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Need a Reference

20 June, 2005

Need a Reference

Is anyone out there familiar with literature on the importance of ritual and performance of political ceremony? I’m looking for a couple of basic things that I know are out there, but I have brain fry at the moment. Here’s what I’m doing — writing a review. Book’s author asserts that modern historians underestimate the importance of ceremony (for examply, a noble prostrating himself before the emperor as part of officially making peace in order to both show his submission and to place the emperor in the position of almost having to grant clementia). Without totally blowing my pseudonymity, the book is on one of the early-ish non-Carolingian and non-Byzantine emperors. I can see that the author might be totally correct in terms of the historiography of the area in question, but I could swear there’s stuff out there for Carolingian Francia (especially in the West) and for the Capetians, at least. Heaven knows I’ve been teaching that this is the case in the Early MA for ages … (I’m thinking of the chrenecruda, Rollo the Gangler doing homage to Charles the simple (actually, any homage ceremony) … oh hell — is this in something easy, like Ganshof …? ) Which book (now that I’ve upended my coffee all over my lap, chair, and floor and just missed my computer looking for it) is clearly at home. Damn.

to clarify: I did not mean to imply that the chrenecruda was Carolingian. Just Frankish. And I have no idea if it appears elsewhere. And honestly, I’m pretty sure I don’t get the nuances of that particular ritual myself.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 June, 2005 9:42 pm

    Geoff Koziol or Philippe Buc, maybe? They’ve certainly written — or at least spoken eloquently enough to persuade the likes of me — on that subject.Or is one of them the author of the book in question?Of course, like the song says, Don’t know about history….

  2. 20 June, 2005 9:56 pm

    Neither is the author, and I don’t know those guys, so thanks!

  3. 20 June, 2005 10:57 pm

    Sorry I don’t know the bibliography on this at all, but Paul Dutton gave a fabulous paper at Kalamazoo this year called “Kow-towing to Carolingian Emperors” or something similar. You could email him and ask abjectly for the basic bibliography. He’s at Simon Fraser U. in Canada and he’s the world’s nicest person and wouldn’t mind at all. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the handout, or I’d check for you.

  4. 21 June, 2005 4:28 pm

    This isn’t my area of expertise, but IIRC Gerd Althoff is a big name in the ritualized interpretation of German political culture ca. 10th-11th centuries. Yet he may be the author you are reviewing, since his bio. of Otto III appeared not long ago in translation from Penn State Press. A review article on the subject that I’ve found helpful is Koziol’s “The Dangers of Polemic: Is Ritual still an Interesting Topic of Historical Study?” in Early Medieval Europe 11 (2002): 367-388, which has some interesting things to say about Buc’s assault on the historiography of ritual and on Althoff’s contributions to the subject. For slightly older scholarship that takes ritual seriously in political life, what about Leyser’s book on the Ottonians and Fichtenau’s Living in the Tenth Century?

  5. 21 June, 2005 5:47 pm

    D’oh! i’ve got Koziol right here. And Leyser’s book in the car. I think that I was thinking of Bloch, though. And do we know each other?

  6. 21 June, 2005 5:49 pm

    Oops — meant also to say thanks! I think the big question, that of whether scholars have taken seriously the importnace of ritual, has been answered, too. Yay. i am not going mad.

  7. 23 June, 2005 5:55 pm

    You’re very welcome. And yes, we do know each other.

  8. 23 June, 2005 8:12 pm

    Hmmmm … any hints?

  9. 4 August, 2005 9:08 pm

    Argh – I missed this plea — die Werke of Janet Nelson. There was a big volume of papers she coedited with some German two or 3 years ago, but it’s title is escaping me, that has loads of people.

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