The Edict of Pîtres, Carolingian defence against the Vikings, and the origins of the medieval castle
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The castle was one of the most characteristic features of the western European landscape in the Middle Ages, dominating social and political order from the eleventh century onwards. The origins of the castle are generally assigned to the ninth and tenth centuries, and the standard story begins with the defensive fortifications established against the Vikings during the reign of the West Frankish king Charles the Bald (843–77). In this article I argue that there are serious problems with this origin story, by re-evaluating some of the key sources on which it rests – particularly the Edict of Pîtres (864). I seek to demonstrate that my analysis of this source has important implications for how we think about the relationship between fortifications and the state in the Carolingian Empire; and by extension the evolution of the castle in north-western Europe between the ninth and twelfth centuries.
MacLean , S 2020 , ' The Edict of Pîtres, Carolingian defence against the Vikings, and the origins of the medieval castle ' , Transactions of the Royal Historical Society , vol. 30 , pp. 29-54 . https://doi.org/10.1017/S008044012000002X
Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal Historical Society. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S008044012000002X.
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