Germanic kingship is a thesis regarding the role of kings among the pre-Christianized Germanic tribes of the Migration period (c. 300–700 AD) and Early Middle Ages (c. 700–1,000 AD). The thesis holds that the institution of feudal monarchy developed, through contact with the Roman Empire and the Christian Church, from an earlier custom of sacral and military kingship based on both birth status and popular consent.
The term barbarian kingdom is used in the context of those Germanic rulers who after 476 AD and during the 6th century ruled territories formerly part of the Western Roman Empire, especially the Barbarian kings of Italy. In the same context, Germanic law is also derisively termed leges barbarorum "barbarian law" etc.
The thesis of Germanic kingship appeared in the nineteenth century and was influential in the historiography of early medieval society, but today it stands largely discredited for drawing broad conclusions from sparse evidence.
The Germanic king originally had three main functions:
The office was received hereditarily, but a new king required the consent of the people before assuming the throne. All sons of the king had the right to claim the throne, which often led to co-rulership (diarchy) where two brothers were elected kings at the same time. This evolved into the territories being considered the hereditary property of the kings, patrimonies, a system which fueled feudal wars, because the kings could claim ownership of lands beyond their de facto rule.
As a sort of pre-Christianization high priest, the king often claimed descent from some deity. In the Scandinavian nations, he administered pagan sacrifices (blóts) at important cult sites, such as the Temple at Uppsala. Refusal to administer the blóts could lead to the king losing power (see Haakon the Good and Anund Gårdske).
Germanic pre-Christianization society had three levels, the king, the nobility and the free men. Their respective political influence was negotiated at the thing. According to the testimony of Tacitus,
Tacitus notes that as each tribe had its own customary law, the political power of the king could vary between nations. Thus, he states that the Gothones were ruled by kings "a little more strictly than the other German tribes, but not as yet inconsistently with freedom" while beyond the Gothones, the Rugii and Lemovii (tribes placed at the far end of Magna Germania, near the Baltic Sea) lived in "servile submission to their kings".
With the decline of the Roman Empire, many of its provinces came under the rule of Germanic kings: Hispania to the Visigoths, Italia to the Ostrogoths, Gallia to the Franks, Britannia to the Anglo-Saxons, and Africa to the Vandals. These nations had by then been in contact with Rome for a century or more and had adopted many Roman customs. They had also been Christianised and pre-Christianization practice was slowly being replaced.
The Frankish state under the Merovingian dynasty had many of the characteristics of Germanic monarchy under heavy influence from secular and ecclesiastic Rome. Its kings, through their division of the territory, treated it not as a state independent of themselves, but as their patrimony, land won by conquest (theirs and their forefathers'). The king was primarily a war leader and a judge. There are many theories to explain the collapse of Merovingian power, most of which blame the inability of later Merovingians in war as an important factor. The commonly cited occasion of Sigebert III sobbing in his saddle after a defeat (the king was then only ten years old) highlights the importance of victory in battle for a king who is chiefly a warrior.
The principle of election, which determined Germanic succession, was abandoned in those states under the heaviest influence from the papacy, such as Merovingian Gaul, where hereditary succession and the divine right of the reigning dynasty was recognised. In Anglo-Saxon Britain, the principle survived until the Norman Conquest removed it. Anglo-Saxon kings were elected by the witena gemót. Finally, the principle survived in some form or other for centuries after the demise of the last Germanic monarchies. The civil wars of medieval Scandinavia and the electorate of the Holy Roman Empire are part of its legacy.
Amalasuntha (also known as Amalasuentha, Amalaswintha, Amalasuintha, Amalswinthe, Amalasontha or Amalsenta) (c. 495 – 30 April 534/535) was a regent of the Ostrogoths during the minority of her son from 526 to 534, and ruling queen regnant from 534 to 535. She was the youngest daughter of Theoderic the Great, and firmly believed in the upholding of Roman virtues and values. She is best known for her diplomatic relationship with Justinian I, who would invade Italy in response to her assassination.Battle of Finnsburg
The Battle of Finnsburg (or Finnsburh) was a conflict in the Germanic heroic age between Frisians with a possible Jutish contingent, and a primarily Danish party. Described only in later Anglo-Saxon poetry, if the conflict had an historical basis it most likely occurred around 450 AD.In the story, the young prince Hnæf, described as a Hocing, Half-Dane, and Scylding, was staying as an invited guest of the Frisian king Finn. For reasons unknown, a battle broke out between the two parties, probably started by the Frisian side, and Hnæf was killed. Hnæf's retainer Hengest took command, and the sides engaged in a peace treaty; but Hengest and the Danes later avenged Hnæf's death and slaughtered the Frisians.
