Rule and Rebellion: Politics and Power in the Carolingian Empire c800-c850 (A) Sources

Department of History, School of History and Cultures

College of Arts and Law


Code 23054

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1

Module description

The aim of the module is to provide students with a deep knowledge and analytical understanding of Carolingian society and politics in the first half of the ninth century. This period allows us both to observe the Carolingian ‘governmental system’ at its apex, as well as to understand the characteristics and faultlines of Frankish political culture by studying events during periods of rebellion and unrest. This module will start with the state of the empire in the last decades of Charlemagne’s reign, and then go on to study political events, thought and culture under Louis the Pious and in the first decades of his sons¿ reigns. Themes will include contemporary ideas of kingship, authority and legitimate power, as well as Carolingian social structures and institutions, and practices of power from land-ownership to the administration of justice, the realm-wide general assemblies at which the important political players gathered, and personal networks of kinship, friendship and patronage. A varied range of primary source materials will be studied, from annals and other historiographical material, to legislation, administrative documents, letter collections and poetry, as well as archaeological material.