Advocating change: monasteries, territories and justice between East and West Francia, 11th-12th centuries

Double monastery - EnglandAdvocating change: monasteries, territories and justice between East and West Francia, 11th-12th centuries

Charles West

Published Online (2013)


This article looks at the question of the formation of territorial principalities in western Europe through the issue of ecclesiastical advocacy. Using three eleventh-century case-studies (St-Riquier, Bec, Montier-en-Der), it suggests that the different roles that advocacy played in different regions of the former Carolingian empire carried important consequences for subsequent political development. It notes that the importance of advocacy can broadly speaking be mapped along an axis from south and west to north and east, and explores possible explanations for this pattern.

Reading what has been produced so far as part of the Territorium project, it quickly becomes apparent that the historians involved share three basic convictions. The first, and most obvious, is that what is in English called the „territorial principality‟ (in French principauté territoriale, in German Landesherrschaft, though it must be acknowledged that these terms have quite distinctive connotations), that is a specific form of relation between power and space, is an important subject that rewards study. The second is that the topic can best be studied comparatively, with reference to how things happened elsewhere, since comparison helps identify what is common and what particular, and can help focus on questions of cause and effect. The third is that, although that the utility of a comparative approach to the medieval European principality has been recognised before and steps towards the goal taken (and there have been several recent publications on the topic), there remains a need for a project that, like Territorium, puts comparison at the heart of the investigation.

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