The primary descriptive sources of the events are the fragmentary Finnsburg Fragment, and an allusive section of Beowulf. Since the battle is well represented amongst such a small corpus of Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry, it was probably significant and once widely known. Due to the fragmentary and allusive condition of the sources, however, the story is difficult to reconstruct.Chamavi
The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Roman imperial times whose name survived into the Early Middle Ages. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania of Tacitus as a Germanic tribe that lived to the north of the Lower Rhine. Their name probably survives in the region today called Hamaland, which is in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands, between the IJssel and Ems rivers.Chauci
The Chauci (German: Chauken, and identical or similar in other regional modern languages) were an ancient Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Rivers Ems and Elbe, on both sides of the Weser and ranging as far inland as the upper Weser. Along the coast they lived on artificial mounds called terpen, built high enough to remain dry during the highest tide. A dense population of Chauci lived further inland, and they are presumed to have lived in a manner similar to the lives of the other Germanic peoples of the region.
Their ultimate origins are not well understood. In the Germanic pre-Migration Period (i.e., before c. 300 AD) the Chauci and the related Frisians, Saxons, and Angles inhabited the Continental European coast from the Zuyder Zee to south Jutland. All of these peoples shared a common material culture, and so cannot be defined archaeologically. The Chauci originally centered on the Weser and Elbe, but in c. AD 58 they expanded westward to the River Ems by expelling the neighboring Ampsivarii, whereby they gained a border with the Frisians to the west. The Romans referred to the Chauci living between the Weser and Elbe as the 'Greater Chauci' and those living between the Ems and Weser as the 'Lesser Chauci'.The Chauci entered the historical record in descriptions of them by classical Roman sources late in the 1st century BC in the context of Roman military campaigns and sea raiding. For the next 200 years the Chauci provided Roman auxiliaries through treaty obligations, but they also appear in their own right in concert with other Germanic tribes, opposing the Romans. Accounts of wars therefore mention the Chauci on both sides of the conflict, though the actions of troops under treaty obligation were separate from the policies of the tribe.
The Chauci lost their separate identity in the 3rd century when they merged with the Saxons, after which time they were considered to be Saxons. The circumstances of the merger are an unsettled issue of scholarly research.Christianization of Scandinavia
The Christianization of Scandinavia as well as other Nordic countries and the Baltic countries, took place between the 8th and the 12th centuries. The realms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (Sweden is an 11th or 12th century merger of the former countries Götaland and Svealand) established their own Archdioceses, responsible directly to the Pope, in 1104, 1154 and 1164, respectively. The conversion to Christianity of the Scandinavian people required more time, since it took additional efforts to establish a network of churches. The Sami remained unconverted until the 18th century. Newer archaeological research suggests there were Christians in Götaland already during the 9th century, it is further believed Christianity came from the southwest and moved towards the north.Denmark was also the first of the Scandinavian countries which was Christianized, as Harald Bluetooth declared this around AD 975, and raised the larger of the two Jelling Stones. The oldest still-existing church built in stone, is found in (former) Denmark, Dalby Holy Cross Church from around AD 1040.Although the Scandinavians became nominally Christian, it took considerably longer for actual Christian beliefs to establish themselves among the people in some regions, while the people were Christianized before the king in other regions. The old indigenous traditions that had provided security and structure were challenged by ideas that were unfamiliar, such as original sin, the Incarnation, and the Trinity. Archaeological excavations of burial sites on the island of Lovön near modern-day Stockholm have shown that the actual Christianization of the people was very slow and took at least 150 to 200 years, and this was a very central location in the Swedish kingdom. Thirteenth-century runic inscriptions from the merchant town of Bergen in Norway show little Christian influence, and one of them appeals to a Valkyrie.During the Early Middle Ages the papacy had not yet manifested itself as the central Roman Catholic authority, so that regional variants of Christianity could develop. Since the image of a "victorious Christ" frequently appears in early Germanic art, scholars have suggested that Christian missionaries presented Christ "as figure of strength and luck" and that possibly the Book of Revelation, which presents Christ as victor over Satan, played a central part in the spread of Christianity among the Vikings.Ford Lectures
The Ford Lectures, technically the James Ford Lectures in British History, are an annual series of public lectures held at the University of Oxford on the subject of English or British history. They are usually devoted to a particular historical theme and usually span six lectures over Hilary term. They are often subsequently published as a book.Frankish mythology
Frankish mythology comprises the mythology of the Germanic tribal confederation of the Franks, from its roots in polytheistic Germanic paganism through the inclusion of Greco-Roman components in the Early Middle Ages.
