restricted access 3. Castles, Barons, and Vavassors in the Vendômois and Neighboring Regions in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries
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Dominique Barthelemy 3. Castles, Barons, and Vavassorsin the Vendomois and Neighboring Regions in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries It is Georges Duby who first sketched the portrait of those milites who found a place in the elite by sitting in a castellan's court, thereby sharing in a more elevated sociability than that of the village. He cited Guigonnet de Germolles as an example of such a knight.1 Other historians also found such examples and in 1960 Jean Richard provided the fullest description of them in an article entitled "Chateaux, chatelainset vassaux en Bourgogne aux Xle et Xlle siecles," a title I draw on here. Richard's model attributed two notable traits to knights of the castle. (1) The distinction of two groups among them: lords of the countryside and knights of the castral family. The latter, of lesser standing, sometimes bore sobriquets, but both groups exhibited a certain spirit of caste while inclining to endogamy. (2) A perceptible tendency toward 1200 for the castral knights to be transferred to the countryside, or at least those among them who had not found their way into the "patriciate" of those little towns that had formed in the castles.2 There is not much to add to these two Burgundian models, based as they are upon a richer documentation than is available for other regions of northern France. That is why so little new work has been done since 1960 to carry on this discussion. The fine study of Michel Parisse does not descend to the second circleof the Lotharingian nobility; Parisse finds too 1. Georges Duby, La societe aux Xle etXIIe siecles dans la region maconnaise, 2d ed. (Paris, 1971), pp. 327-28: "Guigonnet est un paysan qui, de temps en temps, vit mieux." 2. Jean Richard, "Chateaux, chatelainset vassaux en Bourgogne aux Xle et Xlle siecles," Cahiers de CivilisationMedievale 3 (1960), 433-47. See also Richard, Les dues deBourgqgne et la formation du ducheduXIe auXIVesiecle (Paris,1954); and "Le chateaudans la structure feodale de la France de Test au Xlle siecle," Probleme des12.JahrhundertSjVortrzgc und Forschungen, 12 (Stuttgart, 1968), pp. 169-76- Castles, Barons, and Vavassors 57 little evidence of that group in the sources and refrains from a synthesis that might prove "illusory."3 The work of Theodore Evergates, using the lists of champagnard feudatories which begin in 1172, is valuable, but too late for the present purpose.4 Finally, Eric Bournazel makes a good deal of the milites civitatis in the Ile-de-France under Louis VI;5 while my own work has argued for two ages of castellan elites at Coucy, La Fere, and Marie according to the Burgundian model.6 But do these two latter studies move us beyond impressions:* Like Parisse and Evergates,we suffer from a serious shortage of evidence before 1150. Such is not at alltrue, however, of the new terrain which has occupied me since 1983: the Vendomois7 and its border-lands. For here the sources are abundant enough to rival those of Burgundy, notably those from Marmoutier (the Cluny of the West!). They point to a society rather similar to that of the Maconnais, yet with a somewhat different appearance. During the period 1050 to 1250 the feudal structures stand out more clearly, as does the evolution of castellanjusticeor that of gifts to saints, matters dealt with by Stephen White in his pioneering studies.8 What is offered in these pages is a research study in counterpoint to those of Duby and Richard. The material is assuredly limited in territorial space, but perhaps it will serve to suggest some tendencies of wider significance. 3. Michel Parisse, Noblesse et chevalerie en Lorraine medievale: lesfamilies nobles du XIe au Xlllesiecle (Nancy,1982), p. 12: "le niveauinferieurd'une chevalerie en changement permanent et dont la connaissance preciseest illusoire." 4. Theodore Evergates,Feudal Society in the Bailliage of Troves Under the Counts of Champagne , 1152-1284 (Baltimore,1975). See also John W. Baldwin, The Government of Philip Augustus : Foundations of French Royal Power in theMiddle Ages (Berkeley, 1986), pp. 294-303. 5. Eric Bournazel,Le gouvernement capetien au Xlle siecle, 1108-1180: Structures sociales et mutations institutionnelles (Paris, 1975), notablychapter 2. 6. Dominique Barthelemy,Les deux ages de la seigneurie banale: pouvoir et societe dans la terre des sires de Coucy (milieu XIe-milieu XIIIe siecle) (Paris, 1984), ch. 2. 7. Dominique Barthelemy, La societe dans le comte de Vendome, de Van mil au XlVe siede (Paris, 1993)- On the nobility, knighthood and the...


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Subject Headings

  • Aristocracy (Social class) -- Europe -- History -- Congresses.
  • Nobility -- Europe -- History -- Congresses.
  • Elite (Social sciences) -- Europe -- History -- Congresses.
  • Power (Social sciences) -- Congresses.
  • Social history -- Medieval, 500-1500 -- Congresses.
  • Upper class -- Europe -- History -- Congresses.
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