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Reviews 237 Thus it is that w e have a readable edition of the very long text, select footnotes and an introduction likely to appeal strongly to the reader, whether an advanced Arthurian or someone interested generally in the process of inventio and how disparate stories can be moulded into and so enforce a national legend. W e may conclude with repetition of Weiss's central point that Wace, for all his royal patronage, wrote for a lay audience not classically educated but with a sense of worldly change, a commitment to a Christian mores and a Norman fascination with (English) landscape, not unlike his own. His bridge position in forming a national myth may remind us of Naevius and Ennius as precursors of Virgil or of Macaulay or Churchill as later shapers of British history into legend for their successors. Wace, too long a vague figure, has indeed been appropriately rehabilitated and re-presented for a new century's scholars. And the treatment n o w accorded his work is vastly superior to that still proffered the last generation in R. M . Wilson's Early Middle English Literature (1939, 1952), or M . Dominica Legge's Anglo-Norman Literature and its Background (1963). J. S. Ryan School ofEnglish, Communication and Theatre University ofNew England Weinfurter, Stefan, The Salian Century. Main Currents in an Age of Transition (The Middle Ages), trans. Barbara M . Bowlus, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999; cloth; pp. xiv, 233; R R P US$49.95, £37; ISBN 0 8122 3508 8. For English-speaking medievalists unfamiliar with the political history of eleventh-century Germany, the rulers of the Salian dynasty (Conrad II, Henry III, Henry IV, Henry V ) are probably little more than names. While Henry IV is remembered for his arguments with Pope Gregory VII over control ofthe Church, and for his public act of penance at Canossa, the larger picture of the evolution ofthe German Reich during the century between 1024 and 1125 tends to be little understood. The publication of an English translation of Stefan Weinfurter's Herrschaft und Reich der Salter: Grundlinien einer Umbruchkeit (1992) is a significant event in helping remedy this situation. Weinfurter's fundamental concerns are with the evolution of political structures in eleventh-century 238 Reviews Germany, in particular with the question of w h y the Salian dynasty never succeeded in its ambition of establishing strong central authority in the Holy Roman Empire. In explaining this process, however, Weinfurter reveals much about important social and religious shifts of great significance within Europe as a whole during this period. In its own way, the story of the Salian dynasty in the eleventh century encapsulates all the great themes of German history: power, ambition, and ultimate fragmentation. Perhaps the most vivid manifestation of Salian ambition in the eleventh century was the building of the great cathedral of Speyer, an enormous Romanesque edifice that still commands respect for its imperial grandeur, if not for any sense of intimacy. It captures one of the key themes that Weinfurter identifies in this period, the assertion of hierarchy and the desire of the Salians to establish a strong dynasty through using the structures of the Church. These are themes which he sees as already evident during the reign of Conrad II (10241039 ), a figure who successfully brought together the union of the kingdoms of Germany, Italy and Burgundy under a single rule. Conrad's strategy was to appoint members of his own royal house to duchies, as they became vacant. Bishoprics similarly became a favoured way by which Conrad II, and Henry III (1039-1056) after him, sought to centralise royal power. Weinfurter's concerns are specifically with Germany. It is hard not to reflect, however, that in many ways, the Salian rulers were attempting the experiment which the kings of France and England could only attempt in the twelfth century. Weinfurter does not confine himself to political issues. The ambitions of the Salian dynasty only make sense in terms of the parallel activity of both noble and episcopal princes to assert their authority of an increasingly prosperous society. H e draws attention to the spectacular building boom across Germany throughout the eleventh...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 237-239
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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