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Reflections on the Medieval German Nobility
by John B. Freed
Reflections on the Medieval German Nobility
John B. Freed
The American Historical Review
Updated: March 3rd, 2013
Reflections on the
Medieval German Nobility
JOHN B. FREED
ASTIMOTHY REUTER OBSERVED,
the "nobility has been one of the main concerns of medieval historians since the second world war," but "surprisingly little European scholarship on the subject is generally known in the English-speaking world."l Except for Reuter's own translations of a number of important articles, only Georges Duby's studies have been readily accessible to English and American students.2 German scholars have concentrated on the origins of the nobility, the structural transformation of the aristocratic kindred, and the rise of the ministerials. German medievalists began to investigate these topics during the Nazi period,3 but two postwar political developments have stimulated German interest in the nobility. The movement for a united Europe that has invoked Charlemagne as its patron saint-the headquarters of the Common Market are located in the Charlemagne Building in Brussels4-has focused attention on the common Frankish heritage of France and Germany and the nobility's role in the creation
This article is based on a paper that was presented on March 29, 1985, at an institute entitled "The Structure of the Aristocracy in Feudal Europe," sponsored by the Department of History of the Universit). of Florida. I want to thank the participants-George Beech, Constance B. Bouchard, Fredric Cheyette, Patrick J. Geary, Barbara Rosenwein, Stephen Weinberger, and Stephen White-and Roy
A. Austensen and Lawrence D. Walker, my colleagues, for their helpful comments. ' Reuter, ed. and trans., The Medzeval Nobility: Studies on tha Ruling Classes of France and Germany from the Sixth to the Twelfth Century, Europe in the Middle Ages: Selected Studies, vol. 14 (Amsterdam, 1979). 1.
~uby,The Chivalrous Society, trans. Cynthia Postan (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1977), Medieval i2larriage: TaoModels from Twelfth-Centuq France, trans. Elborg Forster (Baltimore, Md., 1978), and The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago, 1980).
The aristocratic kindred was con~posed of members who could claim a common relationship, through either their father or their mother, with a magnate; its members did not necessarily share a common ancestor but were simply related to a specific individual. The ministerials were individuals of servile legal status, but of aristocratic life style, who formed in the twelfth century an estate, unique to the medieval kingdom of Germany. Hans K. Schulze has traced the postwar German interest in the medieval nobility to an article published by Heinrich Dannenbauer in 1941. See Schulze, "Rodungsfreiheit und Konigsfreiheit: Zu Genesis und Kritik neuerer verfassungsgeschichtlicher. Theorien," Historkche Zeitschrift, 219 (1974): 530-31. and "Reichsaristokratie, Stammesadel und frankische Freiheit: Neuere Forschungen zur friihmittelaiterlichen Sozialgeschichte," ibid.,227 (1978):
353. For Dannenbauer's article, see "Adel, Burg und Herrschaft bei den Germanen: Grundlagen der deutschen Verfassungsentwicklung," Historkches Jahrbuch, 61 (1941): 1-50. It was reprinted with the original pagination; Hellmut Kampf, ed., Herrschafr und Staat irn Mittelalter, Wege der Forschung, vol. 2 (Darmstadt, 1956).
A'ew Yold Times, March 20, 1984, p. 6.
and dissolution of the Carolingian empire.5 Second, the birth of a genuine Austrian nationalism during the Second World War and the establishment of the German Federal Republic have made Landesgeschichte-ultimately, the study of the principalities created by the medieval princes and thus long suspect as a disguised form of German particularism-academically respectable.6
A reluctance to read technical German prose and a general attitude of bitterness toward Germany after two world wars explain why most English-speaking scholars have ignored German scholarship on the medieval nobility, but those historians who have ventured into this area have probably been repulsed for two other reasons as well. First, German scholarship remains highly politicized because the study of the Middle Ages is not a politically neutral topic in the German-speaking world and because German social historians have used the study of social history to seek explanations for German national disunity. Second, many of the under- lying premises of German scholarship on the medieval period-for example, the linkage of freedom with service-are repugnant to English-speaking scholars steeped in the Western tradition of natural rights. An examination of the ideas of the three men who have dominated postwar German studies of the medieval nobility reveals that many of the premises underlying their work did in fact originate or become popular during the Third Reich. While this does not necessarily invalidate their findings, it does suggest that their work, valuable and important as it has been, requires further scrutiny. The scholars in question are: Gerd Tellenbach, who concentrated on the Carolingian imperial aristocracy, Karl Schmid, who investigated the change in family structure during the Saxon and Salian eras, and Karl Bosl, who studied the role of the ministerials in the Hohenstaufen revival.
FIRST PRESENTED HIS VIEWS about the Carolingian imperial aristocracy (Reichsaristokratie) in 1939 in a book on the so-called newer stem duchies.' This aristocracy was composed primarily of Frankish sips, or clans, who came from the heartland of the empire, the region between the Meuse and the Moselle. These nobles held the chief offices, clerical and secular, in the empire and had extensive property holdings throughout Western Europe but were highly dependent on the
See, for instance, Josef Fleckenstein, Early Medieval Germany, trans. Bernard S. Smith, Europe in
the Middle Ages: Selected Studies, vol. 16 (Amsterdam, 1978), xi-xv, 75-86; and Karl Ferdinand
Werner, Structures politiques du monde franc (VIe-XIIe sidcles): Etudes sur les origines de la France et de
1'Allemagne(London, 1979), i-iii. Fleckenstein's book was published originally as Grundlagen und Bepnn
der deutschen Geschichte, Deutsche Geschichte, vol. 1 (Gottingen, 1976).
Reuter pointed out that there has been little agreement about the purpose or methodology of
Ladsgeschichte; Reuter, "A New History of Medieval Germany," History, 66 (1981): 442. Pankraz Fried
has collected a number of theoretical articles on the topic. See Fried, Problem und Methoden der
Landesgeschichte, Wege der Forschung, vol. 492 (Darmstadt, 1978).
'Tellenbach, Konigtum und Stamme in der Werdezeit des Deutschen Reiches, Quellen und Studien zur
Verfassungsgeschichte des Deutschen Reiches in Mittelalter und Neuzeit, vol. 7, pt. 4 (Weimar, 1939),
esp. 41-69. The stem duchies were tribal units that the Merovingians incorporated into the Frankish
kingdom but that retained considerable autonomy under the leadership of dukes appointed by the
king. The Carolingians abolished the stem duchies, but the great magnates, acting largely on their own
authority and drawing on this tribal legacy, created the duchies of Bavaria, Franconia, Saxony, and
Swabia, the so-called newer stem duchies, around 900.
ruler's favor. As the Carolingian empire disintegrated in the course of the ninth century, the sips were gradually provincialized, and their members became the creators of the kingdoms, principalities, and stem duchies that arose out of the ruins of Charlemagne's empire. In an article published in 1943, Telienbach extended his analysis to the twelfth century and traced the connection between the Carolingian imperial aristocrats and their descendants, the German princes who created the individual principalities.8 Since the Second World War, Tellenbach and the other members of the Freiburg School (0. Baumhauer, Josef Fleckenstein, Eduard Hlawitschka, Karl Schmid, H. M. Schwarzmaier, R. Sprandel, Franz Vollmer, and Joachim Wollasch) have studied sips, like the Welfs, in more detail.9
It should be pointed out that Tellenbach refined his interpretation of the Carolingian imperial aristocracy during a debate with Martin Lintzel and Walter Schlesinger in 1941 and 1942 about the origins of the first German Reich. Tellenbach stressed the actions of the king, while his opponents emphasized the role of the folk led by the nobles. This is especially clear in the disputants' discussion of the deposition of Charles I11 and the accession of Arnulf of Carinthia in 887.10 The choice of such a topic at the height of the Third Reich can hardly have been coincidental. Schlesinger defended himself in his preface to the 1964 edition of Die Entstehung der Landesherrschaft (194 1) against the accusation that the subtitle of one of his chapters, "The Seignorial Structure of the Folk Order," had Nazi overtones," and Tellenbach's description of how the dukes formed the politically unorganized stem into a duchy betrays the period of its composition. "The stem duchy did not arise out of the fragmented will of the leaderless vuhrerlosen] stem but rather out of the duke's determination to rule. The duke himself was the political organization of the hitherto unorganized leaderless vuhrerlosen] stem."l2 Although Lintzel was initially skeptical about describing a sip
Tellenbach, "Vom karolingischen Reichsadel zum deutschen Reichsfiirstenstand," in Theodor
Mayer, ed., Adel und Bauern im deutschen Staat des Mittelalters (1943; reprint edn., Darmstadt, 1967),
22-73. This article was reprinted in Kampf, Herrschaft und Staat, 19 1-242. Reuter translated the article
into English; "From the Carolingian Nobility to the German Estate of the Princes," The MedievalNobility,
Tellenbach, "Kritische Studien zur grossfrankischen und alemannischen Adelsgeschichte,"
Zeitschnyt ffi wwiitembergische Landesgeschichte, 15 (1956): 169-90; and Tellenbach, ed., Studien und
Vorarbeiten zur Geschichte des grossfrankischen und fruhdeutschen Adels, Forschungen zur oberrheinischen
Landesgeschichte, vol. 4 (Freiburg, 1957). I derived the list of Tellenbach's associates from his
"Kritische Studien" (p. 169, headnote) and from the contributors in Studien und Vorarbeiten. On the
Welfs, see Tellenbach, "~ber die altesten Welfen jm West- und Ostfrankenreich," in Tellenbach,
Studien und Vorarbeiten, 33540; and Fleckenstein, "Uber die Herkunft der Welfen und ihre Anfange
in Siiddeutschland," ibid., 71-136.
