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  • Europa in costruzione. La forza delle identità, la ricerca di unità (secoli IX-XIII)
  • Gianluca Raccagni
Europa in costruzione. La forza delle identità, la ricerca di unità (secoli IX-XIII). Edited by Giorgio Cracco, Jacques Le Goff, Hagen Keller and Gherardo Ortalli. [Istituto trentino di cultura. Annali dell'Istituto storico italo-german-ico in Trento, Quaderni 69: Atti della XLVI settimana di studio, Trento 15-19 settembre 2003.] (Bologna: Società editrice il Mulino. 2006. Pp. 484. €32,00.)

This volume includes most of the papers given at a conference held in 2003 by the Istituto storico italo-germanico in Trento. A brief summary of the others can be found in the chronicle of the conference in Quaderni Medievali, 57/1 (2004), pp. 155–67. Giuseppe Albertoni also wrote a dossier by the same title, but also subtitled "Fatti, documenti, interpretazioni," which was published by the Istituto storico italo-germanico in Trento, and which is available mainly online from Reti Medievali: RM/didattica/strumenti/Albertoni.html, p. 145.

Overall this information is not included in the book, and, as there is little to describe its structure, it might be useful to turn for guidance to the original conference. For instance, thematically, the contributions reflect the conference strands to which they had belonged. After the introductory paper of Hagen Keller and a historiographical one by Giorgio Cracco, the papers of [End Page 138] Jacques Le Goff, Herwig Wolfram, and Walther Pohl discussed the theme "Europa meticcia" (Mixed Europe?). Tilman Struve and Ovidio Capitani examined "Unities sought," respectively the Renovatio Imperii and Reformatio Ecclesie. The papers of Joachim Ehlers, Giuseppe Sergi, and Xosé Luis Barreiro Rivas pertained to "Rising political identities," the first examining the comparison between what became France and Germany, and the other two respectively Italy and Spain. Hubert Houben, Nora Berend, and Sverre Bagge examined the "Advent of new peoples," respectively Normans, Hungarians, and Scandinavians. Ralph-Johannes Lilie, Michael Toch, and Tilman Nagel looked at "External influences," respectively Byzantine, Jewish, and Muslim ones. Gert Melville and Thomas Zotz examined "Loca of identity and unity,"with the former looking at monasteries, convents, and churches, while the latter examined princely courts. The contribution of Michel Pauly on markets and fairs was rightly moved to this section in the book (at the conference it pertained to "Unities sought"). Hagen Keller and Franco Cardini examined "Singular and plural," respectively "La scrittura e le scritture" (literacy?) and "religion-religions."

Unfortunately the book lacks a conclusion that brings the numerous and various contributions together, even if there was a round table at the end of the conference, which was also attended, apart from the speakers, by Peter Brown, who in 2003 published the second edition of a related work entitled The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Adversity, A.D. 200–1000.

Indeed, Western Christendom dominates these conference proceedings as well, above all for what concerns the drive toward unity (it is interesting to note that the conference took place at the height of the debate on the proposed European Constitution and on the inclusion in it of references to Christianity, which, however, is not mentioned in the book). In effect, Western Christendom brought together a group of diverse populations which was coming to dominate most of the continent and, as the Scandinavian and Hungarian cases show, not necessarily by military conquest. Western Christianity introduced its diverse population to common social practices and brought the adoption of Latin as the common intellectual and governmental language, which also made available a common corpus of literature, especially a religious one at the beginning. Yet such bridges could then serve also for lay ideas as well (however, there is very little or no reference to canon law or to the Ius Commune).

Religious institutions also provided a backbone of coordination. This is particularly the case with the Roman Church, especially after the Gregorian Reform, but also with the network of monasteries and convents. The legacy of the Carolingian Empire was fundamental in many ways (with the adoption of the Caroline script among others), but after its fragmentation the Empire never succeeded in escaping the inconsistency between its universal (Western Christian) and...


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