converted.
-More successful in fact were the barbarians who took over as
 pagans - Anglo-Saxon England and Frankish Gaul

This class: Sums up the German effect on Western Europe,
and looks at Europe's political development. In particular the
strength of the idea of empire.
Especially we look at Charlemagne and Einhard's Life

II.     The Frankish Kingdom

A.      Importance of France
        Northern rather than Mediterranean orientation in Europe

B.      Separation of Royal quarrels from life of the majority.
        Very little government.
        Little connection of monarchs to the land.
        Church provides stability and much of what we see as
        government

C.      Population's Lifestyle
        -No towns
        -End of Roman style farms with slaves
        -Move to freer peasantry - but with labor dues

D.      The Aristocracy grows powerful
        Not same customs as in 11th/12th centuries - but
        not a total break as Marc Bloch thought
        -Composed of some old Germanic families
        -Some Romanized Gaul families
        -Minor branches of royal family

        Nobles - no primogeniture
                - no male lines only
                - no titles
                - names not based on houses or castles
                - more a group of kindred advancing each other

III.    The Mayors of the Palace

A.      Les Rois fainéants
        Dagobert 629-39 last king to wield any power

B.      Mayors of the Palace of Neustrasia, Austrasia
        and Burgundy. Increasing importance of Austrasia

C.      The Arnulfings = the Carolingians
        Arnulf Bishop of Metz

IV.     Charles Martel 714-41

A.      Tours/Poitiers 732 - Gibbon on mosques in Oxford

B.      Military Needs and Changes
        -The Spoliation of Church Property
        -The March Field

V.      Introduction to Feudalism

A.      -French Revolution meaning/Marxist meaning
        -Distinction from the Manorial System
        -Combination of Vassalage and Benefice.
        -Combination of Economic and Military needs.

B.      The Pirenne Thesis

        1.      Henri Pirenne - Mohammad and Charlemagne
                value of a historical thesis - even if not proven

        2.      -Classical World continues until 7th century -
                circulation of money, and papyrus.
                -Muslims close off East and North Africa. Make
                Mediterranean unsafe for trade.
                Collapse of money economy/reversion to barter

        3.      Need for Troops of Frankish Kings
                Combination of Vassalage with Benefice - feudalism
                -confiscation of Church property.
                -to get troops
                -in central part of France at least - not elsewhere.

        4.      Lynn White and the Stirrup
                Made Heavy Shock Combat Cavalry possible
                and needed - Need for expensive troops.

        5.      Problems
                Not all trade and archeological evidence supports
                the theory. But leads to interesting explorations.

VI.     Pepin III the Short 741-68

-Childeric III
-Pepin becomes king 751
-Pope turns to the West
-Donation of Pepin
 Donation of Constantine

VII.    Charles the Great 768-814

A.      Introduction
        Mythic figure in French Romance - Charlemagne

B.      Desire for Power - Expansion of the Empire
        Saxons 772-804/Spain/Slavs/Italy

C.      Aachen and Rome - Twin Capitals

D.      Relations with the Church
        -Desire for Roman Unity
        -Popes and Byzantium
        -Charlemagne as a Christian
        -Carolingian Theocracy? - what does it mean
        -The importance of bishops to administration
        Later problems.

E.      Charlemagne and the Imperial Title
        -Christmas Day 800
        -The Holy Roman Empire

F.      Carolingian Government
        -Size of Empire/Lack of Resources
        -Missi Domenici
        -Counts - Public Titles and Private Power
        -Capitularies/Carolingian Law codes
        Attempt at regularization

VIII.   Carolingian Culture

A.      The Carolingian Renaissance
        Use of the tern `renaissance'

B.      British Input
        -Building on Anglo-Saxon culture and Bede
        -Alcuin and the Palace School
        -John Scotus Erigena

C.      Architecture
        -At Aachen - consciously not Byzantine

D.      St. Benedict of Aniane
        Reforming Benedictinism.
        Expansion of the rule 817 - backed by Imperial law.

IX.     Einhard: The Life of Charlemagne

-Einhard
-Suetonius: The Twelve Caesars
-Wars
-Picture of Charlemagne
-Biases

X.      Louis the Pious 814-840





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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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