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After Rome's Fall

After Rome's Fall: Narrators and Sources of Early Medieval History

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    After Rome's Fall
    Book Description:

    This richly documented collection of essays, commissioned from a distinguished group of historians, deals with a wide range of issues in the medieval and modern historiography of the early middle ages.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7069-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Map and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction: Walter André Goffart
    (pp. 3-7)

    The plans for this book were set in motion, perhaps not untypically, by a departmental memorandum. At the beginning of each fall term, a list circulates among the History faculty at the University of Toronto, outlining the upcoming leaves and retirements; I usually read it in anticipation of reminding myself how near (or how far) my leave might be. In 1992, with uncharacteristic thoroughness, the list reached all the way to the millennium. In the roster of retirees under the date 1999, my eye caught the name Walter Goffart. That Walter Goffart’s retirement could be on the horizon came as...

  7. Walter Goffart: Bibliography, 1957–[1997]
    (pp. 8-16)
  8. 1 Our Forefathers? Tribes, Peoples, and Nations in the Historiography of the Age of Migrations
    (pp. 17-36)

    It would be folly for someone who has only a nodding acquaintance with sources before the seventh century to write an essay on the barbarian migrations, invasions, and settlements for Walter Goffart to read. This essay, therefore, is concerned, not with the evidence of the events themselves – whatever they were – but with the ideas about human collectivities that lie behind what historians have written about them since the time of Jordanes. Even here, of course, I am treading in Walter’s footsteps. A good deal of what I say will merely amplify his remarks about, for instance, ‘the wellspring...

  9. 2 The Purposes of Cassiodorus’ Variae
    (pp. 37-50)

    TheVariaeof Cassiodorus is one of the most important sources for our knowledge of government in the late Roman Empire and its successor states in the west. A selection of the official correspondence drafted by Cassiodorus between the 500s and 530s on behalf of Theoderic, Ostrogothic king of Italy from 493 to 526, and his successors, theVariaestands with theTheodosian Codeand theNotitia dignitatumas one of a small number of extant documentary texts illustrating public administration and other aspects of social and economic life in late antiquity.¹ It is a work difficult to categorize into...

  10. 3 Gregory of Tours and the Franks
    (pp. 51-66)

    Gregory of Tours lived towards the end of what we have come to call theVölkerwanderungszeit, the Migration Period, whose ethnic complexities are recalled on those twentieth-century maps in which numerous barbarian tribes move from side to side and up and down, ‘whirling furiously over the plains of Europe,’¹ following the arrows on gaily coloured ribbons, for all the world as if they were playing some cosmic game of snakes and ladders. This is a world which seems to pullulate with different peoples and tribes, each with their own language, customs, laws, and, perhaps, dress. The process of migration may...

  11. 4 Heresy in Books I and II of Gregory of Tours’ Historiae
    (pp. 67-82)

    It is quite astonishing to see how, at the end of the twentieth century, the ‘national celebrations’ of Clovis’ baptism can still arouse media excitement.¹ As far as the scholarship of the subject is concerned, it is equally astonishing to see arising once again in this context the old problems bearing on the events of 481–511 – problems once fully considered by Bruno Krusch, Ferdinand Lot, André van de Vyver, and Wolfram von den Steinen, among others.² Our astonishment has, finally, a third aspect: despite some effort to expand the subject, most often there is recourse to the portrait...

  12. 5 War, Warlords, and Christian Historians from the Fifth to the Seventh Century
    (pp. 83-98)

    A feature of the Middle Ages well known to moderns is the idea of holy war or crusade. This idea is one aspect of a more general phenomenon in which the medieval church not only preached war against the infidel, but blessed the knight’s sword and prayed for the king’s army, even when he went to battle Christian neighbours. The paradox of the church of Christ, who told his disciples to love their enemies, endorsing warfare is a topic of perennial interest, and one that has been described and analysed often before. It is also well known that the Latin...

