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Making and Unmaking the Carolingians

What is power? How do you wield its symbols? And how did the Carolingians master the noble art of ruling over vast tracts of Europe? New book by Stuart Airlie tells the story

Making and Unmaking the Carolingians 751-888
By Stuart Airlie
Bloomsbury 2020


How does power manifest itself in individuals? Why do people obey authority? And how does a family, if they are the source of such dominance, convey their superiority and maintain their command in a pre-modern world lacking speedy communications, standing armies and formalised political jurisdiction? Here, Stuart Airlie expertly uses this idea of authority as a lens through which to explore one of the most famous dynasties in medieval Europe: the Carolingians.

Ruling the Frankish realm from 751 to 888, the family of Charlemagne had to be ruthless in asserting their status and adept at creating a discourse of Carolingian legitimacy in order to sustain their supremacy. Through its nuanced analysis of authority, politics and family, Making and Unmaking the Carolingians, 751-888 outlines the system, which placed the Carolingian dynasty at the centre of the Frankish world. In doing so, Airlie sheds important new light on both the rise and fall of the Carolingian empire and the nature of power in medieval Europe more generally.


Stuart Airlie is Senior Lecturer in History at University of Glasgow, UK. He is the author of Power and Its Problems in Carolingian Europe (2012).






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