Those of My Blood: Creating Noble Families in Medieval by Constance Brittain Bouchard

By Constance Brittain Bouchard

For those that governed medieval society, the kin used to be the an important social unit, made of these from whom estate and authority have been inherited and people to whom it handed. One's family should be one's closest political and army allies or one's fiercest enemies. whereas the overall time period used to explain relations used to be consanguinei mei, "those of my blood," now not all of these relations-parents, siblings, youngsters, far away cousins, maternal family members, paternal ancestors, and so on-counted as real kinfolk in any given time, position, or condition. within the early and excessive center a long time, the "family" was once a truly diverse crew than it's in smooth society, and the ways that medieval women and men conceptualized and established the household replaced markedly over time.

Focusing at the Frankish realm among the 8th and 12th centuries, Constance Brittain Bouchard outlines the operative definitions of "family" during this interval whilst there existed a number of and versatile methods during which participants have been or weren't included into the kinfolk staff. Even in medieval patriarchal society, ladies of the aristocracy, who have been thought of outsiders via their husbands and their husbands' siblings and elders, have been by no means thoroughly marginalized and ironically represented the very essence of "family" to their male children.

Bouchard additionally engages within the ongoing scholarly debate concerning the the Aristocracy round the 12 months a thousand, arguing that there has been no transparent element of transition from amorphous relations devices to agnatically based kindred. in its place, she issues out that groovy noble households regularly privileged the male line of descent, whether so much didn't determine father-son inheritance until eventually the 11th or 12th century. Those of My Blood clarifies the complicated meanings of medieval family members constitution and kinfolk cognizance and indicates the numerous ways that negotiations of strength in the noble family members may also help clarify early medieval politics.

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Additional resources for Those of My Blood: Creating Noble Families in Medieval Francia (The Middle Ages Series)

Sample text

If their ancestry is traced strictly in the male line (or, at least, in the line that held a certain office or county), as was done by the noble families themselves, the nobles of the eleventh century clearly had tremendously diverse origins. Modern scholars who take ‘‘old’’ nobility in the maternal ancestry of a recently established lineage to prove that they are not ‘‘new’’ are emphasizing ancestors about whom eleventh- and twelfth-century nobles were usually ignorant. It would be more useful to ask whether the first male of a lineage to acquire office was already a member of a powerful noble family.

On the other, most of the ‘‘new’’ men—or their immediate descendants—can be demonstrated to have had in their ancestry at least one member of the old nobility, a pattern of descent that has caused many modern scholars to declare that there was no ‘‘new’’ nobility at all. An especially striking example of this paradox is that most of the important lineages of twelfth-century France had some Carolingian blood— that is, Charlemagne can be placed in their ancestry by modern scholars— yet they themselves seemed neither to know nor to care about this ancestry.

And, second, if the new nobles were not just unrecognized descendants of old families, then who were they? Answers here must remain tentative, but some suggestions are possible. Surely one reason the new nobles were able to marry into older lineages so readily was pragmatic: if a noble had a large number of marriageable daughters, he would consider a rich and powerful count—though of relatively short pedigree—as a logical choice for one of them. 83 But there are also some indications that, from the tenth century onward, old noble families were making a conscious search for spouses from lineages to which they were not already related.

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