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Introduction

  • Bonnie Effros
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Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

In piecing together the history of Gaul during the relative turmoil of the final years of the Roman empire and the formation of the Germanic kingdoms, scholars have long devoted attention to the expression and enforcement of political and military authority. Whether written from a legal perspective or with a more holistic outlook, most of these discussions of the transformations occurring in such distant societies have focused on the workings of governing bodies, interactions among elites, the politics of ethnic identity, or the role of religious institutions.1 Yet, due to the nature of surviving primary sources, these important studies have frequently omitted reference to the activities of the majority of the population who did not often occupy legal positions of authority. While some of these gaps have been unavoidable since they reflect the historical and archaeological evidence, such as with respect to most aspects of peasant and slave life, others are far less easily explained.2 Fairly typical, for instance, is the absence of a discussion of the influence yielded by high status women who did occasionally receive attention in the chronicles of Gregory of Tours (d. 533), Fredegar (d. circa 660), and the anonymous author of the Liber historiae Francorum (circa 727). Despite significant social and legal obstacles, several notable Merovingian queens managed to manipulate unstable situations, such as the lack of an adult heir to the throne, so as to enhance their own standing and political power.3

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Notes

Notes to the Introduction

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© Bonnie Effros 2002

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