Perceiving War and the Military in Early Christian Gaul (ca. 400–700 A.D.)

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The passage from Antiquity to the Middle Ages has been largely studied in the light of the thesis of a gradual transformation, which is in contradiction of the previous assumption of an abrupt break due to war and general calamity. Perceiving War and the Military reassesses this historical period of transition by an investigation of the contemporary world of thought that examines the impact and significance of a permanently increasing contact with warfare and armed violence. Her studies confirm the assumption of a gradual shift, but they most of all show that the irrevocable end of the Roman Peace was a crucial factor in the late Roman world becoming gradually “medieval”.
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Biographical Note

Laury Sarti, Dr. Phil. (2012), has studied history and archaeology at the University of Hamburg, where she earned her doctorate. She is currently working as a research fellow at the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin.

Table of contents

CONTENTS

List of Illustrations xi
Preface xiii
List of Abbreviations xv

I Introduction 1

II Early Christian Gaul 13
1. From Late Roman to Merovingian Gaul 13
2. Late Roman and Merovingian Military 21
3. Authority and Rulership in Transformation 29
4. Late Roman and Merovingian Society 37
5. Conclusion 43

III Archaeological and Written Evidence 47
1. The Physical Remains – Nature and Relevance 47
1.1. War in the Landscape 48
1.2. Personal Remains 51
1.3. Inscriptions and Depictions 56
1.4. Summary 60
2. The Written Sources – Authors and Intentions 61
2.1. Fifth-Century Responses to the Crisis 62
2.2. Exchanges between the Powerful 67
2.3. Chronicles and Histories 74
2.4. Lives of the Saints 78
2.5. Summary 81
3. Conclusion 83

IV Perceiving the World of War 85
1. Warfare according to the Written Testimony 85
1.1. Spiritual Attitudes 86
1.2. Secular Perceptions 90
1.3. The non-Roman Testimony 97
1.4. Summary 102
2. Perceiving Military Men 102
2.1. Writing about Military Men 103
2.2. Contemporary Assessment of Military Men 108
2.3. Portraying Military Men 117
2.4. Summary 129
3. Contemporary Perceptions of Armed Violence 130
3.1. Warfare in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages 130
3.2. Participating in Military Activities 134
3.3. The Non-military Experience of Military Violence 136
3.4. Thinking Peace 144
3.5. Summary 150
4. Conclusion 151

V The Military and the World of Thought 153
1. Self-Assessment and Presentation 153
1.1. A new Terminology 153
1.2. Changing Military Identities 161
1.3. Framing the Military Elite 165
1.4. Summary 174
2. War and Violence perceived by the Military 175
2.1. Defining ‘Warfare’ (bellum) 176
2.2. Taking Part in Armed Conflicts 179
2.3. Personal and Political Incitements 192
2.4. War and other Armed Violence 200
2.5. The Use of Force and Preventions of Violence 206
2.6. Summary 213
3. Prevailing in a Militarised Society 213
3.1. Supremacy 214
3.2. Association and Subjugation 225
3.3. Summary 232
4. Armament in Contemporary Thinking 232
4.1. Symbolisms attributed to Weapons 233
4.2. Rituals involving Weapons 239
4.3. Weapons as a Mark of Identity 244
4.4. Summary 249
5. Male Appreciation and Potency 249
5.1. Physical Attributes 252
5.2. Names and Male Identity 258
5.3. Martiality as a Means to Self-Realisation 261
5.4. Male Appreciation and the Proof of Strengh 267
5.5. Characterising Male Ideals 273
5.6. Maintenance and Impairment of Male Worthiness 279
5.7. Summary 288
6. Religion in a World of Warriors 288
6.1. Religion and Military Men 289
6.2. Military men and the Christian Church 300
6.3. Clergy and the Warrior 307
6.4. Summary 312
7. Conclusion 313

VI The World of War in Christian Tradition 315
1. Spiritual Authority 315
1.1. Rex aeternus 316
1.2. Earthly Delegates 323
1.3. Summary 329
2. The Holy Man – miles Christi 330
2.1. The Secular and the Spiritual Soldier 330
2.2. Warlike Saints 335
2.3. Summary 340
3. The Spiritual Male 340
3.1. Beeing Male in a Spiritual Setting 342
3.2. Spiritual Fighting 348
3.3. Summary 355
4. Conclusion 356

VII Final Analysis and Results 359
Bibliography 375
Sources 375
Literature 385
Index 411

Readership

Academics, students, and non-academics interested in the transition from late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages, the military, and the history of Gaul.

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