'O Schlesinger, "Kaiser Arnulf und die Entstehung des deutschen Staates und Volkes," Historische
Zeitschnyt, I63 (1941): 457-70; Tellenbach, "Zur Geschichte Kaiser Arnulfs," ibid., 165 (1942): 229-45;
and Lintzel, "Zur Stellung der ostfrankischen Aristokratie beim Sturz Karls 111. und der Entstehung
der Stammesherzogtiimer," ibid., 166 (1942): 457-72. These articles have been reprinted with the
original pagination. See Kampf, ed., Die Entstehungdes Deutschen Reiches (Deutschland um 9001,Wege der
Forschung, vol. 1 (Darmstadt, 1956). In addition, see Tellenbach, Konigtum und Stamme; and
Schlesinger,Die Entstehung der Landesherrschaft, Sachsische Forschungen zur Geschichte, vol. 1 (1941;
reprint edn., Darmstadt, 1964), 130-32. On this debate, see Werner, Dlls NS-Geschichtsbild und die
deutsche Geschichtswissenschaft (Stuttgart, 1967), 5 1-52.
l1 Schlesinger, Entstehung der Landesherrschaft, xiv. "Tellenbach,Konigtum und Stamme, 92. Geoffrey Barraclough popularized in the English-speaking world Tellenbach's thesis that the dukes created the duchies during the reign of Conrad I; Barraclough,
like the Liudolfingians, the ancestors of the tenth-century Saxon kings of Ger- many, as simply a "creature of the king" and had misgivings about the mean- ing of Reichsaristokratie,l3 the term has become standard in postwar German historiography.14
Tellenbach's theory of an imperial aristocracy can be criticized on a number of grounds. The first, methodological. Although members of the Freiburg School have repeatedly cautioned historians about using distinctive names that appear frequently in the sources to fill in gaps in family trees before the eleventh century,l5 the temptation to arrange the few surviving pieces of the jigsaw puzzle into a complete picture has proved overwhelming, even for Tellenbach and his col- leagues. For instance, in his discussion of Frankish aristocrats who served in Italy, Tellenbach wrote: "One must judge equally carefully about Duke Garamannus, about whom Pope Adrian I complained in 787191 because he had seized properties of the church of Ravenna. We find several references in Alamannia to a Count Caramann between 797 and 820, yet another one in 834, and then between 838 and 850 to a witness Caramann [Craman]. Count Caramann was, according to the testimony of witnesses about St. Gall's property in Vilsingen, a relative of the Berthold sip. He is undoubtedly the Count Caramann who is named on several occasions in the Book of Confraternity of Reichenau. He could have been the same person as the Italian duke."l6 Although Tellenbach did not actually say that the Italian duke and the Alamannian count were the same person, his overall thesis about an international imperial aristocracy with interests on both sides of the Alps would have been better served if they were. How likely is it, however, that a duke about whom the pope complained in 78719 1 would still have been alive in 834, let alone in 850?
The danger in equating people who had identical or similar names is illustrated by Heinz Dopsch's critical comments about previous studies of the Otakare, the twelfth-century margraves of Styria, whose ancestry has been traced by other scholars to the eighth century. Dopsch pointed out that the Frankish duke
The Origzns of Modem Germany (2d edn., New York, 1947), 21-23. On this point, see Tellenbach, Konigtum und Stamme, 70-100. The origins of the so-called newer stem duchies has been one of the most controversial issues in postwar German historiography on the medieval period. For additional information, see John B. Freed, "Germany, Stem Duchies," The Dictionary of the Middle Ages (New York, 1985), vol. 5, pp. 505-1 1.
l3 Lintzel, "Stellung der ostfrankischen Aristokratie," 162-64.
l4 See, for instance, Bruno Gebhardt, Handbuchderdeutschen Geschichte, ed. Herbert Grundmann (9th
edn., Stuttgart, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 192-95, 719-21.
l5 Schmid, "Konigtum, Adel und Kloster zwischen Bodensee und Schwarzwald (8.-12. Jahrhundert)," in Tellenbach, Studien ulzd Vorarbeiten, 330-31, "Uber die Struktur des Adels im friiheren Mittelalter," Jahrbuch furfriinkische Landesforschung, 19 (1959): 1-7, and "Zur Problematik von Familie, Sippe und Geschlecht, Haus und Dynastie beim mittelalterlichen Adel: Vorfragen zum Thema, 'Adel und Herrschaft im Mittelalter,"' Zeitschrift fur die Geschichte des Oberrheins, 105 (1957): 1-16; and Tellenbach, "Kritische Studien," 169-70, 179-80. Schmid's articles "Uber die Struktur des
Adels" and "Zur Problematik von Familie" have been reprinted in Schmid, Gebetsgedenken und adliges
Selbstverstandnis im Mittelalter: Ausgewahlte Beitrage; Festgabe zu seinem sechzigsten Geburtstag (Sigmaringen,
1983), 245-67, 183-244. Reuter translated "Uber die Struktur des Adels." See "The Structure of the
Nobility in the Earlier Middle Ages," The Medieval Nobility, 38-42.
l6 Tellenbach, "Der grossfrankische Adel und die Regierung Italiens in der Bliitezeit des
Karolingerreiches," in Tellenbach, Studien und Vorarbeiten, 65.
Autchar, who fled with Carloman's widow to the court of Desiderius in 771 and who became the model of the epic hero Ogier le Danois, could not have been the same person as the Otakar who was at the moment of Autchar's flight to Italy a benefactor of Fulda, and it is not known whether either man was identical with the Otakar who founded the Bavarian monastery of Tegernsee around 762165.'' In this case we are dealing, as Dopsch has shown, with two, if not three, contemporary prominent men with the same name or variants thereof. Such evidence can be subjected to numerous permutations that are the scholarly equivalent of a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat. Tellenbach and his associates have created an extremely useful methodology for studying the early medieval nobility, but it must be used with great care.
In 1958, in a review of Tellenbach's studies, Bosl levied a more fundamental criticism at the Freiburg School: it was ignoring the Germanic Uradel, the stem nobility, in its work.l"ince then Austrian and Bavarian scholars have studied how the imperial aristocracy and the stem nobility coalesced in southeastern Germany. Michael Mitterauer demonstrated that Frankish imperial aristocrats, a few of whom, such as Count Witagowo of the Carantanian mark, were actually of Gallo-Roman ancestry, intermarried with Bavarian and even Slavic nobles. For instance, the Sighardinger, partisans of Louis the German's son Carloman, came from the Rhineland to the southeastern Carolingian marks, where they married Bavarian noblewomen.19 Their descendants played a prominent role in Austro- Bavarian affairs until the thirteenth century.20 Friedrich Prinz and Wilhelm Stormer, Bosl's own students, have emphasized that the Bavarian nobility in the Freising area already had close ties to the Carolingians before Bavaria's final incorporation into the Frankish empire. Prinz even called the five noble kindreds (who were described in the eight-century Lex Baiuvariorum as being second in rank only to the ducal house) Charlemagne's Fifth Column in Agilulfingian Bavaria.21 Ironically, the last Agilulfingian duke, Tassilo 111, whose mother was the sister of Pepin the Short, was himself of Burgundian-Frankish ancestry.22 The contrast
l7 Dopsch, "Die steirischen Otakare: Zu ihrer Herkunft und ihren dynastischen Verbindungen," in
Gerhard Pferschy, ed., Dm Werden der Steiennark: Die Zeit der Traungauer, Verijffentlichungen des
steiermarkischen Landesarchives, vol. 10 (Graz, 1980), 78-83.
l8 Bosl, "Reichsaristokratie und Uradel," Zeitschrft fur bayerische Landesgeschichte, 21 (1958): 138-45.
l9 Mitterauer, Karolinpche Markpafen im Siidosten: Frankkche Reichsaristokratie und bayerische
Stammesadel im osterreichkchen Raum, Archiv fur osterreichische Geschichte, vol. 123 (Vienna, 1963),
144-53, 212-27, and "Slawischer und bayrischer Adel am Ausgang der Karolingerzeit," Carinthia I,
150 (1960): 693-726.
'O Dopsch, Geschichte Salzburgs: Stadt und Land, volume 1: Vorgeschichte, Altertum, Mittelalter, 3 pts. (Salzburg, 1981-84), pt. 1, p. 363.
"Stormer, Adelsgruppen im friih- und hochmittelalterlichen Bayern, Studien zur bayerischen Verfassungs- und Sozialgeschichte, vol. 4 (Munich, 1972), Vomort, 3,6; and Prinz, "Herzog und Adel, im agilulfingischen Bayern: Herzogsgut und Konsensschenkungen vor 788," Zeitschnyt fur bayerische Landesgeschichte, 25 (1962): 283-31 1. Prinz's article has been reprinted with the original pagination; Bosl, ed., Zur Geschichte der Bayern, Wege der Forschung, vol. 60 (Darmstadt, 1965).
'"rich Zollner, "Die Herkunft der Agilulfinger," Mitteilungen des lnstituts fur osterreichkche
Geschichtsforschung, 59 (1951): 245-64; and Josef Siegwart, "Zur Frage des alemannischen
Herzogsgutes urn Ziirich: Beitrag zur Genealogie des alemannisch-bayrischen Herzogshauses,"
Schweirerkche Zeitschrift fur Geschichte, 8 (1958): 145-92. Zollner's article has been reprinted with the
original pagination; Bosl, Zur Geschichte der Bayern. Siegwart's article has been reprinted; Wolfgang
Muller, ed., Zur Geschichteder Alemannen, Wege der Forschung, vol. 100 (Darmstadt, 1975), esp. 237-49.
between the Frankish imperial aristocracy and the Bavarian stem nobility ought not to be drawn too sharply.
Still, Bavaria was one of the last areas to be incorporated into the Carolingian empire, and it is thus not particularly surprising that Bavaria retained more of its Germanic character than the more western parts of Charlemagne's realm. As Lkopold Genicot has pointed out, German scholars have always tended to believe in the survival of the Uradel,while French historians, such as Paul Guilhiermoz and Marc Bloch, have maintained that the Merovingians exterminated both the Gallo-Roman senatorial aristocracy and the Frankish stem nobility.23 Karl Ferdinand Werner has argued, however, that both groups survived and merged in Merovingian Gaul and that the Carolingians depended on the nobility of Neustria and Burgundy as well as that of Austrasia in their rise to p0wer.2~ Charlemagne's alliance with the western Bavarian nobles against Tassilo 111, his cousin and rival prince, and the subsequent coalescing of the Frankish and Bavarian nobility to form the high nobility of medieval Bavaria may not have been exceptional after all. If Werner is correct, little remains of Tellenbach's Carolingian imperial aristocracy recruited from the area between the Meuse and the Moselle and dependent on the king's favor. In essence, Werner, like Lintzel and Schlesinger, has stressed the Carolingians' dependence on the nobility. The picture that emerges is one of extraordinary continuity in the composition of the upper stratum of the nobility between the Merovingian and Hohenstaufen periods. The princes of the twelfth century were the descendants of nobles who had assisted the Carolingians in their rise to power and in the governance of the Frankish empire and who had been the chief beneficiaries of its dissolution.
