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Rebel BaronsResisting Royal Power in Medieval Culture$
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Luke Sunderland

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198788485

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198788485.001.0001

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(p.54) 2 Revolt
Rebel Barons

Luke Sunderland

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the rebel baron chansons de geste justify baronial revolt. Sceptical about the effectiveness of moral constraints on rulers, they contain their own models for constructive opposition to sovereigns, where aristocratic violence provides the only effective brake on kings. They vehicle models for constructive opposition to sovereigns and portray revolt as a vital tool of social control. Rebellion in works like Les Saisnes, Gaydon, Gui de Bourgogne, Renaut de Montauban, and the Chevalerie d’Ogier is not anarchic but limited and structured like ritual, aiming to restrict royal demands and to allow for eventual appeals to the king’s mercy. The king is eventually freed from accusations of tyranny and the rebel from charges of treason, allowing for a new partnership, with the noble as brake on the sovereign’s power.

Keywords:   baronial revolt, mercy, military service, taxation, tyranny, ritual

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