Lordship in the County of Maine, c.890-1160

Lordship in the County of Maine, c.890-1160

Richard E. Barton


Boydell Press



A study of the operation of lordship in western France, emphasising its continuity, rather than recent suggestions of major changes in practice.
The social and political meaning of lordship in western France in the tenth and eleventh centuries is the focus of this study. It analyses the development and features of lordship as it was practised and experienced in Maine and the surrounding regions of France, emphasizing the social logic of lordship (why it worked as it did, and how it was socially justifiable and even necessary) and the role of honour and charisma in shaping lordship relationships. The vision and chronology of tenth- and eleventh-century lordship on offer here departs from the model of "feudal mutation", and emphasizes two major themes - the centrality of intangible, charismatic elements of honor, prestige and acclamation, and the lack of foundation for any notion of "feudal transformation": while acknowledging changes in the geography of power across the tenth and eleventh centuries, the argument insists that the practicalities of the practice of lordship remained essentially the same between 890 and 1160.

RICHARD E. BARTON is assistant Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


October 2004
4 line illustrations
273 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843830863
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS010000, HIS037010
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A thoughtful and closely argued study. [...] This is a study which should provoke considerable discussion. HISTORY

In this stimulating, clearly written book, Richard Barton uses evidence from Maine and the bordering counties of Anjou, Blois, and Normandy to explore the character of aristocratic lordship in the tenth and eleventh centuries. MEDIEVAL REVIEW

A stimulating work, which deserves to be read widely. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

This is an important book. Its analysis is firmly based on a close analysis of the primary sources, well contextualised within the secondary literature, and Barton's arguments are stated clearly and forcefully. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW