Abbatial elections : the case of the Loire Valley in the eleventh century
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This thesis examines a series of documents described as electoral charters, produced in monastic institutions of the Loire Valley from the late tenth to late eleventh centuries. By considering the variations in the formulas used for each charter, the study considers what the charters were saying about power or wanted to project about the powers at play in the events they described. Through this, the thesis demonstrates that the power of lordship projected by such documents was of a very traditional nature throughout the period in which they were being produced. The count’s role on each occasion showed him to be a dominant force with a power of lordship composed of possession and rights of property ownership, but also intangible elements, including a sacral interest. By considering the context of events surrounding each charter of election, the thesis demonstrates that elements of this lordship could be more or less projected at different times in order that different statements might be made about the count. Thus, the symbolic expressions of power appear to have been bigger elements or more strongly emphasised in periods when the count’s political or military power was under pressure. The differences in formulas used throughout the period of the charters’ production demonstrate that, despite the appearance of new elements that may appear to have been important novelties, these processes were likely to have been original to proceedings, and therefore the notions of a reform of investitures taking place in the mid-eleventh century must be nuanced. Instead of demonstrating a mutation in relationships between lord and Church, the documents demonstrate an alteration in style and content, becoming more narrative and verbose and in these ways revealing elements of the process of abbatial elevations that had previously been hidden from view.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy