Gerd Althoff´s new book collects fifteen of his more recent contributions, most of them previously published in German, which elucidate the functioning of prestate societies. Examples from the Frankish and later German realm (800-1200) are used to clarify how rules and political rituals governed behavior in the power games between kings, churchmen and nobles. Such rules (Spielregeln) and rituals guided public and private behavior despite the fact that they existed only as unwritten customs. The long-overlooked significance of this way of establishing order has sparked a vivid and controversial international discussion in the last decades which continues today.
Gerd Althoff, Ph.D. (1974), Münster, has been Full and Senior Professor of Medieval History at that university from 1997-2018. His many publications include
Spielregeln der Politik im Mittelalter (WBG, 1997);
Die Macht der Rituale (WBG, 2003); and
Family, Friends and Followers (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Preface List of Illustrations Original Publications
Part 1: Introduction
What Exactly Are Spielregeln?
Spielregeln and Rituals
Spielregeln, Order of Rank and Conflicts
Part 2: Rules
Authority and Violence of Kings in Tenth and Eleventh Century Germany
Rules of Conflict among the Warrior Aristocracy of the High Middle Ages
Openness and Secrecy: Two Fundamental Categories of Medieval Communication
Saxon Bishops in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries: Strategies and Rules of Their Political Activities
The Perspective of an Expert: Gislebert of Mons
Part 3: Rituals
Rituals and Their “Spielregeln” in the Middle Ages
The Variability of Rituals
Rituals as Lingua Franca? Joint Cultural Practises at the Eastern Borders of the Realm
Symbolic Communication and Medieval Order: Strengths and Weaknesses of Ambiguous Signs
Part 4: Gregorian Revolution
Papal Authority in the High Middle Ages
Communicating Papal Primacy: the Impact of Gregory VII’s Ideas (11th–13th Century)
Examples of Justifying and Rejecting Churchly Violence at the Time of the Gregorian Revolution
Part 5: History in Literature
Do Poets Play with the Rules of Society?
Heroes Who Break the Mould: Duke Ernst and the Emperor Otto
Conclusion Works Cited Index
All scholars, students and others who wish to understand the functioning of prestate societies, unwritten customs, binding rituals, institutions of decision-making and means of compromise.