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Plenty of Puff

Charles West: Charlemagne

9 December 2019
King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne 
by Janet Nelson.
Allen Lane, 704 pp., £30, July, 978 0 7139 9243 4
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... this is the 2004 English translation; Barbero’s original Italian was even more emphatic). For Barbero, Charlemagne’s empire prefigured a democratic, open and pluralist Europe. In her new study, JanetNelson does things quite differently. Taking an approach which she says is ‘in some ways that of an old-fashioned biographer’, she offers a Charlemagne who is not the father of Europe. In fact ...


Rodney Hilton

21 January 1988
Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies 
edited by David Cannadine and Simon Price.
Cambridge, 351 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 521 33513 2
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... Byzantine emperor Constantine VII in his Book of Ceremonies were intended to emphasise harmony under imperial power, an emphasis especially directed at foreigners and the emperor’s subjects. JanetNelson’s account of Carolingian ritual, especially under Charlemagne, interestingly downgrades its profile. She presents Charlemagne as un-autocratic, socially agreeable to the Frankish imperial nobility ...


Stuart Airlie

17 November 1983
Medieval Germany and its Neighbours 900-1250 
by K.J. Leyser.
Hambledon, 302 pp., £18, February 1983, 0 907628 08 7
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The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987 
by Rosamond McKitterick.
Longman, 414 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 582 49005 7
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Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Studies presented to J.M. Wallace-Hadrill 
edited by Patrick Wormald, Donald Bullough and Roger Collins.
Blackwell, 345 pp., £27.50, September 1983, 0 631 12661 9
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... says that the book shows Dhuoda as being ‘well-read and cultured’, but we really ought to be given an idea of the nature of that culture. It is a great pity that she did not take up Dr J.L. Nelson’s suggestion that Dhuoda’s stress on the role of the father in the family mirrored developments in the social structure affecting the world of politics – Dr McKitterick’s avowed concern ...

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