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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.175) 5 Feud
Rebel Barons

Luke Sunderland

Oxford University Press

This chapter contends that vendettas in the Loheren cycle and Raoul de Cambrai work as alternative forms of justice and social order, and thus as a refusal of sovereignty. The barons reject royal justice and resist royal bans on feud, preferring to pursue their own grievances, via violence that preserves their position vis-à-vis the monarchy and the peasantry they exploit, just as it shapes competition with their own kind for resources both abstract and material (land, women, status, royal favour, honour). Networks of friendship, allegiance, and kinship are maintained for and by feuding. Feuding is thus more than war; indeed it includes in its dynamic periods of peace, and gives form and meaning to a world. The correct moral and social order is defended by feud. The feuding aristocracy thus usurps sovereignty by portraying itself as protector of the common good.

Keywords:   vendetta, royal laws, peace, hatred, enmity, vengeance, friendship, kinship, ethics

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