Lordship in the County of Maine, C. 890-1160
A study of the operation of lordship in western France, emphasising its continuity, rather than recent suggestions of major changes in practice.
The social and political meaning of lordship in western France in the tenth and eleventh centuries is the focus of this study. It analyses the development and features of lordship as it was practised and experienced in Maine and the surrounding regions of France, emphasizing the social logic of lordship (why it worked as it did, and how it was socially justifiable and even necessary) and the role of honour and charisma in shaping lordship relationships. The vision and chronology of tenth- and eleventh-century lordship on offer here departs from the model of "feudal mutation", and emphasizes two major themes - the centrality of intangible, charismatic elements of honor, prestige andacclamation, and the lack of foundation for any notion of "feudal transformation" while acknowledging changes in the geography of power across the tenth and eleventh centuries, the argument insists that the practicalities of thepractice of lordship remained essentially the same between 890 and 1160.
RICHARD E. BARTON is assistant Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
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