  13. 6 Jonas, the Merovingians, and Pope Honorius: Diplomata and the Vita Columbani
    (pp. 99-120)

    The narrators of early medieval history never simply recorded events. Always writing, as they did, with a purpose, they were interpreters rather than mere record-keepers.¹ They made conscious choices in determining what to include and what to exclude from their narratives. They also made unconscious choices, hemmed in, as they were, like all historians, by received knowledge and literary forms. What holds true for the narrators of history is equally applicable to the narrators of hagiography.

    It is one thing to note that historical writers and hagiographers in the early Middle Ages were interpreters. It is another to identify their...

  14. 7 Post vocantur Merohingii: Fredegar, Merovech, and ‘Sacral Kingship’
    (pp. 121-152)

    To judge from surveys of Frankish history, modern scholarship has embraced the idea that the Merovingian kings believed themselves to be descended from the gods, specifically a divine sea creature.¹ As scholarly notions go, this idea is not a trifle; nor is it new, having been around since the mid-nineteenth century. In its modern form, it tends to be associated with a particular understanding of the Frankish state; religion, in this view, is the true foundation of primitive social and political organization, and divine descent, as an essential component in the

    I am very grateful to Edward James, Roger Collins,...

  15. 8 Aristocratic Power in Eighth-Century Lombard Italy
    (pp. 153-170)

    In August 714, Ambrosiusinluster maioredomusarrived in Arezzo, sent by the Lombard king Liutprand (712-44) to resolve a boundary dispute between the dioceses of Siena and Arezzo; his judgment was in favour of Arezzo, and, the following March, Liutprand ratified it. The bishop of Siena presumably appealed at once, for in June 715 a second royal emissary (missus), Guntheramnotarius, arrived in Siena to reopen the case; in July, he and four bishops judged again for Arezzo, and, in October, Liutprand in a formal hearing confirmed their judgment. The case is famous, in part because it went on being...

  16. 9 Making a Difference in Eighth-Century Politics: The Daughters of Desiderius
    (pp. 171-190)

    Maps of Charlemagne’s Empire, from the first one, made in the early seventeenth century and dedicated to Louis XIII, to late twentieth-century ones designed for a remade Europe, powerfully convey an impression of Charlemagne’s control over his world: he was monarch of all he surveyed.¹ Add dates, and you get a sense of inexorable expansion, following geographical logic as the Frankish war-machine rolled through peripheral principalities andexteraegentes. Genealogies provide another powerful visual display of unity and continuity. Patrilines wonderfully renew themselves over the generations – wonderfully, not least because they often seem to be all-male achievements. In either case,...

  17. 10 The ‘Reviser’ Revisited: Another Look at the Alternative Version of the Annales Regni Francorum
    (pp. 191-213)

    The small late ninth- early tenth-century AsturianChronicle of Alfonso III, a text of some brevity without much of a medieval manuscript transmission, has recently been the beneficiary of three new critical editions in the course of a single decade. It may seem surprising, therefore, that theAnnales regni Francorum(hereinafterARF) still has to be consulted in the 1845 edition of Georg Pertz, as revised by Frederick Kurze and published in 1895.¹ The number of times a work has been edited reflects its importance no more than age alone prejudices the quality of the edition. Nevertheless, the three editions...

  18. 11 Pirenne and Charlemagne
    (pp. 214-231)

    During the late 1920s and the early 1930s, the great Belgian historian Henri Pirenne published a series of key studies that were to form the basis for his exceptionally important and always controversialMohamet et Charlemagne.¹ For more than a generation following the Second World War, scholars hotly debated what has come to be known as the Pirenne thesis.² Pirenne argued that there were essential continuities in the west between the later Roman Empire and its successor states during the fifth, sixth, and part of the seventh centuries.³ Today we tend to refer to those states that replaced the Empire...

