The representation of weeping rulers in the early Middle Ages
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This thesis examines the representation of weeping rulers in early medieval sources, focusing on the Carolingian empire between 790 and 888. The meanings applied to tears are culturally specific: thus, exploring how, why, when and where rulers cried can illuminate the dynamics of power and ideals of kingship in this period. This thesis provides a survey of a poorly understood phenomenon. It also challenges several assumptions about the nature of early medieval power. Rulers wept not only over their own sins (a well-recognised phenomenon), but also over the sins of others and out of a desire for heavenly glory. Thus, they wept in a ‘monastic’ or ‘priestly’ way. This was something associated more with certain rulers than others. As such, tears can be used as a lens through which developments in ideas about the relationship between secular rulers and the ecclesiastical hierarchy can be traced. The thesis is divided into six sections. The historiographical importance of this topic is discussed in the introduction. Chapter one assesses the understanding of tears in biblical, Roman and Merovingian sources. Chapter two focuses on the representation of tears in texts associated with the court of Charlemagne (d. 814). Chapter three explores how authors loyal to Louis the Pious (d. 840) used tears to respond to criticisms of him and his wife, the Empress Judith (d. 843). Chapter four turns to exegetical material written between 820 and 860 and examines how biblical rulers were represented weeping. In particular, the reception of these previously unrecognised images in royal courts and their influence on narrative sources will be considered. Chapter five explores sources from the later ninth century, focusing particularly on the writings of Hincmar of Reims (d. 882) and Notker of St Gall (d. 912). Chapter six considers tears in three case studies drawn from post=Carolingian sources. Finally the concluding section outlines the significance of this thesis for our understanding of Carolingian and post Carolingian political culture and the history of weeping in the middle ages.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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