Cum consilio et deliberatione episcoporum, comitum, et baronum nostrorum’: institutional consultation and cooperative governance in the Spanish kingdoms and England (1100-1188)
Cerda, José Manuel (University of New South Wales)
Separation of Powers and Parliamentarism: The Past and the Present, 56th Conference of the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions, Cracow, 2005 (Warsaw, 2007)
If future generations of historians were to rely exclusively on the printed media to paint a sociological picture of the world, they would most certainly conclude that daily violence, endemic conflict and corruption gave shape to the early years of the twenty-first century. Would that be a fair portrayal of our civilisation, or are these reports simply confined to the themes selected by media? How are historians expected to deal with the continuous reports of violence, murder, anarchy and conflict that stain the pages of medieval chronicles? Was medieval society as violent as it is portrayed in the narrative sources that have survived?
It is in the nature of the modern media to focus on violence and conflict and it seems that not a great deal has changed since the time of medieval chroniclers. If there is anything that all these accounts share in common is that they are most naturally concerned with the extraordinary. Should medieval historians then re-create the social and institutional scenery of twelfth-century Europe on the basis of extraordinary events? For if violence and conflict were prominent features of medieval society, were these as endemic and constant as accounted in most chronicles?