The emergence of regional polities in Burgundy and Alemannia, c. 888-940: a comparative assessment
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This study uses the ‘duchies’ of Burgundy and Alemannia as case studies for an examination of the nature and causes of political change in the five decades after the death in 888 of the Emperor Charles the Fat ended the Carolingian monopoly on kingship in the Frankish realms. Existing narratives of this period posit discontinuity between the pre- and post-888 political worlds and define the status of dukes in opposition to royal power as the manifestation of either regional communal identity or self-centred aristocratic greed. Close examination of Burgundy and Alemannia indicates that such approaches are invalid, and that the fundaments of the Carolingian system persisted in the ideology and practice of politics after 888: a desire for the control over land and religious establishments, juxtaposed with a deep-seated belief in the centrality of the kingship to the political order. Dukedoms emerged in both regions not as a result of deep-rooted social forces but as short-term responses by magnates to crises at the centre. The perception that the dukedom was an essential form of political organization failed to take root in either territory prior to 940. Although the status of the dukedoms ultimately developed in different ways in the two kingdoms, it is suggested that the root causes of this are best sought in high politics itself.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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