Richard Broome

The period from the reign of Clovis II (639-57) to that of Louis the Pious (814-40) witnessed dramatic changes in the Frankish world, and how that world was understood by those living in it and the authors who wrote about it. In the sources of the period we can see an ongoing debate about what constituted the Frankish kingdom and what its relationship was with those on the peripheries (those we might deem 'others'), and thus what constituted the Frankish community itself. In particular the period of expansion under Charles Martel, Pippin III and Charlemagne meant the Franks came into increasingly close contact with peripheral peoples, and attempts to subjugate these peoples more directly under Frankish rule led to the development of a discourse which incorporated both ethnographic categories borrowed from Roman sources (most recently summarised in Wood, in Bately and Englert (2007)) and the concepts of rebellion and disloyalty seen most explicitly in depictions of the Saxon Wars (see Utrecht subproject 'Discourses of Inclusion and Exclusion in the Carolingian World: The Saxon Case').

At the same time, missionaries - and through them the wider Church - began showing an interest in the peoples to the east of the Rhine (Wood (2001)), especially the Frisians and Saxons. For the missionaries and those who wrote about them, the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, provided a set of categories different from those used by the Romans to classify neighbouring peoples, and even peoples on the coast of the Baltic, or in Scandinavia. In this the papacy had shown the way in its denigration of the Lombards and other enemies (see Vienna subproject 'The Popes as Cultural Brokers Between East and West in the Eighth Century'). Where historiographical sources tended to stress the political relationship between the Frankish rulers and the peripheries, hagiographers instead focussed on the dichotomy between Christians and pagans, adding a distinctive dimension to debates about community and otherness.

Academic discussion of the neighbours (near and far) of the Franks, has tended to treat them in straightforward terms either as Germanic or Slav, or occasionally, as in the case of the marauding Avars, as steppe peoples. This approach largely derives from the intellectual traditions of the nineteenth century, and is inevitably deeply influenced by nationalist rhetoric. The concept of 'German', however, did not exist in the early middle ages, nor indeed was there any understanding of the existence of a large body of Slavonic speakers, whose languages meant that they could be defined as a single linguistic group. Likewise, this categorisation overlooks the importance, particularly in the eighth century, of groups which were neither 'Germanic' nor 'Slavic', for example Aquitainians, Basques (Collins (1986)) and Muslims.

The aim of this research project is two-fold. First, it aims to examine the various ways in which authors perceived and wrote about the community they belonged to, and what they imagined this community to consist of (for example, what did they mean by the term 'Franks'). Second, it aims to dispense with the modern categorisations of Germanic or Slav, and to look instead at the discussions and depictions of non-Franks and those otherwise excluded in some way from the Frankish community, and thus of the ethnographic, Biblical and escatological resources that underpinned them. The chief sources will be the narrative histories of Fredegar (with Continuations), the Liber Historiae Francorum (Book of the History of the Franks) and Einhard's Life of Charlemagne, the early Carolingian annals, the 'political' hagiography of the seventh century (on which see Fouracre and Gerberding (1996)), and the missionary hagiography of the late eighth and early ninth centuries.

This sub-project, then, is intended to evaluate both continuity and change in views of neighbouring peoples, and the related shift in the use of classical and Biblical terminology, from the mid-seventh to the early-ninth century. It is intended to be an exercise in the study of Frankish culture and its resources, combining material that has usually been separated off into different historical and hagiographical compartments, and different chronological periods. It is also intended deliberately to override the traditional modern distinctions between Germanic and Slav.