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M. Billoré, De gré ou de force (David Bates)

Francia-Recensio 2017/2 Mittelalter – Moyen Âge (500–1500)

Maïté Billoré, De gré ou de force. L’aristocratie normande et ses ducs (11501259). Préface de Martin Aurell, Rennes (Presses universitaires de Rennes) 2014, 443 p., ISBN 978-2-7535-3328-8, EUR 23,00.

rezensiert von/compte rendu rédigé par

David Bates, Norwich

Based on extensive original research and with a huge bibliography of secondary literature, albeit one that is exclusively composed of writings in French and English, this is an important book. All future work on the aristocracy of 12th- and 13th-century Normandy and the remarkable short-lived political organism conventionally known as the Plantagenet or Angevin Empire will have to start from it. It is also important because it eventually engages with an up-date intellectual framework on the nature of medieval rule and uses elements of these discussions to formulate ideas on the nature of Angevin/Plantagenet rule that are relatively new. Ideally there could have been more engagement with the lives and behaviour of the duchy’s topmost aristocratic elite, who appear only intermittently in the book, and with their many followers who held lands in England, the British Isles, and some parts of France as well as in Normandy. The logical next stage that should follow on from this book is an analysis of the interface between the histories of region and empire. Unfortunately there are more careless presentational mistakes than is normal in a work of this kind.

The first three chapters cover the subjects of the identity of Normandy’s nobility, the practices employed by noble families to maintain and increase power and status over generations, and the nobility’s group social cohesiveness. The wealth of detail deployed in these chapters is remarkable, with the conclusions being ones that emphasise social stability and a clear relationship between family practice and legal texts such as the »Très Ancien Coutumier«. The sections devoted to seals are especially notable and are apparently based on 785 male seals and 112 female ones. As she rightly notes (p. 29), the practice of sealing is remarkably widespread in the Norman society of its time. She refers (p. 29, note 73) to a catalogue published as an appendix (»Le corpussigillographique présenté en annexe de cette thèse«), but it seems to have disappeared during the process of converting her thesis into a book. As these sections and others indicate, there is certainly enough evidence here to place the Norman aristocracy in the forefront of broader cultural changes taking place across the medieval West. Also very good is the section devoted to aristocratic residences, with it and the ones devoted to seals being well illustrated. Women’s place in aristocratic society is also well treated.

Four chapters are largely devoted to relations between the aristocracy and its rulers and to the collapse in the early thirteenth century that brought about King Philip Augustus’s conquest in 1204. Chapters Four and Five, arguably the most important of the four, deal with the way in which Henry II and his sons exercised the powers inherited from their predecessors and the inter-face between aristocratic interests and culture and ducal rule. During this chapter (p. 196) the author finally refers to the volume of essays edited by Barbara Rosenwein and the essays therein by Gerd Althoff and Stephen White, »Anger’s Past: the Social Uses of Emotion in the Middle Ages«(Ithaca, NY 1998), that locate displays of »anger«within the theatre of medieval rule. The effective deployment here of an aspect of the debates that have followed on from Gerd Althoff’s use of the word »Spielregeln«contrasts with the book’s Introduction where vis et voluntas, which must be regarded as an expression of this culture (p. 20), is treated in isolation from these debates and also from parallel English scholarship that rejects that word »anarchy«/»anarchie«as a descriptor for times of political disorder.

An opportunity to re-shape the entire discussion of Angevin rule from the start of the book has to an extent been missed here, especially since the pages that follow the mention of »anger«are a notably subtle and effective discussion. In the same way, »national«identities are on occasion inappropriately used to describe individuals and phenomena, but she nonetheless eventually rejects another long-standing orthodoxy, namely that Normandy had effectively become an English colony by the late 12th century. As a consequence of some excellent sections she eventually joins John Gillingham, Daniel Power, and others in attributing Normandy’s fall to King John’s incompetence. On this subject, Martin Aurell’s »Préface«contains some interesting reflections on the Annales school and its rejection of biography as a branch of history. Here I would emphasise even more than he does that the personality of a ruler was culturally significant and that this requires the reinstatement of biography as a central element in historical writing. These chapters could certainly have taken more account of the broader dimensions of the continuing dynamic of cross-Channel interests during the whole of the period she covers. It is striking, for example, that it was mainly members of the cross-Channel elite who played central roles in Richard the Lionheart’s inauguration as duke.

There are far too many typographical mistakes to be listed in a review. Hence, what follows is merely a selection. On this evidence, the Presses universitaires de Rennes need to improve their copy-editing facilities. The abbreviation of »English Historical Review«is wrongly given as »HER«on p. 9. »Donington«(p. 29, note 71) should be corrected to »Donnington«. The dates of William the Conqueror’s rule as duke of Normandy are wrongly given on p. 41. The hyphen in »Zack-Tabuteau«(p. 85, note 32) is a mistake and should be deleted here and elsewhere in the book. »Lyons«(p. 142, note 63) should be corrected to »Lyon«. J. E. A. Joliffe’s book was entitled »Angevin Kingship« not »Angevin Empire«(p. 239, note 121) and on the same page Pierre Bouet’s name is misspelt (»Boutet«, p. 239, note 128). »Illchester«is incorrectly spelt on the next page and should be changed to »Ilchester«(p. 240, note 137). »Ralf«(p. 245) should be »Ralph«. Throughout the book, Judith Everard’s surname appears with an acute accent (»Éverard«). The bibliography is incomplete and many items cited in foot-notes are not included in it. To have to draw attention to the presence of errors on such a scale is a sad responsibility when a book has so many excellent features.

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PSJ Metadata
David Bates
De gré ou de force
L’aristocratie normande et ses ducs (1150–1259)
CC-BY 4.0
Hohes Mittelalter (1050-1350)
Frankreich und Monaco
Familiengeschichte, Genealogie, Biographien, Siedlungs-, Stadt- und Ortsgeschichte
Plantagenet (118792490), Normandie (4042617-8), Aristokratie (4130286-2), Feudalismus (4131524-8)
PDF document billore_bates.doc.pdf — PDF document, 339 KB
M. Billoré, De gré ou de force (David Bates)
URL: http://www.perspectivia.net/publikationen/francia/francia-recensio/2017-2/ma/billore_bates
Veröffentlicht am: 13.06.2017 15:17
Zugriff vom: 20.08.2017 00:30
abgelegt unter:
David Bates
David Bates sagt
15.06.2017 13:21

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