Constance B. Bouchard has challenged this picture in the case of the French nobility. She argued that demonstrations of biological continuity between the nobility of the Carolingian period and the nobility of the twelfth century-for example, Werner's work on the Touraine and Duby's revised study of the MAconnais--do not disprove the theory that the composition of the noble elite changed between the ninth and twelfth centuries because new men were able to marry into established lineages. Essentially, Werner and Duby have merely proved that upstarts became the sons-in-law of "noble fathers with a large number of eligible daughters." This explains in Bouchard's opinion why the size of the French noble elite expanded dramatically between the ninth and twelfth centuries and why noble lineages like the Angevins, whose ancestry can be traced to the
23 Genicot, "Les recherches relatives a la noblesse rnkdikvale," AcadJmie royale de Belgique: Bulletin de
la che des lettres et des sciences morales et politiques, 5th ser., 61 (1975): 59-63. This has been reprinted
with the original pagination; Genicot, La noblesse dam l'occzdent mJdiival (London, 1982). See
Guilhiermoz,Essaisur l'origzne de la noblesse en France au moyen cige (1902; reprint edn., New York, 1960),
1-4; and Bloch, Feudal Society, 2 vols. (Chicago, 1964), 2: 283-84.
"Werner, "Bedeutende Adelsfamilien im Reich Karls des Grossen: Ein personengeschichtlicher Beitrag zum Verhaltnis von Konigtum und Adel im fruhen Mittelalter," in H. Beurnann, ed., Karl der Grosse, Lebenswerk und Nachleben, volume 1 :Personlichkeit und Geschichte (Dusseldorf, 1965): 83-142. This has been translated by Reuter; "Important Noble Families in the Kingdom of Charlemagne-A Prosopographical Study of the Relationship between King and Nobility in the Early Middle Ages," The Medieval Nobility, 137-202.
Carolingian period, were viewed in the twelfth century as the descendants of upstarts.25
While Germany in the Ottonian and early Salian periods was considerably more stable than tenth-century France, Bouchard's thesis may also be partially applicable to Germany. Many German nobles improved their positions by fortuitous marriages. For instance, the Spanheimer, the dukes of Carinthia from 1122 to 1269, were the descendants of Siegfried of Spanheim, who married Richgard, the daughter of Count Engelbert, whose inheritance included extensive properties in Carinthia and Bavaria. An entry in the codex of traditions of the Benedic- tine monastery of St. Paul's in the Lavant Valley described their son Count Engel- bert I, the father of the first duke, as "Count Engelbert through his father Siegfried a Frank, but through his mother Richgard first among the magnates of Carinthia."26 There may even have been some real novi homines among the princes of the twelfth century. Lutz Fenske has demonstrated that Louis I, who became the landgrave of Thuringia in 1131, was the grandson of a minor nobleman.27 Finally, studies of the continuity of the German noble elite have concentrated on the princely and comital dynasties, but continuity among these groups does not necessarily mean that the large number of minor noble lineages that are mentioned-say, in the codices of traditions of the various Bavarian churches in the twelfth century-were the descendants of the Carolingian imperial aristocracy or Bavarian stem nobility. For example, the first known members of the Felben and Walchen lineages, the two most important noble families in the Pinzgau in the Austrian province of Salzburg, appeared only in the first half of the twelfth century.28 It would be presumptuous to suppose that, if only the extant documentation were better, we could trace the Felbens' and Walchens' ancestry to the ninth century. In short, although Tellenbach and the Freiburg School have enormously increased our understanding of the noble elite of the Carolingian empire and its role in the formation of the successor kingdoms and principalities that emerged from the ruins of Charlemagne's realm, the origins of minor noble lineages like the Felbens and Walchens remain largely unknown. An investigation
"Bouchard, "The Origins of the French Nobility: A Reassessment," AHR, 86 (1981): 528; Werner, "Untersuchungen zur Fruhzeit des franzosischen Furstentums (9.-10. Jahrhunderts)," Die Welt als Geschichte, 18 (1958): 256-89; 19 (1959): 146-93; 20 (1960): 87-1 19; and Duby, "Lignage, noblesse et chevalerie au XIIe sihcle dans la region mkonnaise: Une rkvision," Annales, e'conomies, socie'tb, civilisation, 27 (1972): 803-23. Duby's article has been translated by Postan; "Lineage, Nobility, and Knighthood: The MPconnais in the Twelfth-Century-A Revision," The Chivalrous Society, 59-80.
"Monumenta historica ducatus Carinthiae, ed. August von Jaksch (1904; reprint edn., Klagenfurt, 1978): vol. 3, pp. 188-90, no. 488. On the origins of the Spanheimer, see Dopsch, "Die Grafen von Lebenau," Dm Salzfas: Heimatkundliche Zeitschnyt des Historischen Vereins Rupertiwinkel, new ser., vol. 4, pt. 2 (1970): 3340. Two other men who made fortuitous marriages were Margrave Azzo of Este, who married the sister of the last Welf in the male line and whose son, Welf IV, continued the "Welf" lineage, and Frederick, the nephew of Archbishop Frederick I of Salzburg (95&91), who married a Swabian heiress and became the ancestor of the Hohenstaufen. On the latter, see Hansmartin Decker-Hauff, "Das staufische Haus," Die Zeit der Staufer: Geschichte-Kunst-Kultur (Stuttgart, 1977), 33943.
''Fenske, Adelsopposition und kirchliche Reformbewegung im ostlichen Sachen: Entstehungund Wirkungdes sachsischen Widerstandes gegen dm salische Konigtum wahrend des Investiturstreits, Veroffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts fur Geschichte, vol. 47 (Gottingen, 1977), 24146. Another example is Wiprecht of Groitzsch, who was enfeoffed with Meissen in 1123. Ibid., 255-64.
"Dopsch, Geschichte Salzburgs, pt. 1, pp. 393-96.
of their origins would undoubtedly alter the present view of the almost caste-like structure of the German nobility between the ninth and twelfth centuries and the perception that the Carolingian order survived in Germany until the Investiture Contest.
KARLSCHMID HAS STUDIED THE CHANGE in structure of the aristocratic kindred, and the change in the nobility's self-consciousness, during the Saxon and Salian periods. In "Welfisches Selbstverstandnis," perhaps his most brilliant article, he analyzed how the twelfth-century Welfs, who were eager to learn more about their ancestry, could have overlooked their famous ninth-century West Frankish relatives, including the Welf kings of Burgundy, or forgotten that Judith and Hemma, the daughters of the first known Welf, had been married to two Carolingian monarchs, Louis the Pious and Louis the German. The Welfs remembered instead Eticho and his son Henry with the Golden Plough, who established the family's lordship in Swabia around 900.29
Bloch thought such ignorance indicated that the nobility, which he defined as a hereditary, legally privileged social class,30 did not exist before the twelfth century. But Schmid attributed both the nobility's interest in and ignorance about its ancestry to a fundamental change in noble self-consciousness and family structure that occurred around 1000.During the Carolingian and early Ottonian periods, the nobility was organized, according to Schmid, in amorphous sips composed of men and women, both important and insignificant, who could claim kinship, however remote, with a powerful magnate. The kinship system was not patriarchal; enates-that is, maternal relatives--could be more important than agnates-kin related patrilineally-if the enates were more distinguished in their ancestry, wealth, and social position. Special emphasis was placed on relatives of royal blood because proximity to the royal house raised a sip's status and chances for advancement. As a member of the Freiburg School, Schmid emphasized that the gain or loss of royal favor was a major factor in the formation and dissolution of sips. Since individuals had only one name and since such names could be inherited from maternal as well as paternal ancestors, the attempts by modern scholars and genealogists to identify and label specific sips on the basis of distinctive names-for example, the Sighardinger-are, Schmid concluded, simply an anachronistic effort to impose a patrilineal family structure on people who did not think in such terms.
"Schmid, "Welfisches Selbstverstandnis," in Fleckenstein and Schmid, eds., Adel und Kirche: Gerd Tellenbach zum 65. Geburtstag (Freiburg, 1968), 389-416. This article has been reprinted; Schmid, Gebetsgedenken und adliges Selbstverstiindnis, 424-53. There are other examples of such selective memories. In the 1 160s Count Siboto IV of Falkenstein recalled that his mother's grandfather had been named Gerold, when he had been in fact the first Siboto. Freed, The Counts of Falkenstein: Noble Self-Consciowness in Twelfth-Century Gennany, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 74, pt. 6 (Philadelphia, 1984), 33-35. Bishop Otto of Freising thought that the Babenbergs, his lineage, were the descendants of the Frankish count Adalbert, who had been executed in 906 during the feud between the Conradins and the Old Babenbergs, but modern scholarship suggests that the Babenbergs belonged to the sip of the Liutpoldingians, the tenth-century dukes of Bavaria. Karl Lechner, Die Babenberger: Markgrafen und Herzoge von Osterreich, Veroffentlichungen des Instituts fiir osterreichische Geschichtsforschung, vol. 23 (Vienna, 1976), 3945.
