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Fiefs and Vassals: The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted

Overview


Fiefs and Vassals is a book that will change our view of the medieval world. Offering a fundamental challenge to orthodox conceptions of feudalism, Susan Reynolds argues that the concepts of fiefs and vassalage that have been central to the understanding of medieval society for hundreds of years are in fact based on a misunderstanding of the primary sources.
Reynolds demonstrates convincingly that the ideas of fiefs and vassalage as currently understood, far from being the ...
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Overview


Fiefs and Vassals is a book that will change our view of the medieval world. Offering a fundamental challenge to orthodox conceptions of feudalism, Susan Reynolds argues that the concepts of fiefs and vassalage that have been central to the understanding of medieval society for hundreds of years are in fact based on a misunderstanding of the primary sources.
Reynolds demonstrates convincingly that the ideas of fiefs and vassalage as currently understood, far from being the central structural elements of medieval social and economic relations, are a conceptual lens through which historians have focused the details of medieval life. This lens, according to Reynolds, distorts more than it clarifies. With the lens removed, the realities of medieval life will have the chance to appear as they really are: more various, more individual, more complex, and perhaps richer than has previously been supposed.
This is a radical new examination of social relations within the noble class and between lords and their vassals, the distillation of wide-ranging research by a leading medieval historian. It will revolutionize the way we think of the Middle Ages.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198204589
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/15/1994
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Reynolds is Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She is the author of An Introduction to the History of English Medieval Towns (OUP, 1977; CPB 1982), and Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe 900-1300 (OUP, 1984; CPB 1986).

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Table of Contents

1 The Problem of Feudalism
1.1 The nature of the problem 1
1.2 The historiography of feudalism 3
1.3 The plan of the book 14
2 Vassalage and the Norms of Medieval Social Relations
2.1 The concept of vassalage 17
2.2 Some problems of the concept 22
2.3 A substitute for the concept of vassalage: some medieval norms and values 34
3 Fiefs and Medieval Property Relations
3.1 The concept of the fief 48
3.2 Ideas of property 53
3.3 A hypothesis about property law before 1100 57
3.4 A hypothesis about property law after 1100 64
4 Gaul and the Kingdom of the Franks
4.1 The Merovingian period 75
4.2 The Carolingians: vassi and benefices 84
4.3 Full property under the Carolingians 105
4.4 Counts and the problem of the end of the empire 111
5 The Kingdom of France, 900-1100
5.1 The problems 115
5.2 Government and political relations 124
5.3 Benefices and the lands of counts and churches 133
5.4 Other full property: alods and inheritances 145
5.5 Fiefs 160
6 Italy
6.1 The problems 181
6.2 Before 774: the Lombard kingdom 182
6.3 Political relations and government from 774 to the twelfth century 189
6.4 Benefices and fiefs, 774-1037 192
6.5 Benefices and fiefs, 1037 to the early twelfth century 199
6.6 Full property from 774 to the twelfth century 207
6.7 The eleventh-century papacy: fiefs and oaths of fidelity 210
6.8 The beginning of academic law 215
6.9 Politics and the new law in the twelfth century 231
6.10 The Norman south 240
6.11 Professional law and government 249
7 The Kingdom of France, 1100-1300
7.1 The transition to professional law and government 258
7.2 Words and concepts: the twelfth century 260
7.3 Words and concepts: the thirteenth century 276
7.4 Words and concepts: the feudal hierarchy 288
7.5 The rights and obligations of property 295
8 England
8.1 The problems 323
8.2 Before the mid tenth century 324
8.3 From the mid tenth century to 1066 332
8.4 The Norman Conquest 342
8.5 Words and concepts, 1100-1300 353
8.6 The obligations of property, 1100-1300 361
8.7 The rights of property, 1100-1300 374
8.8 English law and feudal law 386
9 The Kingdom of Germany
9.1 The problems 396
9.2 Before 911 398
9.3 Government and jurisdiction from 911 to the early twelfth century 403
9.4 Full property from 911 to the early twelfth century 415
9.5 Benefices and fiefs from 911 to the early twelfth century 428
9.6 Words, concepts, and law: the twelfth century 440
9.7 Words, concepts, and law: the thirteenth century 451
9.8 The rights and obligations of property, 1100-1300 461
10 Conclusion 475
Appendix: Early treatises on the law of fiefs 483
List of works cited 487
Index 527
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