This mythology flourished among the Franks until the conversion of the Merovingian king Clovis I to Nicene Christianity (c. 500), though there were many Frankish Christians before that. After that, their paganism was gradually replaced by the process of Christianisation, but there were still pagans in the Frankish heartland of Toxandria in the late 7th century.Frisii
The Frisii were an ancient Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta and the River Ems, and the presumed or possible ancestors of the modern-day ethnic Frisians.
The Frisii were among the migrating Germanic tribes that settled along the North Sea in the 4th century BC. They came to control the area from roughly present-day Bremen to Bruges, and conquered many of the smaller offshore islands. In the 1st century BC, the Frisii halted a Roman advance and thus managed to maintain their independence. In the Germanic pre-Migration Period (i.e., before c. 300 AD) the Frisii and the related Chauci, Saxons, and Angles inhabited the Continental European coast from the Zuyder Zee to south Jutland. All of these peoples shared a common material culture, and so cannot be defined archaeologically. On the east they were originally bordered by the Ampsivarii who lived at the mouth of the Ems until AD 58, at which time the Chauci expelled them and gained a border with the Frisii.
The Chauci to the east were eventually assimilated by their presumed descendants the Saxons in the 3rd century. Some or all of the Frisii may have joined into the Frankish and Saxon peoples in late Roman times, but they would retain a separate identity in Roman eyes until at least 296, when they were forcibly resettled as laeti (i.e., Roman-era serfs) and thereafter disappear from recorded history. Their tentative existence in the 4th century is confirmed by archaeological discovery of a type of earthenware unique to 4th-century Frisia, called terp Tritzum, showing that an unknown number of Frisii were resettled in Flanders and Kent, likely as laeti under the aforementioned Roman coercion.
The lands of the Frisii were largely abandoned by c. 400 due to Migration wars, climatic deterioration and flooding caused by sea level rise. They lay empty for one or two centuries, when changing environmental and political conditions made the region habitable again. At that time, settlers that came to be known as 'Frisians' repopulated the coastal regions. Medieval and later accounts of 'Frisians' refer to these 'new Frisians' rather than to the ancient Frisii.Gamla Uppsala
Gamla Uppsala (Swedish: [²ɡamːla ²ɵpːˌsɑːla], Old Uppsala) is a parish and a village outside Uppsala in Sweden. It had 17,973 inhabitants in 2016.As early as the 3rd century AD and the 4th century AD and onwards, it was an important religious, economic and political centre. Early written sources claim that already during pre-history, Gamla Uppsala was well known in Northern Europe as the residence of Swedish kings of the legendary Yngling dynasty. In fact, the oldest Scandinavian sources, such as Ynglingatal, the Westrogothic law and the Gutasaga talk of the King of the Swedes (Suiones) as the "King at Uppsala".During the Middle Ages, it was the largest village of Uppland, the eastern part of which probably originally formed the core of the complex of properties belonging to the Swedish Crown, the so-called Uppsala öd, of which the western part consisted of the royal estate itself, kungsgården.It was also the location of the Thing of all Swedes which was a thing (general assembly) held from pre-historic times to the Middle Ages, at the end of February or early March.
It was held in conjunction with a great fair called Disting, and a Norse religious celebration called Dísablót.
