Archaeology and history: Proposals on the social structure of the Merovingian kingdom
The Birth of Europe : Archaeology and Social Development in the First
Millennium A.D., ed. Klavs Randsborg (Rome, 1989)
In recent years, research into the structure of Germanic society during its prehistoric to early modern periods has gained new momentum through the rapidly expanding archaeological data base. So great is the scale of increase that it even demands a reassessment of the written sources of information. This paper, accordingly, is addressed to a confrontation of archaeological data with the written sources. I have been occupied with such problems for many years, and it goes without say- ing that my conception of Germanic social organi- zation has changed in the course of time (Steuer 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986-87, 1988).
The central elements of the structure of society in the Merovingian kingdom can be summarized as follows: in the period between prehistory and the medieval state the Merovingians formed a ranked society with differences of rank between and within fami- lies; powerful individuals were supported by groups of followers.