30 Bloch, Feudal Society, 2: 283-85.
As office holding became hereditary in the tenth and eleventh centuries, greater emphasis was placed on agnate descent as evident in the increasing use of first names inherited in the male line in successive or alternate generations. The royal family, the only real dynasty in early medieval Europe, offered a model for the rest of the nobility. The holders of hereditary offices were able to consolidate their possessions in the area where they exercised power, and by the middle of the eleventh century they were beginning to be identified with the castles that served as the centers of their lordships. The foundation of a dynastic monastery, which served as the family burial place and which preserved the lineage's traditions, stimulated and strengthened this sense of family identity. Initially, one man often employed a number of different cognomina to identify himself, but, as the nobility's sense of belonging to specific lineages intensified in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, toponyms became fixed and turned into surnames. The great magnates adopted this practice first, but the custom gradually spread to lower social orders. The adoption of such hereditary surnames completed the trans- formation of the sips into patrilineal dynasties. The nobles of the twelfth century had such difficulties in reconstructing their ancestry because the kinship structure and self-perception of the nobility changed, not because the nobility was nonexistent before 1100.31
Schmid's work has been extremely influential, both inside and outside Germany. For instance, in examining the Capetian custom of making the king's eldest son a coruler in his father's lifetime, Andrew W. Lewis used Schmid's analysis of Henry 1's designation of Otto I as his heir in 929 as a model. Indeed, Lewis retained the German words Sippe and Geschlecht in his own analysis.32 More important, Duby, who has acknowledged his debt to Schmid in several places, employed Schmid's theory about the formation of patrilineal lineages to reinterpret his findings about the origins of the nobility of the Mi~onnais.~3
3' Schmid, "Adel und Reform in Schwaben," in Fleckenstein, ed., Investiturstreit und Reichsverfassung, Vortrage und Forschungen, vol. 17 (Sigmaringen, 1973), 295-319, "Konigtum, Adel und Kloster" and "Die Monchsgemeinschaft von Fulda als sozialgeschichtliches Problem," Fruhmittelalterliche Studien: Jahrbuchdes Instituts fiirFruhmittelaltelforschungder Universitat Munster (hereafter,FS),4 (1 970): 173-200, "Neue Quellen zum Verstandnis des Adels im 10. Jahrhundert," Zeitschnyt fur die Geschichte des Oberrheins, 108 (1960): 185-232, "Religioses und sippengebundenes Gemeinschaftsbewusstsein in friihmittelalterlichen Gedenkbucheintragen," Deutsches Archiv fur Elforschungdes Mittelalters, 2 1 (1965):
18-81, "Uber die Struktur des Adels," "Uber das Verhaltnis von Person und Gemeinschaft im friiheren Mittelalter,"FS, 1(1967): 225-49, "Welfisches Selbstverstandnis," "Zur Problematik von Familie, Sippe und Geschlecht," and Schmid and Joachim Wollasch, "Die Gemeinschaft der Lebenden und Verstorbenen in Zeugnissen des Mittelalters," FS, 1 (1967): 365405. The following articles, cited here for the first time, have also been reprinted in Schmid's Gebetsgedenken und adliges Selbstverstandnis: "Adel und Reform," "Religioses und sippengebundenes Gemeinschaftsbewusstsein," and "Uber das Verhaltnis von Person und Gemeinschaft."
32 Lewis,Royal Succession in Capetian France: Studies on Familial Order and the State (Cambridge, Mass., 198 l), 143. Oddly enough, Lewis did not cite in his bibliography the two articles that are most relevant to his thesis: Schmid, "Neue Quellen," 186-203, and "Die Thronfolge Ottos des Grossen," Zeitschnift dersavigrzy-StiftungfiirRechtsgeschichte, Germanistische Abteilung, 8 1 (1964): 80-163. The section of "Neue Quellen" that is cited here has been reprinted with an addition; Eduard Hlawitschka, ed. Konigswahl und Thronfolge in ottonisch-fruhdeutscher Zeit, Wege der Forschung, vol. 178 (Darmstadt, 197 I), 389-416. "Die Thronfolge Ottos des Grossen," has been reprinted in the same collection (pp. 417-508).
33 Freed, Counts ofFalkenstein, 3-5.
Schmid's critics have focused in large part on details rather than on substantive issues. There has been some concern about Schmid's evidence. Karl Leyser questioned whether Schmid's use of the Libn' memorkles, monastic books of remembrance, as his chief source might not have led him to overstate the sip consciousness of the early medieval nobility. There is a difference, Leyser suggested, between remembering distant kinsmen in prayer and bequeathing property to them.34 Schmid's admission that many monastic foundations were destroyed before the eleventh century by relatives of the founders who felt cheated by the donors' beneficence bears out Leyser's criticism.35 Similarly, historians have expressed doubts that the adoption of a toponymic surname indicates the development of a patrilineal family consciousness. Stormer contended that at least some of the magnates developed a sense of family identity before they consolidated their territorial lordships and built the castles that were the centers of their lordships and that provided their surnames. For instance, the Bavarian counts of Modling named the castle of Modling, which they built near Au in the 1 120s, after a village in the Chiemgau, twenty kilometers away, where they owned property. In other words, they perceived themselves as the Modlings before they built the castle. Stormer also argued that the Bavarian magnates were not the first to adopt surnames. They were well known in the area where they lived and exerted their power, and they required no further identification. It was the lesser nobles who first employed surnames in the first half of the eleventh century-a practice soon copied by the ministerial-while dynasties of comital rank adopted surnames only in the second third of the twelfth century.36 My own study of the Austro-Bavarian counts of Falkenstein indicates that noble families changed their cognomina with bewildering frequency. The counts of Falkenstein employed seven different surnames in a span of 160 years, and one individual could use several different surnames, often sim~ltaneously.3~
Leyser maintained that the only way to show that a stable patrilineal family structure developed in Germany was to demonstrate, as Duby did in the case of the Miiconnais, that the inheritance rights of other heirs were limited in favor of the eldest son.38 This happened to the daughters and younger sons of the Falkenstein counts, but, in general, Leyser's criticism is well taken. German scholars have not investigated how changes in self-perception among the nobility affected the rights of daughters and younger sons and how family strategies that restricted their inheritance rights contributed to the rapid decimation of the
34 Leyser, "The German Aristocracy from the Ninth to the Early Twelfth Century: A Historical and Cultural Sketch," Past and Present, 41 (1968): 32-34. This article has been reprinted; Leyser, Medieval Cennany and Its Neighbors, 900-1250 (London, 1982), 168-70. For Leyser's comments, see Rule and Conflict in an Early Medieval Society: Ottoniun Saxony (London, 1979), 50. Genicot repeated Leyser's criticisms; "Recherches relatives A la noblesse mkdi&vale," 64.
s5 Schmid, "Adel und Reform," 304-06.
"Stormer, "Adel und Ministerialitat im Spiegel der bayerischen Namengebung (bis zum 13. Jahrhundert): Ein Beitrag zum Selbstverstandnis der Fuhrungsschichten," Deutsches Archiv fiir Eforxhungdes Mittelulters, 33 (1977): 119-31. On the Modlings, see Gunther Flohrschiitz, "Die Vogte von Modling und ihr Gefolge," Zeitschnft fur baye-rische Landesgeschuhte, 38 (1975), 3-143.
" Freed, Counts of Falkastein, 52-57.
Leyser, "German Aristocracy," 50-51.
nobility during the High Middle Ages.39 For example, every noble family in the principality of Salzburg had either died out or entered the archiepiscopal ministerialage by 1250.40
Another issue in German historiography concerns whether the importance of paternal and maternal relatives differed in various time periods. Prinz and Stormer, employing evidence from Bavarian legal and ecclesiastical records, have argued that Schmid overemphasized the importance of enate versus agnate ties among the nobility in the early Middle Ages. According to these two historians, the fivegenealogia, aristocratic kindreds, who were assigned a double wergild in the eighth-century codification of Bavarian stem law, were agnate-affiliated groups.41 Recently, however, Alexander C. Murray has shown that thegenealogia were simply composed of individuals who had inherited, either through their father or mother, a share in an undivided pr~perty.~Z
And Stormer's study of the name-giving customs of the Bavarian nobility has demonstrated that enates continued to be important in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, particularly if the mother was an heiress.43 For example, Count Siboto IV of Falkenstein was named after his maternal grandfather, Count Siboto of Weyarn, from whom the counts of Falkenstein obtained their comital dignity, and Siboto IV named his older son Kuno after his father-in-law, Count Kuno of Modling.44 As David Herlihy has pointed out, a patrilineal family structure was imposed in the High Middle Ages on a structure that did not distinguish between agnate and enate descent, and both patterns of descent can thus be detected in the same lineage.45
Geographical location and the relative strength of royal or princely authority affected the speed of the change from bilateral kinship to patrilineal lineage. Thus, changes in family structure occurred at different times in various parts of Europe. Duby discovered that the property of the six sips in the tenth-century MAconnais, where royal and comital authority had broken down at an early date, had, by 1000, already been divided among twenty-four families.46 While in the mid-eleventh century the Swabian nobles were establishing dynastic monasteries, a key indicator of the change in family consciousness, most of the Bavarian dynastic monasteries were established only in the first half of the twelfth century.47 The best explanation
3g Freed, Counts of Falkenstein, 4549, 63-67. Also see Freed, "Diemut von Hogl: Eine Salzburger Erbtochter und die erzbischofliche Ministerialitat im Hochmittelalter," Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft fur Salzburger Landeskunde, 120112 1 (198018 1): 646-56.
40 Dopsch, Geschichte Salzburgs, pt. 1, pp. 361-67.
41 Prinz, "Bayerns Adel im Hochmittelalter," Zeitschrift fur bayerische Landesgeschichte, 30 (1967): 57-58; Stormer, "Adel und Ministerialitat," 96-112, and Friiher Adel: Studien zur politischen Fuhrungsschichte im Frankisch-Deutschen Reich vom 8. bis 11.Jahrhudert, Monographien zur Geschichte des Mittelalters, vol. 6 (Stuttgart, 1973), 44-51, 91, 212-13.
42 Murray, Germanic Kinship Structure: Studies in Law and Society in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages,
Studies and Texts, vol. 65 (Toronto, 1983), 99-108. 43 Stormer, "Adel und Ministerialitat," 112-16. 44 Freed, Counts of Falkenstein, 5 1. 45 Herlihy, "The Making of the Medieval Family: Symmetry, Structure, and Sentiment," Journal of
Family History, 8 (1983): 122.