The Law of Uppland informs us that it was at this assembly that the king proclaimed that the leidang would be summoned for warfare during the summer, and all the crews, rowers, commanders and ships were decided.It was not only the Norse cultic centre, it also became Sweden's archbishopric in 1164.Hermunduri
The Hermunduri, Hermanduri, Hermunduli, Hermonduri, or Hermonduli were an ancient Germanic tribe, who occupied an area near the Elbe river, around what is now Thuringia, Bohemia, Saxony (in East Germany), and Franconia in northern Bavaria, from the first to the third century. At times, they apparently moved to the Danube frontier with Rome. The Thuringii may have been the descendants of the Hermunduri. Claudius Ptolemy mentions neither tribe in his geography but instead the Teuriochaemae, who may also be connected to both.Hildeprand
Hildeprand (died 744), sometimes called the Useless, was the king of the Lombards from around 735 in association with his uncle, Liutprand. After Liutprand's death in 744, Hildeprand ruled in his own name until he was overthrown later that year by Ratchis, duke of Friuli.Hildeprand was a duke (dux) prior to his elevation to the throne. In 734 he participated in the successful siege of Byzantine Ravenna. Either just before or after the siege, Liutprand fell ill and was not expected to live. The leading Lombard noblemen elected Hildeprand as king, but Liutprand recovered. Although displeased with the election, he felt bound to accept Hildeprand as co-ruler. Liutprand himself had been elected while his father, Ansprand, was fatally ill. In both cases, the initiative to elect a successor was taken by the nobility. By 735, the diplomacy of Pope Gregory II had patched together an alliance between the Byzantine exarch, Eutychius, Duke Ursus of Venetia and Patriarch Antoninus of Grado. With a large Venetian fleet, the new allies retook Ravenna. In this second siege, Hildeprand and Duke Peredeo of Vicenza were captured by the Venetians, according to the Chronicon Venetum.In 739, while Liutprand was campaigning against the church in the Duchy of Rome, Hildeprand was ravaging the ecclesiastical lands around Ravenna. In August he was joined by Liutprand, who attacked the Pentapolis. By 743, Liutprand's health had again begun to fail, and there may have arisen a pro-papal party in the kingdom, led by Duke Ratchis. The next year Liutprand died and Hildeprand succeeded unopposed. He had proved himself an opponent of both the Byzantines and the Papacy, and within a few months he was overthrown by a revolt led by Ratchis, who immediately made peace with Pope Zachary.Imperial, royal and noble ranks
Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions (for example, one region's prince might be equal to another's grand duke), the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences.J. M. Wallace-Hadrill
John Michael Wallace-Hadrill, (29 September 1916 – 3 November 1985) was a senior academic and one of the foremost historians of the early Merovingian period.
Wallace-Hadrill was born on 29 September 1916 in Bromsgrove, where his father was a master at Bromsgrove School. He was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester between 1955 and 1961). He then became a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford (where he held the office of Sub-Warden) from 1961 till 1974. He was Chichele Professor of Modern History at University of Oxford from 1974 to 1983) and, between 1974 and 1985, a Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.
He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1969 and delivered the Ford Lectures in 1971. He was President of the Royal Historical Society for four years, between 1976 and 1980). He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1982. He is the father of the Roman historian Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and the brother of church historian, D.S. Wallace-Hadrill.King
King, or king regnant is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, while the title of queen on its own usually refers to the consort of a king.
In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contemporary indigenous peoples, the title may refer to tribal kingship. Germanic kingship is cognate with Indo-European traditions of tribal rulership (c.f. Indic rājan, Gothic reiks, and Old Irish rí, etc.).
In the context of classical antiquity, king may translate in Latin as rex and in Greek as archon or basileus.
In classical European feudalism, the title of king as the ruler of a kingdom is understood to be the highest rank in the feudal order, potentially subject, at least nominally, only to an emperor (harking back to the client kings of the Roman Empire).
In a modern context, the title may refer to the ruler of one of a number of modern monarchies (either absolute or constitutional). The title of king is used alongside other titles for monarchs: in the West, prince, emperor, archduke, duke or grand duke, and in the Middle East, sultan or emir, etc.The term king may also refer to a king consort, a title that is sometimes given to the husband of a ruling queen, but the title of prince consort is sometimes granted instead. A king dowager is the male equivalent of the queen dowager. A king father is a king dowager who is also the father of the reigning sovereign.Mund (law)
The mund is a principle in Germanic tradition and law that can be crudely translated as "protection" and which grew as the prerogative of a Germanic tribe king or leader. It has been Latinized in mundium.
The word comes from Germanic *mundo (cf. Old English/Old Norse mund), 'hand; protection'.Patrick Wormald
Charles Patrick Wormald (9 July 1947 – 29 September 2004) was a British historian born in Neston, Cheshire, son of historian Brian Wormald.
He attended Eton College as a King's Scholar. From 1966 to 1969 he read modern history at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was tutored by Maurice Keen and farmed out for tutorials with Michael Wallace-Hadrill (at that time a Senior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford) and Peter Brown (at that time a research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford). Wormald's potential was subsequently recognised by both Merton and All Souls when those colleges awarded him, respectively, the Harmsworth Senior Scholarship and a seven-year Prize Fellowship.
