Catalogue


The serf, the knight, and the historian /
Dominique Barthélemy ; translated from the French by Graham Robert Edwards.
imprint
Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 2009.
description
xi, 356 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
080143680X (cloth : alk. paper), 9780801436802 (cloth : alk. paper), 978080143682
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 2009.
isbn
080143680X (cloth : alk. paper)
9780801436802 (cloth : alk. paper)
978080143682
catalogue key
6764634
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 315-338) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
"The term 'feudal society' is a caricature. It was invented by nineteenth-century historians to capture a particular period in French history, that of the retreat of monarchy (and thus of state authority) and the supposed tyranny of fiefdoms. It had its uses. As caricatures go, it was no worse than many others. But it was both reductionist and unbalanced. Among other things, it reduced society to bonds of dependency that were ritualized and personalized, and it imagined a scenario of quasi-independent castles, each with its own knights, existing in a state of continuous warfare with one another. It largely ignored other links and networks, and it overlooked the fact that warfare between neighbors was intermittent and limited. Meanwhile, in the real world, apart from such conflict-though sometimes through it-social construction was going on."-Dominique Barthélemy In a collection of combative essays, updated for this new translation, Dominique Barthélemy presents a sharply revisionist account of the history of France around the Year 1000. He challenges the view, developed in the enormously influential writings of Georges Duby and others, that France underwent a kind of revolution at the millennium that transformed it into the classic feudal, or seigneurial, society we know from a host of college textbooks. Barthélemy advances his own original views, positing a much more complex and incremental evolution, and maintaining that the post-Carolingian world was more dynamic and creative than Duby and his successors have held. Barthélemy's view requires historians to radically rethink their notions of the history of serfs and nobles, of the so-called Peace of God movements, of the influence (indeed, even the existence) of millenarian fears, and of the nature of the legal system in early medieval Europe. Moreover, it challenges the utility of the term "feudalism" itself, and of our notion that Europe of the High Middle Ages was a "feudal society." Originally published in French by Fayard, this book has generated loud debate on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to having been revised throughout, the Cornell edition contains a new preface, concluding chapter, and bibliography.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-10-01:
Although the title is somewhat deceiving, this book is the long-awaited English translation of the author's La Mutation de L'An mil a-t-elle eu lieu? (1997). The new material includes a special preface for the Cornell edition, in which the author claims, ironically, one supposes, "this is not essentially a work of historiographic criticism" (p. x), even though the major significance of the original work was to critique the mutationiste theories fashionable in the early 1990s. Furthermore, the work also includes new introductory and concluding chapters that summarize and take positions on the debate about the so-called "feudal revolution," a debate in which the author himself was integrally involved during the later 1990s. This work is essential for all those interested in serfdom, knighthood, as well as nobility and lordship, especially because of its focus on shifts in the contemporary terms used for status and its discussion of sources. Written with nods to US and English readerships, the new material repositions a work that originally highlighted French debates in a larger transnational historiographic context. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. F. Berkhofer III Western Michigan University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Dominique Barthélemy is in my book the most interesting historian of the middle ages writing today in France, or possibly anywhere else. He combines the best of the French intellectual tradition with a deep understanding of what Anglophone anthropology and legal studies have to offer. His persuasive pen draws readers to approve the unexpected beauties his imagination and broad learning constantly elicits from his texts.The fertility of his mind seems unceasing. In this book, he transcends controversy over the supposed 'Mutation'of the year 1000, to convincingly reshape a gradual European social change over the medieval centuries around the ever-changing notions of serf and knight. This English version is more than translation of the 1997 French edition; with subtle rethinking and added chapters, it constitutes a significantly improved edition. This is a book to enjoy, but also to engage with. It will stand alongside Marc Bloch's Feudal Society and the oeuvre of Georges Duby, both as an exemplary demonstration of historical imagination and the evocation of medieval society for the twenty-first century."-Paul Hyams, Cornell University
"Dominique Barthélemy's willingness to challenge received opinion marks an important contribution which all those interested in medieval France at a critical period will find stimulating."-Times Literary Supplement (reviewing the French edition)
"The Serf, the Knight, and the Historian is an outstanding translation of Dominique Barthélemy's brilliantly argued attack on the scholarly consensus of the last half century that a so-called 'feudal revolution' or 'feudal mutation' radically transformed France and other regions of Europe in around 1000. Two new essays written for this volume show how he and other critics of 'mutationnisme' in Europe and the U.S. demolished this paradigm and established a new one. Barthélemy fought 'the feudal revolution'-and won."-Stephen D. White, Emory University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
"The term 'feudal society' is a caricature. It was invented by nineteenth-century historians to capture a particular period in French history, that of the retreat of monarchy (and thus of state authority) and the supposed tyranny of fiefdoms. It had its uses. As caricatures go, it was no worse than many others. But it was both reductionist and unbalanced. Among other things, it reduced society to bonds of dependency that were ritualized and personalized, and it imagined a scenario of quasi-independent castles, each with its own knights, existing in a state of continuous warfare with one another. It largely ignored other links and networks, and it overlooked the fact that warfare between neighbors was intermittent and limited. Meanwhile, in the real world, apart from such conflict-though sometimes through it-social construction was going on."-Dominique Barthélemy In a collection of combative essays, updated for this new translation, Dominique Barthélemy presents a sharply revisionist account of the history of France around the year 1000. He challenges the view, developed in the enormously influential writings of Georges Duby and others, that France underwent a kind of revolution at the millennium that transformed it into the classic feudal, or seigneurial, society we know from a host of college textbooks. Barthélemy advances his own original views, positing a much more complex and incremental evolution, and maintaining that the post-Carolingian world was more dynamic and creative than Duby and his successors have held. Barthélemy's view requires historians to radically rethink their notions of the history of serfs and nobles, of the so-called Peace of God movements, of the influence (indeed, even the existence) of millenarian fears, and of the nature of the legal system in early medieval Europe. Moreover, it challenges the utility of the term "feudalism" itself, and of our notion that Europe of the High Middle Ages was a "feudal society." Originally published in French under the title La mutation de l'an mil a-t-elle eu lieu?, this book has generated loud debate on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to having been revised throughout, the Cornell edition contains a new preface, concluding chapter, and bibliography.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Cornell Editionp. vii
Abbreviationsp. xii
Revisiting the "Feudal Revolution" of the Year 1000p. 1
From Charters to Notices: The Example of Saint-Aubin, Angersp. 12
Voluntary Serfdom at Marmoutier in Tourainep. 37
Serfdom and Its Ritesp. 68
The Word miles and the History of Knighthoodp. 137
Carolingian Knighthoodp. 154
Knighthood and Nobility around the Year 1000p. 176
The Peace of God in the Days of the Millenniump. 245
New Perspectives on France around the Year 1000p. 302
Bibliographyp. 315
Indexp. 339
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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