46 Duby, "Lineage, Nobility, and Knighthood," 67.
47 Bosl, "Adel, Bistum, Kloster Bayerns im Investiturstreit," Festschrift fur Hermann Heimpel zum 70.
Geburtstagam19.September 1971,Veroffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts fiir Geschichte, vol. 3612
(Gottingen, 1972): 112146. On the reform movement in Bavaria and Swabia, see Hans Hirsch, "The
for this difference is that ducal authority was weak in eleventh-century Swabia, which became a major center of opposition to Henry IV, whereas Bavaria was in effect the Salian royal domain.48 The change in family structure occurred even later in the remote Pinzgau in the Austrian Alps, where the two leading noble lineages, the Felbens and Walchens, adopted those surnames only around 1150.49
Neither Schmid nor his critics have paid much attention to the origins of the nobles' lordships, perhaps because there has been a widespread belief among German scholars since the 1940s that nobles were entitled to rule inferiors. While nineteenth-century liberal historians traced the roots of the medieval principalities to the delegation or usurpation of royal authority, primarily comital rights,50 Otto Freiherr von Dungern argued in 1927 that the nobles had an innate right to rule. Their personal immunity from comital authority was extended to the people who lived on their domains and antedated the establishment of the Carolingian empire.51 In 1933 Theodor Mayer maintained that France was the heir of the centralized Roman state and that even the feudal anarchy of the tenth century was based in theory on the delegation of royal authority, whereas Germany had been dualistic from its inception because the nobility had exercised extensive rights of government that were not derived from the crown. The basis of the nobles' authority was their innate right to reclaim and to rule the vast wilderness areas in Germany.52 The theory of the nobility's autogenous regalian rights received its classic formulation in Schlesinger's 194 1 study of the Carolingian comital structure in Thuringia, which was largely confined to the royal domains and which did not include the nobles' own lands and people.53 The theory has been incorporated into postwar general histories of Germany. For instance, Josef Fleckenstein, a prom- inent member of the Freiburg School, wrote in 1976 that "the identification of feudalism with the rule of a noble class is . . . unsound, though it is often found in scholarly writing. In a strictly legal sense, rule by a noble class depends closely
Constitutional History of the Reformed Monasteries during the Investiture Contest," in Barraclough, trans., Mediaeval Germany, 911-1250, (Oxford, 1938), vol. 2, pp. 131-73; Hermann Jakobs, Der Adel in der Klosterreform van St. Blasien, Kolner historische Abhandlungen (hereafter, KhAbh), vol. 16 (Cologne, 1968), Die Hirsauer: Ihre Ausbreitung und Rechtsstellung im Zeitalter des Inuestiturstreites, KhAbh, vol. 4 (Cologne, 1961); Jakob Mois, Dm Stft Rottenbach in der Kirchenreform des XI.-XII. Jahrhunderts: Ein Beitrag zur Ordens-Geschichte der Augustiner-Chorherren, Beitrage zur altbayerischen Kirchengeschichte, 3d ser., vol. 19 (Munich, 1953); Schmid, "Adel und Reform," 295-319; and Stefan Weinfurter, Salzburger Bistumsreform und Bischofspolitik im 12. Jahrhundert; Der Erzbischof Konrad I. van Salzburg (I 106-1 147) und die Regularkanoniker, KhAbh, vol. 24 (Cologne, 1975).
48 Helmut Maurer, Der Herzog von Schwaben: Grundlagen, Wirkungen und Wesen seiner Herrschaft in ottonischer, salischer und staufischer Zeit (Sigmaringen, 1978), 129-217; and Max Spindler, ed., Handbuch der bayerischen Geschichte, volume 1: Das alte Bayern: Das Stammesherzogtum bis zum Ausgang des 12.
Jahrhunderts (Munich, 1967), 227-46.
49 Monumenta Boica (Munich, 1764), vol. 3, pp. 32-33, no. 94; and Salzburger Urkundenbuch, ed.
Willibald Hauthaler and Franz Martin (Salzburg, 1916), vol. 2, pp. 497-99, no. 355b.
50 See the historiographical survey in Schlesinger, Entstehung der Landesherrschaft, 1-5.
51 Dungern, Adelherrschaft im Mittelalter (1927; reprint edn., Darmstadt, 1967), esp. 46-68.
52 Mayer, "Geschichtliche Grundlagen der deutschen Verfassung: Festrede gehalten bei der
Reichsgriindungsfeier am 18. Januar 1933," Schnlten der Hessische Hochschulen, Universitiit Giessen,
vol. 1 (Giessen, 1933). This was translated by Barraclough; "The Historical Foundations of the German
Constitution," Mediaeval Germany, 1-33. Barraclough incorporated Mayer's ideas in his own book; The
On 'ns o Modern Germany, 6-11, 86-88.
FSchleslnger,f. Entstehung der Landesherrschaft, xi-xiii, 114-40.
on the nobility's ownership of private property and not at all on the fief. Such private property was called an allod in the Middle Ages, and it would be more accurate to speak of 'allodialism,' something quite different from feudalism."54
While Mayer and Schlesinger emphasized the differences between France and Germany,55 Werner, who has consistently stressed the common features in the French and German heritage, extended the concept of the autogenous lordship to Merovingian Gaul. Werner stated: "It is clear that the Roman senatorial nobility at least was there before the Merovingian king and hence before kingship. It is simply impossible to derive its rights from the former rights of the Germanic king. . . . This throws new light on the dualism of the new state. On the one hand, there was an attempt to restore as far as possible the Roman governmental structure. . . . On the other hand, we find episcopate and king, powerful Gallo-Romans and Merovingians, as partners from the start, both having a power not to be underestimated. Rule over the inhabitants of the private estates of the potentes was no more disturbed than it had been in Roman times. . . .Anyone who wants to find autochthonous noble rights will find them here earlier and better documented than anywhere else."56 Werner has substituted a Roman for a Germanic origin of the nobility's autogenous rights.
The theory of the nobility's innate right to rule never gained universal acceptance. For example, in an article published in 1949, Otto Stolz maintained that territorial supremacy (Landeshoheit) did not develop in Upper Bavaria, Salzburg, and the Tyrol from a complex of private estates owned by nobles but was derived from ducal and comital authority supported by a territorial base.5' In recent years the most important critics of the theory of autogenous lordships have been Mitterauer and Peter Feldbauer, who have traced the origins of the nobles' lordships to their possession of counties, the reclamation of royal forests, and, above all, the exercise of advocatorial rights over ecclesiastical immunities. For instance, Mitterauer showed that the basis of the Falkenstein lordship of Hernstein was five royal hides that Emperor Henry I1 granted to Tegernsee in 1020 and that Siboto IV's great-grandfather, Patto of Dilching, usurped as the abbey's advo- cate.58 It is worth noting in this regard that Mayer's principal evidence for the
54 Fleckenstein, Early Medieval Germany, 88. For similar views, see Alfred Haverkarnp, Auforuch
und Gestaltung Deutschland 1056-1273, Die neue deutsche Geschichte (Munich, 1984), vol. 2, pp.
55 Schlesinger wrote: "Im Westen mag die Durchfiihrung der staatlichen Amter~r~anisation
gelungen sein, denn hier unterrnischte sich der gerrnanische Erobereradel mit der grundbesitzenden
provinzial-romischen Aristokratie, die die Einordnung in das Amterwesen gewohnt war. Dem Osten
blieb sogar der Begriff des Arntes frernd." Entstehung der Landesherrschaft, 120.
56 Werner, "Important Noble Families," 14445.
57 Stolz, "Das Wesen der Grafschaft im Raume Oberbayern-Tirol-Salzburg," Zeitschrift fur bayerische
Landesgeschichte, 15 ( 1949): 68-1 09.
58 Feldbauer, Der Herrerutand in Oberosterreich: Ursprunge, Anfange, Fruhformen, Sozial- und
wirtschaftshistorische Studien (hereafter, SWhS) (Munich, 1972), esp. 188-205; Feldbauer,
Herrschaftsstruktur und Standebildung: Beitrage zur Typologie der osterreichischen Lander am ihren
mittelalterlichen Grundlagen, volume 1: Herren und Ritter, SWhS (Munich, 1973), esp. 9-16; and
Mitterauer, "Formen adeliger Herrschaftsbildung im hochmittelalterlichen Osterreich: Zur Frage der
'autogenen Hoheitsrechte,'" MitteilungendesIrutituts fur osterreichische Geschichtsforschung, 80 (1 972): esp.
292-93. Mitterauer wrote the introduction to Herrschaftsstruktur und Stdndebildung. For a critique of
Mitterauer's views about the origins of the ministerials' lordships, see Herwig Wolfram, "Zisterziens-
significance of forest reclamation in the formation of lordships was a charter that Archbishop Frederick I of Salzburg (958-91), who started the colonization of the Pongau, forged and that Emperor Otto I1 confirmed. Salzburg's subsequent territorial supremacy in the Pongau was based on its jurisdiction over this forest.59 That an archbishop, an "official" of the imperial church, reclaimed a forest without royal authorization hardly proves, however, that every noble had an innate right to do the same thing, and that Archbishop Frederick sought royal confirmation of his actions is surely significant. It is one thing to say that the nobles were perceived as having an inherited charisma that qualified them to rule over others; it is another to assert that the nobility could exercise authority legally without any higher authorization (that they did is another matter).
Finally, there is the bothersome fact that much of the discussion of the German nobility's innate right to establish lordships has focused on areas inhabited by Slavs. For example, Schlesinger discussed the Slavs who lived in central Germany, particularly in the Ottonian marks along the Elbe and Saale Rivers, but he minimized their influence on the subsequent history of the area. "One must start," he wrote, "with the mixture of German and Slavic elements in examining the constitution of the marks. Although the Germans were only a small minority, they were the lords of the land and were, in addition, the bearers of a far superior culture."60 In his preface to the 1964 edition of Die Entstehung der Landesherrschuft, Schlesinger conceded that "the real difference between the eastern marks and the old German territories must be sought in the presence of a broad stratum of Slavic inhabitants. Their constitution needs to be investigated. . . . In 1941 I may perhaps have overestimated Avar, Viking, and even Frankish influences."61 I cannot help but wonder whether German feelings about the Slavs in general and the political atmosphere in the 1930s and 1940s in particular contributed, consciously or not, to the popularity of the theory of the nobility's autogenous rights. In short, underlying the theory of the noble domination of medieval society is the usually unspoken assumption that nobles had an innate right to establish lordships without any formal authorization. But is that true?