Wormald taught early medieval history at the University of Glasgow from 1974 to 1988, where his lectures drew huge enthusiasm from students. There he also met and married fellow-historian Jenny Brown. They had two sons, but their marriage was dissolved in 2001. While at Glasgow, he became a participant in the Bucknell Group of early medievalists, hosted by Wendy Davies – the group taking its name from a village on the Welsh-English border where it often met. He delivered the Jarrow Lecture in 1984.
Following a British Academy Research Readership (1987–89), Wormald returned to Oxford in 1989 as a college lecturer at Christ Church, where he was then appointed a fellow and university lecturer from 1990, tutoring students in medieval history. He delivered the Deerhurst Lecture in 1991 and the British Academy's Raleigh Lecture in History in 1995. In 1996 he gave the inaugural Richard Rawlinson Center Congress Lecture at the 31st International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo. His greatest work, which took many years to produce, was The Making of English Law, the first volume of which was published in 1999. Volume II was unfinished at the time of his death, although his extensive preparatory papers for the book have now been published online. Following his early retirement from Christ Church in 2001, he was re-engaged as a lecturer by the History Faculty at Oxford and entered Wolfson College. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2003, and that year also delivered the Brixworth Lecture.
In 2009, a collection of essays written by leading scholars in Wormald's honour was published under the title Early Medieval Studies in Memory of Patrick Wormald, edited by Stephen Baxter et al. The book is introduced by articles on Wormald's person and his academic output.Sacred king
In many historical societies, the position of kingship carries a sacral meaning, that is, it is identical with that of a high priest and judge. The concept of theocracy is related, although a sacred king need not necessarily rule through his religious authority; rather, the temporal position has a religious significance.Salic patrimony
Salic patrimony (or inheritance or land property, after the legal term Terra salica used in the Salian code) refers to clan-based possession of real estate property, particularly in Germanic context. Terra salica could not be sold or otherwise disposed; it was not alienable.
In Salic patrimony, the clan demesne is divided between male agnatic heirs, as often (but not necessarily) is also succession to supreme chieftainship of the clan within an agnatic extended family only upon entrusting the common domain to one of the agnates.
It has been observed that "Salic patrimony" is the usual pattern of landholding in most tribal societies. In Kent, a comparable practice survived into the Norman period under the name Gavelkind.Theophilus (bishop of the Goths)
Theophilus was a Gothic bishop who attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and was among those who signed the Nicene Creed. His name is also sometimes spelled Theophilas, such as Theophilas Gothiae, or Theophilos.
Although the original documents of the council have not survived, several versions of the list of bishops at Nicaea have been preserved. British Library owns a 6th-century manuscript of Antiochene Synodicon (BL Add. 14528, ff. 1r–151v), collection of Syriac translations of records from several councils, including a list of 220 Nicaean bishops, among them "Theophilus of Gothia". Another gothic bishop that attended the council was Cadmus of Bosporus, from the Crimea. The bishops of Gothia were likely under the bishop of Constantinople's jurisdiction.Theophilus ministered to communities of Gothic Christians, in either the area west of the Black Sea and along the lower Danube, according to most scholars, or in Crimea (on the northern coast of the Black Sea).
According to the "Ecclesiastical History" in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, one of Theophilus' disciples was the Gothic bishop Ulfilas, and since Ulfilas was among the Western Goths, this supports the position that Theophilus was from the area of the lower Danube, west of the Black Sea, with the bishop's seat at Tomi.
The Danube Goths, or Visigoths, were mostly pagans until Audius and Ulfilas spread the concept of Arianism in the 4th century, converting them to Christianity. He was succeeded as bishop by Ulfilas.Another disciple of Theophilus was Saint Nicetas the Goth, whose eulogy included "The sainted martyr of Christ, Nicetas, lived in the reign of the Great Tsar Constantine; he was a Goth by origin, from those who lived on the river Danube. Being pious and fearing God, and living in the city of Gatan, he was instructed in the Christian faith by Theophilus, the reverend bishop of Gothia."In Lectures on the History of the Eastern Church (1872) described Theophilus as a light-skinned man from the extreme north, among the "tawny hue and dark hair of all the rest."
(c. 9 BCE – 21 CE)
(c. 9 BCE – 37 CE, c. 166–c. 172)
History of the Germanic peoples
Early Middle Ages)