The Crisis of the Twelfth Century: Power, Lordship, and the Origins of European Government

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9780691147956: The Crisis of the Twelfth Century: Power, Lordship, and the Origins of European Government

Medieval civilization came of age in thunderous events like the Norman Conquest and the First Crusade. Power fell into the hands of men who imposed coercive new lordships in quest of nobility. Rethinking a familiar history, Thomas Bisson explores the circumstances that impelled knights, emperors, nobles, and churchmen to infuse lordship with social purpose. Bisson traces the origins of European government to a crisis of lordship and its resolution. King John of England was only the latest and most conspicuous in a gallery of bad lords who dominated the populace instead of ruling it. Yet, it was not so much the oppressed people as their tormentors who were in crisis. The Crisis of the Twelfth Century suggests what these violent people-and the outcries they provoked-contributed to the making of governments in kingdoms, principalities, and towns. Frontispiece restored from cloth edition

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Recensione:

"Was the 'old public order' of Charlemagne and his successors so public and so ordered? Was the subsequent regime so close to anarchy? Bisson adds to this traditional account by thinking deeply about the benefits and disadvantages of government. He is very aware of the inhumanity of the past he studies. . . . Confronting this world of hunter and hunted, Bisson is inspired by attractively humane impulses. And he looks for public, accountable, official remedies for suffering and oppression." --Robert Barlett, New York Review of Books

"For some time, medievalists have associated the 12th century with 'renaissance.' . . .Thomas Bisson offers a radically different view, . . . [and] makes the case with considerable brio and insight. . . .A tremendously powerful vision of the period. Bisson's vision of a dark 12th century can be questioned [but] that does not mean it should be dismissed. The Crisis of the Twelfth Century will be essential reading for all medievalists." --John H. Arnold, Times Higher Education

"The story is an old one, but so many-sided as to invite constant retelling from new angles. Bisson has found a new angle, and writes with prodigious sweep and learning." --Alexander Murray, London Review of Books

"The sustained argument is a fascinating one, the attractions of the book increased by sections devoted to rather different geographical areas from those that dominate most surveys of medieval Europe. [Bisson's] effort to combine the traditionally separate fields of political and cultural history in explaining the 'origins of government' is admirable." --John Hudson, BBC History Magazine

"In an era when bold syntheses are still too rare, Bisson has taken on 12th-century government in the whole of western Europe, from Poland to Spain, to show with unusual clarity how the period was one of violence and exploitation and how 'government' was inseparable from the exercise of personal power. Bisson's take is controversial and will stir up opposition (it's part of the attraction of the book), but his vision, and his delight in showing patterns of real structural change, make his work refreshing; and I found his nearly 600 pages hard to put down." --Chris Wickham, History Today

"This is a book which scholars of central medieval power and society will have to ponder for a long time to come. Its sheer breadth, its ambition and the lightness with which it wears its scholarship all demand attention. . . . Few other books manage to use Europe's regional variation so elegantly to elaborate on coherent pan-European themes whilst avoiding any impression that developments were inevitable. Its contribution to the debate over changes in lordship and government will be massive. It will undoubtedly serve to pull historical interest back to the centre of medieval experience." --Theo Riches, Reviews in History

" The Crisis of the Twelfth Century is an unparalleled cultural history of power in medieval Europe, and a monumental achievement by one of today's foremost medievalists." --Spartacus Educational

"[T]he overall arc of the work's argument is impressive. . . . Bisson has provided historians with an impressive work that will hopefully spark new discussions of medieval lordship, politics, and government." --Jonathan R. Lyon, H-Net Reviews

"This is a deeply learned book, not for the faint of heart or the unsophisticated reader. Bisson presumes a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the events and close readings of a wide range of texts. However, the astute reader will be rewarded with an illuminating comparative study of a pivotal point in the history of the European Middle Ages." --Theresa Earenfight, Journal of the Review of Politics

"Bisson's book . . . sweeps aside still-prevailing assumptions of teleology in political and constitutional history and forces historians of different areas of Europe to battle against any parochial instinct. That it raises so many questions is an indication of its considerable contribution to and departure from existing histories of governments and states of the central Middle Ages." --Alice Taylor, Speculum

"Bisson . . . is to be commended . . . for so effectively setting the agenda for future historians." --William Chester Jordan, Journal of Law and History Review

"This book reinforces Thomas Bisson's position as one of the most important contemporary historians of the Middle Ages. . . . Few have the knowledge of the period enjoyed by Bisson. . . . [T]his sophisticated, nuanced and subtle book will amply reward the reader's effort." --Peter Fleming, Labour

Contenuti:

Preface vii
List of Illustrations xvii
Usage and Conventions xix
Abbreviations xxi

I: Introduction 1

II: The Age of Lordship (875-1150) 22
Old Order 25
The Quest for Lordship and Nobility 31
Constraint, Violence, and Disruption 41
Cultures of Lordship 68

III: Lord- Rulership (1050-1150): The Experience of Power 84
The Papacy 87
West Mediterranean Realms 95
León and Castile 95
In Sight of the Pyrenees 104
Imperial Lands 111
Bavaria 116
Lombardy 120
France 128
Anjou 129
Flanders 142
Northern Kingdoms 155
Capetian France 158
Norman England 168

IV: Crises of Power (1060-1150) 182
Uneasy Maturity 183
Dynastic Anxiety 183
Anxious Fulfillments 191
The Church 197
Troubled Societies 212
The Saxon Revolt and Its Consequences (1073-1125) 213
Castled France (ca. 1100-1137) 229
Troubles on the Pilgrims’ Road (1109-36) 243
Flanders: The Murder of Charles the Good (1127-28) 259
England: "When Christ and His Saints Slept" (1135-54) 269
An Age of Tyranny? 278

V: Resolution: Intrusions of Government (1150-1215) 289
Great Lordship in Prosperity and Crisis 293
"Shadows of Peace" 306
Aquitaine: Princes of Ill Repute 308
Anjou: The Tyranny of Giraud Berlai 310
A Tyrannical Bishop(?): Aldebert of Mende (1151-87) 312
The Justice of Accountability 316
The Accountability of Fidelity (1075-1150) 322
Prescriptive Accountancy 325
Towards an Accountability of Office (1085-1200) 328
A Dynamic of Fiscal Growth (ca. 1090-1160) 329
Towards a New Technique (ca. 1110-75) 336
en gland: pipe rolls and exchequer 336
flanders: the grote brief and its origins 339
sicily: pluri- cultural conservancy? 343
catalonia: from exploitation to agency 345
Constraint, Compromise, and Office 349
Charters of Franchise: Some Lessons 350
Thresholds of Office 358
In Sight of Our Lady's Towers 362
Working with Power 369
Catalonia 371
England 378
France 398
The Roman Church 415

VI: Celebration and Persuasion (1160-1225) 425
Cultures of Power 430
Sung Fidelity 431
Courtly Talk 438
Learned Moralising 445
Expertise: Two Facets 456
Knowing 457
Knowing How 462
Pacification 471
The Capuchins of Velay 475
Politicised Power 484
The Crisis of Catalonia (1173-1205) 499
The Crisis of Magna Carta (1212-15) 515
States and Estates of Power 529
The States of Troubled Realms 530
The Great Lordship of Consensus 541
Towards Estates of Associative Power 548
Towards a Parliamentary Custom of Consent 556

VII: Epilogue 573

Glossary 583
Bibliography 587
Index 641

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