KARL BOSL, WHO IS BEST KNOWN for his exhaustive study of the imperial ministerialage (Reichsministerialitat),a topic he began investigating in 1943, has repeatedly tried to explain why the ministerial estate formed only in medieval Germany and why the rigid social structure that produced it survived so long east of the Rhine.62 Twelfth-century Germans were already aware that their social
ergriindung und Ministerialitat am Beispiel Zwettls," Jahrbuch des Vereim fur Landeskunde van
Niederosterreich, 46147 (1980181): 17-39.
59 Salzburger Urkundenbuch, 56-64, no. 34; 103-06, no. 57. See Mayer, "The Historical Foundations
of the German Constitution," 22-24.
60 Schlesinger, Entstehung der Landesherrschft, 240, 210-42.
61 Ibid., xvi.
62 Bos~, "Die Reichsministerialitat als Element der mittelalterlichen deutschen Staatsverfassung im
Zeitalter der Salier und Staufer," in Mayer, Adel und Bauern, 74-108, and Die Reichministerialitat der Salier und Staufer: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des hochmittelalterlichen deutschen Volkes, Staates und Reiches,
structure was unique. In 1163 a monk of the Alsatian monastery of Eberheim- miinster, who may very well have been a ministerial himself, wrote that, after Julius Caesar had defeated the Gauls, he rewarded the Germans who had assisted him by granting their princes the rank of senators and giving the lesser knights Roman citizenship. Before leaving for Rome, Caesar assigned the knights to the princes but stipulated that the princes were to be lords and defenders of the knights and were not to treat the knights as slaves and servants. Hence, the chronicler explained, the German knights, unlike those of other lands, were called servants of the royal fisc and princely ministerials.63
The tale is, first of all, an attempt to explain the restructuring of German noble society during the Hohenstaufen period. In 1180 Frederick Barbarossa recog- nized the rights of the Reichsfurstenstand, the tenants-in-chief of the crown.64 The other counts, untitled noblemen (Freiherren), and powerful ministerials (such as the Bolanden and Liechtensteins), who had their own vassals and who exercised regalian rights in a territory they held in fief from the Reich or from an imperial prince, formed the estate of the lords (Hewenstand). But the differences between lords of noble and ministerial ancestry were not forgotten. The remaining noble lineages (if they had not died out or become ministerials as was the case in the principality of Salzburg), the great number of ministerials, and the vassals of the lords formed the estate of the knights. How rapidly these changes occurred depended in part on proximity to the French border-for instance, the ministerialage disappeared more rapidly in Brabant than in Guelders-and on the strength of the prince. The result was enormous variations in social structure, even between neighboring principalities, depending on local conditions. For example, both the archbishops of Salzburg and the dukes of Styria were strong princes, but
Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Schriften, vol. 10 (Stuttgart, 1950-51). Bosl has been a very prolific author. His most important articles, at least from the perspective of this article, are "Freiheit und Unfreiheit: Zur Entwicklung der Unterschichten in Deutschland und Frankreich," Vierteljahresschnft fur Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte (hereafter, VSWg), 44 (1957): 193-219, "Das ius ministerialium: Dienstrecht und Lehnrecht im deutschen Mittelalter," VortrageundForschungen, 5 (1960): 51-94, "Ober soziale MobilitPt in der mittelalterlichen 'Gesellschaft': Dienst, Freiheit, Freizugigkeit als Motive sozialen Aufstiegs," VSWg, 47 (1960): 306-32, and "Vorstufen der deutschen Konigsdienstmann- schaft: Begriffsgeschichtlich-prosopographische Studien zur fruhmittelalterlichen Sozial- und Ver- fassungsgeschichte," VSWg, 39 (1952): 193-214, 289-315. These articles and others, including Bosl's 1943 piece "Die Reichsministerialitat," have been reprinted in Bosl, Fruhformen der Geselkchaft im mittelalterlichen Europa: Azlsgewahlte Beitrage zu einer Strukturanalyse der mittelalterlichen Welt (Munich, 1964). All citations will be to this edition. In addition, see Europa im Aufbruch: Herrschaft-Geselkchaft- Kultur vom 10. bis zum 14.Jahrhundert (Munich, 1980), Die Gesellschaft in der Geschichte des Mittelalters (Gottingen, 1966), Die Grundlagen der modernen Gesellschaft im Mittelalter: Eine deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte des Mittelalters, 2 pts., Monographien zur Geschichte des Mittelalters, vol. 4 (Stuttgart, 1972), and Mensch und Gesellschaft in der Geschichte Europm (Munich, 1972). Sylvia L. Thrupp translated "Uber soziale Mobilitat"; "On Social Mobility in Medieval Society: Service, Freedom, and Freedom of Mobility as Means of Social Ascent," in Thrupp, Early Medieval Society (New York, 1967), 87-102. Reuter has translated chapter 5, part 3 of Grundlagen der modernen Gesellschaft; "'Noble
unfreedom': The Rise of the Ministenales in Germany," The Medieval Nobility, 291-31 1.
6%hronicon Ebersheimense, ed. Ludwig Weiland, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, vol.
23 (Hanover, 1874), 432.
64 For information about the formation of the Reichsfurstenstand, see Julius Ficker, Vom
Reichsfurstenstande, ed. Paul Puntschart, 2 vols. (1861-1921; reprintedn., 1984). Fritz Walter Schonherr
provided an extremely useful summary and critique of Ficker's complex and incomplete book; DieLehre
vom Reichsfurstenstande (Leipzig, 19 14).
a powerful Herrenstand developed in Styria, which was composed in 1300of three families of noble status and twenty-two of ministerial rank, because the Habsburg dukes were too preoccupied with imperial politics to profit from the extinction of lordly dynasties. In contrast, no Herrenstand formed in Salzburg because the archbishops focused their attention on the principality and acquired the lordships of families that died 0~t.65
Second, the monk's tale reveals, as Bosl has pointed out, the ministerials' proud awareness of their importance and their embarrassment about their servile origins.66 That embarrassment persisted until the twentieth century. In the 1920s, German scholars reluctantly accepted that the ministerials had been of servile origin and that service had been-the major factor in their rise, but only after numerous attempts to prove the contrary had failed.67 Bosl believed that the formation of the ministerial estate was part of a recurring pattern in German history. Pre-Carolingian Germanic society had been characterized by its rigid division between a charismatic nobility and a subservient peasantry. The nobles had viewed service as incompatible with their status as free men. The Germanic chieftains, including the Merovingians, had thus been forced to turn to the lower strata for retainers, for instance, the Merovingian puem' rep, antrustions, vassals, and the Carolingian imperial aristocracy. Because service ennobled, a service nobility-the noblesse de robe is a later example-appeared beside the Gallo-Roman senatorial aristocracy and the Germanic stem nobility, and the three groups gradually coalesced.68
This archaic (one of Bosl's favorite words)69 social structure survived longer in Germany than in France because of France's Gallo-Roman and more deeply rooted Christian heritage, which stressed the virtues of service and fidelity to a superior. Indeed, in his comparative study of Italian, French, German, and Slavic society and culture between the tenth and fourteenth centuries, Bosl presented Germany as an example of the seignorial model.70 German nobles continued to view any form of subordination, no matter how honorable or profitable, as demeaning. For instance, the twelfth-century Welfs were extremely proud of their ancestor Eticho, who had refused, allegedly, to speak to his son Henry with the Golden Plough after the latter had paid homage to the emperor, his brother-in-
65 Freed, "The Origins of the European Nobility: The Problem of the Ministerials," Viator,7 (1976): 228-33. In addition to the works cited there, see Dopsch, "Ministerialitat und Herrenstand in der Steiermark und in Salzburg," Zeitschnj des historischen Vereines fur Steiermark, 62 (1 97 1): 2 1-3 1, and "Probleme standischer Wandlung beim Adel Osterreichs, der Steiermark und Salzburg vornehmlich im 13.Jahrhundert," in Fleckenstein, ed., Herrschaft und Stand: Untersuchungen zur Sotialgeschichte im
13. Jahrhundert, Veroffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts fiir Geschichte, vol. 51 (Gottingen, 1977), 2 1944; and Feldbauer, Herrenstand in Oberosterreich, and Hmschaftsstruktur und Standebildung. 66 Bos~,Europa im Aupruch, 214. Also see Wolfram, "Zisterziensergriindung und Ministerialitat,"
67 Freed, "Origins of the European Nobility," 215-222.
68 BosI, "Vorstufen der deutschen Konigsdienstmannschaft," 238-55.
69 See, for example, Bosl, Europa im Aupruch, 15-16. Also see the titles of the various sections and
subsections in Grundlagen der modernen Gesellschaft: "Die archaische Ganzheit und der archaische
Mensch" (I1,3);"Christentum und Kirche im Aufbau der archaisch-feudalen Gesellschaft und Kultur"
(IV, 3); and "Die Verwandlung der archaischen Gesellschaft durch soziale Mobilitat und gesellschaft-
lichen Aufstieg" (V).