  19. 12 Lupus of Ferrières in His Carolingian Context
    (pp. 232-250)

    I first encountered Lupus of Ferrières in an undergraduate class on medieval history, and I later met him again in a graduate course on the Carolingians. I knew of him pretty much what it seemed that everyone else did: he was a protohumanist, a bibliophile, and an elegant Latin stylist. Lupus figured prominently in all accounts of the intellectual revival often called the ‘Carolingian Renaissance.’ It was Walter Goffart who introduced me to another Lupus. In carrying out various reading assignments in connection with my Carolingian history course, I encountered Goffart’sLe Mans Forgeries.¹ There I read of Lupus as...

  20. 13 What Was Carolingian Monasticism? The Plan of St Gall and the History of Monasticism
    (pp. 251-287)

    Walter Goffart’s career as a historian has been exemplary in so many different ways that it is difficult to decide what particular note to sound in order to pay him a proper tribute; perhaps if that question were opened for discussion among his peers, a consensus would soon emerge. In my view, he has repeatedly demonstrated an outstanding gift for wringing from opaque documents fresh but credible insights into what happened in the past. I think, for example, of what he mined that no one else had previously detected from Roman fiscal records or forged Carolingian legal texts or early...

  21. 14 The Chronicle of Claudius of Turin
    (pp. 288-319)

    Claudius of Turin (d.ca827) claims notice in most considerations of Carolingian literature, theology, and heresy. He enjoys the reputation of a fierce and articulate enemy of icons and pilgrimage. The received view of Claudius the rebel often masks his contemporary prominence as a teacher and exegete.¹ Yet it was precisely Claudius’ renown as a teacher and the reputation of his didactic writings that ensured his fame as a heretic. The mouthpiece, as much as the message, made for scandal and opposition. Doubts remain as to the purport of Claudius’ dissent as bishop of Turin, but literary outrage flared...

  22. 15 Monks and Canons in Carolingian Gaul: The Case of Rigrannus of Le Mans
    (pp. 320-336)

    The document with which this essay is concerned was first published by Étienne Baluze in the appendix to his edition of the Carolingian capitularies.¹ He took it ‘Ex veteri codice bibliothecae Colbertinae,’ according to a marginal note, but it cannot be located among the manuscripts from Colbert’s library now in the Bibliothèque nationale.² The incipit is not among those in the catalogues at the Bibliothèque nationale, the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, or the Hill Monastic Microfilm Library. Unless further information comes to light, therefore, the text stands by itself and must be studied on the basis of...

  23. 16 Jews, Pilgrimage, and the Christian Cult of Saints: Benjamin of Tudela and His Contemporaries
    (pp. 337-347)

    It is almost impossible to imagine a study of pilgrimage in the medieval West which will not make reference to the ‘Guide for the Pilgrim to Saint James of Compostella.’¹ The ‘Guide’ is the last of five treatises which constituteThe Book of Saint James(Liber Sancti Jacobi), known also as theCodex Calixtinusand preserved in the Cathedral of Compostella: in all probability it was composed around the year 1140 (or, more exactly, 1139) by Aimery Picaud of Parthenay-le-Vieux, a French cleric originating from the Poitou or the neighbouring Saintonge. Having in mind French pilgrims, the ‘Guide’ delineates four...

  24. 17 The Trojan Origins of the French and the Brothers Jean du Tillet
    (pp. 348-384)

    For more than a millennium, myths explaining the origins of peoples fascinated, consoled, inspired, and promoted rivalry among the Europeans whose earliest beginnings they purported to describe. The myths took a variety of forms, which can be divided, roughly, into the triad biblical, Homeric–Vergilian, and Germanic–Scandinavian.¹ Myths based on the Bible flowed from the Tower of Babel and Noah’s Ark. Trojan roots took pride of place in those inspired by Homer and Vergil. The chief figures in the German myths

    My interest in the Trojan myth and the French has over the years been stimulated not only by...

  25. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 385-388)