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Empires of FaithThe Fall of Rome to the Rise of Islam, 500-700$
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Peter Sarris

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199261260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199261260.001.0001

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The Princes of the Western Nations

The Princes of the Western Nations

(p.307) 9 The Princes of the Western Nations
Empires of Faith

Peter Sarris

Oxford University Press

This chapter charts the crystallization of a new social, political, and economic order in the West. In the emergent Langobard kingdom of Italy, a society dominated by a warrior aristocracy achieved a high degree of ideological and cultural cohesion. Likewise in Visigothic Spain, an increasingly visible and powerful palatine nobility took shape, members of which made periodic (and politically highly destabilising) bids for the throne. In Merovingian Francia a higher degree of dynastic stability was achieved, but here too a military nobility emerged that increasingly dominated the political life of the kingdom and social and economic life at the grassroots of Frankish society. In Francia an economic re-orientation is also evident, as the expansion of great estates owned by the nobility and the growth of monasticism recast realities in the kingdom’s northern and eastern territories. Much the same was true in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain, where the spread of Christianity and the importing of monastic and ecclesiastical culture from Ireland and the European mainland served to recast social, economic, and cultural life and catalysed a growing sophistication of political structures and identities.

Keywords:   Langobard Italy, Visigothic Spain, Merovingian Francia, Anglo-Saxon England, kingship, monasticism, law, church councils, wics

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