70 BosI, Eurcpa im Aupruch, 192.
law, in order to obtain the lordship of Ravensburg. After hearing the tale, Duke Henry the Black of Bavaria is said to have sought Eticho's grave and to have built a church on the site.71 Consequently, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the German magnates, including the king, had to seek their bailiffs, household officials, administrators, and warriors, as the Merovingians and Carolingians had done earlier, among the servile population. Specifically, they turned to the very lowest stratum of the peasantry, the semiproprii, the serfs who did not possess their own tenures but who worked daily in a lord's household or on his demesne. These unattached serfs had daily personal contact with the lord they served and were at his complete disposal. Most important, unlike the semi casati, the serfs who had their own tenures, the semi proprii had freedom of movement, crucial according to Bosl, to upward social mobility in medieval society. Significantly, Bosl asserted that the class of the semi proprii, from which the German ministerials were recruited, was far larger in Germany than in France, where the servile population was more homogeneous. By the middle of the eleventh century, the rights of this new servile elite had already been codified, for example, in the famous ministerial code of Bamberg. Functionally, by the twelfth century the ministerials were nobles, but legally they remained serfs-what Bosl called "noble unfreedom" (adelige Unfreiheit), the peculiar situation that is reflected in the myth recounted by the
monk from Eberheimmiinster.72
Bosl has elaborated on the work of Hans Kuhn and Frantigek Graus to explain why the French, unlike the Germans, did not perceive an incompatibility between freedom and service. Kuhn maintained that the cornitatus described by Tacitus, composed of freemen willing to fight until their death for their lord, was not a universal institution among the Germanic tribes. The German chieftains dis- trusted the well-born as potential rivals and preferred a servile retinue, a practice the Germans borrowed from the Celts, the original inhabitants of northern Europe.73 Graus argued that fidelity was not a Germanic virtue but a biblical ideal promoted by the church to strengthen royal authority in the early Middle Ages.74 Bosl concluded that the French nobles, influenced by deeply rooted Celtic and Christian concepts of fidelity and service to a superior, were more inclined to serve and to obey than their more recently Christianized German counterparts, the heirs of a purer Germanic tradition.75 The process that played itself out in the Frankish realm in the early Middle Ages repeated itself, therefore, in Germany between the tenth and thirteenth centuries.
71 Annalists Saxo a. 741-1139, ed. Georg Waitz, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, vol.
6 (Hanover, 1844), 764.
72 Bosl employed the tern1 "noble unfreedom," for example, in Europa im Aufbruch (p. 205) and in
Grundlagen der modernen Gesellschaft (p. 190). See his "Freiheit und Unfreiheit," 180-203, "Das ius
ministerialium," 301-08, and "Uber soziale Mobilitat," 169-79. For the text of the Dienstrecht of
Bamberg, see Wilhelm Altmann and Ernst Bernheim, eds., Ausgewahlte Urkunden tur Erliiuterung der
V assungsgeschichte Deutschlands im Mittelalter (4th edn., Berlin, 1909), no. 77.
'Kuhn, "Die Grenzen der germanischen Gefolgschaft," Zeihchnft der Sauigny-Stftungfiir Rechts- geschichte, Germanktische Abteilung, 73 (1 956): 1-83.
74 Graus, "iiber die sogennante germanische Treue," Historica, 1 (1959): 71-121.
75 Bosl, "Das ius ministerialium," 291-94, and "iiber soziale Mobilitiit," 162-67.
As I pointed out in 1976, Bosl's psychological explanation, suggestive as it may be, does not explain why a hereditary ministerialage developed between the Loire and the Rhine only in those territories that belonged to the medieval empire-for example, in Brabant and Lorraine but not in Flanders and Champagne. It is hard to see why fidelity to one's lord should have been so highly esteemed on one side of a political boundary, drawn without regard for linguisitic differences, and not on the other. This suggests that there must have been political reasons for the use of the ministerials in the empire.76
The circumstances surrounding the formation of the ministerialage of the archbishops ~f Salzburg are fairly clear. The tenth-century archbishops needed men to repel the Magyars, to supply the military demands of the crown (in 980181 Otto I1 ordered Archbishop Frederick I to send seventy heavily armed cavalrymen to Italy), and to participate in the monarchy's efforts to curb the autonomy of the dukes of Bavaria. At the same time the gradual dissolution of the sips, which Schmid described, made it increasingly difficult for the archbishop to find sufficient warriors among his own distant kinsmen. The problem was compounded in the case of Salzburg because the emperors deliberately selected non-Bavarians as archbishops in the eleventh century, when the duchy was under direct royal control. By 1050 the archbishop's servile retainers formed a quasi-hereditary estate. Compared to tenth-century France, Bavaria was remarkably stable in the Saxon and early Salian periods. Even the Magyar incursions lasted only half a century, and there were long truces between the raids. There was little room under such circumstances for a radical realtering of society. The major period in the rise of the servile elite was the era of the Investiture contest, when the archbishops spent long periods in exile. During these years the ministerials adopted surnames and formed into lineages, and ministerialis became the standard designation for members of the estate in the 1120s. Still, the rapid advance of the proto- ministerialage during the Investiture Contest should not obscure the fact that the archbishops had been in firm control until 1077 and that Archbishop Conrad I (1 106-47) restored order quickly in the archdiocese after he returned from exile in 1121.77
Although Bosl is undoubtedly correct in stressing the stability of German society, I object to labeling it as "archaic" in contrast to a "modern" French society,7* though I confess to using the word "archaic" myself.79 Such terminology strikes me as another manifestation of Germany's national inferiority complex. Nineteenth-century scholars wondered why medieval Germany, unlike France,
76 Freed, "Origins of the European Nobility," 240.
77 Dopsch, Geschichte Salzburgs, pt. 1, pp. 254-73; Freed, "Diemut von Hogl," 585-90,636-38, and "The Formation of the Salzburg Ministerialage in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries: An Example of Upward Social Mobility in the Early Middle Ages," Viator, 9 (1978): 67-102; Spindler, Handbuch der bayenkchen Geschichte, 2042 1,22746; and Kurt Zeillinger, Erzbischof Kond. won Salzburg 11 06-1 147, Wiener Dissertationen aus dem Gebiete der Geschichte, vol. 10 (Vienna, 1968). There was a comparable development in the diocese of Freising; Flohrschiitz, "Die Freisinger Dienstmannen im 10. und 11. Jahrhundert," Beitrage zur altbayerischen Kirchengeschichte, 25 (1967): 9-79.
78 Bosl, "Das ius ministerialium," 320.
7g Freed, "Origins of the European Nobility," 240.
failed to achieve national unity; Bosl is asking the same question in another form. Why did Germany fail to develop a "modern," French-style, feudal structure, which in France provided the framework for the development of the nation-state? Historians have an obligation to explain the similarities and differences in political and social development in France and Germany. But why are we to assume that the French model was necessarily "better"? Such an interpretation presupposes that the unification of Germany was the ideal political solution for the problems of Central Europe.
A more profitable approach is to compare the social structures of different French and German territories without labeling one as "better" than the other. Let me cite an example. In his revised study of the Maconnais, published in 1972, Duby demonstrated that the 105 laymen who owned property around Cluny and whose descendants were called knights in the twelfth century were the descendants of the men who had belonged to the noble sips of the tenth century.80 Miles and militiae were used occasionally in the eleventh century as terms for the free vassals of the archbishop of Salzburg, but miles became in the twelfth century the standard designation throughout southeastern Germany for a servile warrior of a minis- terial or of a noble of noncomital rank. No noble or prominent ministerial was identified as a knight in a source written within the archdiocese itself in the twelfth century. Not until the beginning of the fourteenth century in the principality of Salzburg did the few surviving lineages of prominent archiepiscopal ministerials finally adopt the designations miles or Ritter and merge with their own knights to form the Ritterstand of the later Middle Ages.81 In The Three Orders, Duby placed the constitution of the French knighthood, which established the knights as an order, in the 1170s and concluded that most knights were "the heirs, quite simply, of the milites of the Frankish army."8* But for miles to lose its servile connotations and for knights to be accepted as nobles took at least one hundred fifty years longer in Salzburg than in France.
How can we account for such terminological differences and such fundamental differences in social structure? Duby has repeatedly argued that the spread of chivalric culture, particularly the peace movement with its concept of the miles Christi, ennobled the concept of knighthood in eleventh-century France, and he cited knighthood as an example of a cultural pattern that the nobles adopted from their social inferiors.83 In contrast, Fleckenstein asserted that Frederick Barbarossa introduced French chivalric ideas, including the concept of the
so Duby, "Lineage, Nobility, and Knighthood," 59-67.
"Joachim Bumke, The Concept of Knighthood in the Middle Ages, trans. W. T. H. and Erika Jackson
(New York, 1982), 61-62; Dopsch, Geschichte Salzburgs, pt. 1, pp. 399403; Paul Kluckhohn, Die
Ministerialitat in Sudostdeutschland uom rehnten his rum Ende des dreirehnten Jahrhunderts, Quellen und
Studien zur Verfassungsgeschichte des Deutschen Reiches (Weimar, 1910), vol. 4, pt. 1, pp. 129-32;
and Otto von Zallinger, Ministeriales und milites: Untersuchungen ueber die ritterlichen Unfreien zunaechst in
baierischen Rechtsquellen des XII. und XIII. Jahrhunderts (Innsbruck, 1878). Also see my forthcoming
article, "The Concept of Knighthood in the Archdiocese of Salzburg."
''Duby, The Three Orders, 155, 293-307.
Duby, "The Diffusion of Cultural Patterns in Feudal Society," The Chiualrous Society, 17 1-77, "The
History and Sociology of the Medieval West," ibid., 85-87, "The Nobility in Medieval France," ibid.,
103-09, "Laity and the Peace of God," ibid., 123-33, and "The Origins of Knighthood," ibzd., 158-70.
Christian knight, into Germany after his marriage to Beatrice of Burgundy in 1156, whereas Joachim Bumke perceived the princes as the chief promoters of courtly culture.84 The time lag is obvious in either interpretation, but, more important, chivalry was an idea that spread not to the higher but to the lower social orders in Germany. For that reason, barriers to the social mobility of the servile elite may have persisted, regardless of chivalric culture. Chivalry, secular or religious, was an esteemed foreign import in Germany, not an indigenous product. The spread of the Enlightenment to Germany provides an analogous example.
A final problem with Bosl's work is his insistence that the source of all freedom in the Middle Ages was service and submission to a lord who granted his dependents privileges. Bosl sought-for example, in his Europa im Auforuch-the origins not only of the ministerials but also of the burghers and the free peasants within the familia.85 The subtitle of one of Bosl's most important articles is "Service, Freedom, and Freedom of Mobility as Means of Social Ascent." Hans K. Schulze has suggested that such an interpretation of medieval social development is the direct consequence of accepting Heinrich Dannenbauer's thesis that Germanic society was composed of a mass of dependent peasants ruled by powerful nobles.86 In such a world, freedom could only be a privilege granted by a gracious lord to his deserving subjects.
