The Past Through Narratology
How to cite this chapter

Wassenaar, Jelle: Townspeople, Group Belonging, and Collective Agency in Post-Carolingian Historiography, in: Fafinski, Mateusz and Riemenschneider, Jakob (Eds.): The Past Through Narratology: New Approaches to Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 2022 (Das Mittelalter. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung. Beihefte, Vol. 18), p. 123-142.

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Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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ISBN 978-3-96822-108-3 (PDF)
ISBN 978-3-96822-107-6 (Hardcover)

Published 12.05.2022.

Jelle Wassenaar

Townspeople, Group Belonging, and Collective Agency in Post-Carolingian Historiography

Abstract This article deals with depictions of townspeople in tenth- and early eleventh-century narratives. It argues that during the tenth century the narrative function of these groups in historiography changed fundamentally. In Carolingian and earlier tenth-century narratives, towns­people tend to play largely tangential and passive roles; from around the middle of the tenth century, authors be­gan to increasingly accord agency and a more central role to townspeople. Although these mentions of townspeople in post-Carolingian histories have traditionally been ap­proached as providing a window into processes of ‘em­bryonic’ urbanisation, this paper suggests that the shift in their narrative function must also be understood in the context of the changing nature of diocesan identity pol­itics created through the dissolution of the Carolingian Empire.