I’ve just read Jan Rüdiger’s Did Charlamange know Carolingian kingship theory? Before I start off on the book a few notes on who Charlemagne was and on Carolingian theory.
In short; Charlemagne (ca 740-814 AD), my namesake, Carolus Magnus aka Karolus Magnus, meaning Charles the Great was the king of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans (Imperator Romanorum) from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom, a a Germanic tribal confederation first attested in the third century AD then living north and east of the Lower Rhine River, to include a large part of Western and Central Europe. He is also associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture through the medium of the Catholic Church and via this has come to defineWestern Europe and the European Middle Ages.
Politically the Carolingians succeeded the Merovingian as rulers of the Franks. Under the Carolingians, the Frankish kingdom came to include most of what today is calledWestern Europe.
The phrase Carolingian kingship theory didn’t really say all that to me so before reading the book I tried to get a scenes of the meaning behind the phrase.
The Carolingian dynasty was as stated above a Frankish noble family. The name Carolingian derives from the Latinized name of Charles Martel: Carolus. The family consolidated its power in the late 7th century and became the real powers behind Merovingians. By 751 AD, the first Carolingian king was crowned; Pepin the Short. The traditional historiography view on the Carolingian assumption of kingship has been that it derived as the product of a long rise to power. The phrase Carolingian kingship theory reflects the view on how the Carolingian came to claim the throne a.k.a. the game of thrones – a power struggle between king, the noble families and the church – a long term plan or the aspirations of one or a few men.
Or at least that was what the title lead me to believe – instead its a work on political language and the gap between the written word (latin) and the spoken word. A barrier to separate, exclude and include. – a way of using the language to your advantage. During the middle ages a lot of the languages that are around today where forming, in that transformation what position had Latin? In written sources it’s the main language at least up until the 13th century – though still important the national languages becomes more an more so. From this written sources can we find the the oral or political language of the time, how was it used and by whom – what did the development of new languages mean and to what degree did that change the political landscape? What can we find of this in the medieval texts? Jan Rüdiger does not provide all the answers – though he suggests a few, but gives some keys to seek answers concerning this and some questions to get us started.
In many ways this describes a time with parallel languages, e.g. we can guess that most spoke the national language, some Latin, most knew about Latin but didn’t need to know it – in political language there’s also conventions, your supposed to speak in a certain way, in a certain language etc. This world really isn’t that different from today; we all speak our national language but many of us can’t survive without knowing at least one more – at least if we want certain things; today it might be English but there is also new languages and codes being born through the use of internet, smart phones etc, some languages are more ones and zeroes other coded in form of smilies, new shorts such as LOL etc. New conventions, new languages in a world that seems to be on the verge of turning upside down by economic crises, political chaos, new technology and “new“ dynasties ready to take over the world whilst the old ones are crumbling – not all that unlike the time of Charlemange is it? So this might still be a book that hold keyes to the game of thrones – the real world.