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Making Early Medieval Societies

What held small- and large-scale communities of the late Roman and early medieval West together, at a time when the world seemed to be falling apart? New book explores this question from an interdisciplinary perspective

Making Early Medieval Societies: Conflict and Belonging in the Latin West, 300-1200
by Kate Cooper (Editor), Conrad Leyser (Editor)
Cambridge University Press 2016
ISBN-10: 1107138809
ISBN-13: 978-1107138803


Making early medieval communities coverMaking Early Medieval Societies explores a fundamental question: what held the small- and large-scale communities of the late Roman and early medieval West together, at a time when the world seemed to be falling apart? Historians and anthropologists have traditionally asked parallel questions about the rise and fall of empires and how societies create a sense of belonging and social order in the absence of strong governmental institutions. This book draws on classic and more recent anthropologists’ work to consider dispute settlement and conflict management during and after the end of the Roman Empire. Contributions range across the internecine rivalries of late Roman bishops, the marital disputes of warrior kings, and the tension between religious leaders and the unruly crowds in western Europe after the first millennium – all considering the mechanisms through which conflict could be harnessed as a force for social stability or an engine for social change.


Kate Cooper, University of Manchester
Kate Cooper is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester. She writes and teaches about the world of the Mediterranean in the late Roman period, working to understand the ‘identity politics’ of the Roman provinces with a special interest in daily life and the family, religion, and gender. Her most recent book is Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (2013); other publications include The Fall of the Roman Household (Cambridge, 2007), and a collection of essays, edited with Julia Hillner, Religion, Dynasty and Patronage in Early Christian Rome (Cambridge, 2007). In recent years, Kate has renewed a long-standing interest in the problem of religion and violence, holding a RCUK Global Uncertainties: Ideas and Beliefs Fellowship (2009–12) and a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2012–15) for a project on The Early Christian Martyr Acts: A New Approach to Ancient Heroes of Resistance. Kate regularly contributes to broadcast media on the history of gender, sexuality, and religious identity, as well as writing for print and online publications such as The Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Her personal website, KATEANTIQUITY, has readers in 124 countries and can be found at

Conrad Leyser, University of Oxford
Conrad Leyser is Fellow and Tutor in History at Worcester College, Oxford. Previously, he was Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Manchester. His work centres on late Roman and early medieval traditions of moral authority, with a particular interest in questions of rhetoric, gender and law. He is the author of Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great (2000). Other publications include Motherhood, Religion, and Society in Medieval Europe, 400–1400 (co-edited with Lesley Smith, 2011). His current project is The Age of Faith: The Story of the Medieval Church, 200–1200, a study of the clerical caste from the third to the eleventh centuries in the Latin West. He organised the international colloquium ‘Peace in the Feud: History and Anthropology, 1955–2005’, held at Manchester in 2005, out of which this book has developed. Conrad reviews for the Times Literary Supplement, and he has appeared twice as lead contributor to Radio 4’s ‘Long View’.


Introduction: making early medieval societies Conrad Leyser
1. Property, power, and conflict: rethinking the Constantinian revolution Kate Cooper
2. Playing with fire: conflicting bishops in late Roman Spain and Gaul David Natal and Jamie Wood
3. After Rome, before Francia: religion, ethnicity, and identity politics in Gregory of Tours’ Ten Books of Histories Helmut Reimitz
4. ‘To mistake gold for wealth’: the Venerable Bede and the fate of Northumbria Martin J. Ryan
5. The incidence of rebellion in the early medieval west Paul Fouracre
6. Disputes and documents in early medieval Italy Marios Costambeys
7. Divorce and remarriage between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages: canon law and conflict resolution Riccardo Bof
8. The memory of Gregory the Great and the making of Latin Europe, 600–1000 Conrad Leyser
9. The weight of opinion: religion and the people of Europe from the tenth to the twelfth century R. I. Moore
10. ‘The peace in the feud’ revisited: feuds in the peace in medieval European feuds Stephen D. White



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