Bosl is not the only German scholar to harbor such views. Similar ideas about the relationship between service and freedom within medieval Christianity can be found in Tellenbach's classic book Church, State, and Christian Society at the Time of the Investiture Contest, first published in 1936. Tellenbach wrote: "The basis of this Christian conception [of freedom] was that every servitude was connected with a corresponding freedom; in short, to every 'free from' there corresponds a 'bound to.' The true content of any freedom is the very dependence of which it is the consequence, and from this derive twin conceptions of freedom-as something false, wretched and fugitive, or as a true, noble, and lofty ideal."87 Herbert Grundmann reminded his fellow historians in 1957 that the linkage of freedom with service became popular during the Third Reich and that medieval men had perceived freedom as the opposite of lordship.88 For instance, Eike von Repgow, the author of the Sachsenspiegel, the most important medieval German lawbook, argued around 1220 that there was no biblical justification for servitude; it was
84 Bumke, The Concept of Knighthood, 143-44; and Fleckenstein, "Friedrich Barbarossa und das
Rittertum: Zur Bedeutung der grossen Mainzer Hoftage von 1 184 und 1 188," in Festschri~tfur Hemnn
Heimpel, 10234 1. Fleckenstein's article has been reprinted; Arno Borst, ed., Das Rittertum im Mittelalter,
Wege der Forschung, vol. 349 (Darmstadt, 1976), 392-418.
Bosl, Europa im Aufbruch, 192-248. Also see his case study of Regensburg; Die Sozialstruktur der mittelalterlichen Residenz-und Fernhandelsstadt Regensburg: Die Entwicklung ihres Burgerturns vom 9.-14. Jahrhundert, Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, new ser., vol. 63 (Munich, 1966).
Schulze, "Rodungsfreiheit und Konigsfreiheit," 532. Also see Franz Staab, "A Reconsideration of
the Ancestry of Modern Political Liberty: The Problem of the So-Called King's Freemen," Viator, 11
(1980): 51-69. Dannenbauer's article is cited in note 3.
87 Tellenbach, Church, State, and Christian Society at the Time of the Investiture Contest, trans. R. F. Bennett
(Oxford, 1940), 4.
Grundmann, "Freiheit als religioses, politisches und personliches Postulat im Mittelalter,"
Historische Zeitschriyt, 193 (1957): 23-53.
based purely on force, imprisonment, and other illicit exercises of power.89 As Schulze has pointed out, Grundmann's admonition has gone largely unheeded.90
ASGRUNDMANN'S COMMENTS INDICATE,
many of the widely accepted theories about the medieval nobility that appear in postwar German historiography originated or became popular during the Third Reich: the noble domination of Germanic society, the existence of a Carolingian imperial aristocracy dependent on the crown, the nobility's autogenous regalian rights, and the linkage of freedom with service. Let me stress that this does not necessarily invalidate these propositions, though a reexamination may be in order, or indicate that the historians who espoused such views were Nazis or even sympathetic to that regime. After all, Dannenbauer encountered considerable difficulties in 1941 in publishing his article about the aristocratic domination of Germanic society; Lintzel reminded his colleagues at considerable personal risk in 1934 that a hisiorian had to retain his objectivity even in a period of national revival; and Tellenbach ended his Church, State, and Christian Society with the admonition that all Christians, Catholic and Protestant, draw a sharp distinction between the Kingdom of God and all earthly kingdoms.91
All historians, not only Germans, are influenced by political developments in their own time, but German historiography has always had a tendency to be zeitbedingt-to use that marvelous German euphemism-and not only in the Nazi period. As Werner pointed out, German historians may not have been Nazis themselves, but their conservative nationalistic views had much in common with Nazi ideology.92 Werner's own postwar articles about the Carolingian nobility often sound like an attempt to place the origins of the Common Market in the ninth century. And, specifically to the point of my analysis, Reuter argued that, while the history of medieval England has been "politically innocuous . . . for at least two centuries," this has not been true of German medieval history.93 For example, Baron Karl vom und zum Stein, the Prussian statesman and reformer, was the creator of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Its well-known motto, "Sanctus amor patriae dat animum," provides an insight into vom Stein's motives for promoting the publication of medieval German sources.94 The famous debate between Heinrich von Sybel and Julius Ficker in the nineteenth century about the medieval empire was in essence an argument about the respective merits of a kleindeutsch versus a grossdeutsch unification of Germany.95
Haverkamp, AuJbruch und Gestaltung, 286.
Schulze, "Rodungsfreiheit und Konigsfreiheit," 529.
'' Dannenbauer, "Adel, Burg und Herrschaft," preface to 1956 edition; Lintzel, "Zur Beurteilung Widukinds und Karls des Grossen," Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, 24 (1934), reprinted in Walther Lammers, ed., Die Eingliederung der Sachen in dm Frankenreich, Wege der Forschung, vol. 185 (Darmstadt, 1970), 81-82; and Tellenbach, Church, State, and Christian Society, 167-68. See the comments of Lammers; Die Eingliederung, x. Also see Werner, NS-Geschichtsbild, 48-49, 56-59.
'* Werner, NS-Geschichtsbild, 97.
93 Reuter, "A New History of Medieval Germany," 440.
94 David Knowles, Great Historical Enterprises (London, 1962), 65-74.
95 Heinrich Hostenkamp, Die mittelalterliche Kaiserpolitik in der deutschen Historiographic seit u. Sybel und Ficker, Historische Studien, vol. 255 (Berlin, 1934).
James J. Sheehan has asserted that all German historians, though they may disagree about everything else, "still accept the historiographical legitimacy of the settlement of 187 1 ." According to Sheehan, that historiographical tradition rests on two not necessarily reconcilable propositions: the existence of a German folk as a distinct entity and Prussia's destiny to unify it. As a recent example of an unthinking attempt to reconcile these ideas, Sheehan cited Bosl's statement that "Bismarck fulfilled the will of the Volk from above." "In response to this extraordinary statement," Sheehan commented, "We can only ask, 'What Volk?' Surely not the Reich's Polish, Danish and French minorities. And what about the supporters of the Guelph monarchy, the Saxon particularists, the south Germans and Austrians?" Ultimately, Bosl's repeated description of medieval German society as "archaic" rests on the unquestioned assumption that the unification of Germany in the form of the Second Reich was the inevitable destiny of the German folk and that the long delay in achieving that goal was the consequence of Germany's "archaic" social structure.
Furthermore, Sheehan concluded that this kleindeutsch domination of German historiography has affected the interpretation of modern German history in a number of ways-some of which are also applicable, I think, to the study of medieval Germany. First, German historians have focused on politics at the national level, which had led some of them to treat even nonpolitical topics from a political perspective and to ignore those subjects that do not readily lend themselves to such an approach. For example, studies of the economic aspects of the Reichsgrundung have dealt with the "economic dimensions of nation-building" rather than with "economic development" per se, and, until recently, modern German historians have paid virtually no attention to the history of women and family life. Second, local and regional studies have had little influence on the interpretation of national history. As Sheehan has observed, "Characteristically, this [German regional history] is history written and read by those in the locality itself; it is of interest only to people who share the experiences of the Heimat. It is difficult, therefore, to think of works on regional history which have had a major impact on German national historiography comparable to Vann Woodward's book on the American south or Georges Lefebvre's on the Nord."96
In sum, the German interest in the medieval nobility has remained essentially
political. Tellenbach studied the role of the imperial aristocracy in the formation,
governance, and dissolution of the Carolingian empire; Schmid explored the
relationship between the change in noble self-consciousness and the formation of
the territorial lordships; and Bosl examined the involvement of the imperial
ministerials in the Hohenstaufen revival. Bosl's classic study of the imperial
ministerialage is, after all, subtitled A Contribution to the History of the High Medieval
German Folk, State, and Reich. Schmid may have made us aware of the change in
family structure that occurred around the year 1000 and its ramifications for the
German constitution, but it was Duby who investigated its impact on the noble
96 Sheehan, "What Is German History? Reflections on the Role of the Nation in German History and Historiography,"Journal of Modern History, 53 (1981):3, 16, 13, 11.
family itself-namely, the preference shown to the eldest son at the expense of his sisters and younger brothers. Perhaps it is Duby's broader approach that has led American university presses to publish so many translations of his books and articles and so little of Schmid's work.
In addition, in spite of the postwar popularity of Landesgeschichte among German medievalists, I know of no German study of a specific region comparable, say, to Duby's La socie'tt am XIQt XIIe sitcles duns la re'gzon mkonnaise (1953) or Guy Devailly's Le Berry du Xe sitcle au milieu du XIIIe: Etude politique, religzewe, sociale et e'conomique (1973). Ironically, the only study of a German territory similar to the studies produced by the Annales school is Philippe Dollinger's L'holution des classes rurales en Baviire depuis la fin de l'e'poque carolingzenne jwqu'au milieu du XIIIe sitcle
(1949), but it is concerned, as the title indicates, with the peasantry alone. In German historiography, medieval Landesgeschichte remains the story of how a prince created his state by subduing rival noble families, by employing ministerials as instruments of princely authority, and by promoting land clearance and the founding of cities. We need monographs that will investigate such topics as the composition of the nobility, changes in family structure, the rights of women and younger sons, the age of marriage, the formation and rise of the ministerialage, and the causes of family extinction. This is a formidable assignment, but it is not beyond the capacity of German Griindlichkeit and Fleiss. Once these types of historical studies have been done, we may be able to make comparisons between medieval French and German societal development without labeling one structure as preferable to the other.
Above all, the time has come for medievalists as well as for scholars of modern Germany, in studies of the local as well as the national level, to abandon the primacy of politics and to accept the diversity of the German-speaking world's rich heritage in all of its aspects. The legacy of Bismarck's defunct state does not have to shape forever our understanding of a thousand years of German history.