The crisis of the twelfth century : power, lordship and the origins of European government / Thomas N. Bisson.

by Bisson, Thomas NLooking glass.

Publisher: Princeton, N.J. ; Princeton University Press, 2010.Description: xxviii, 677 pages : maps ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9780691147956; 9780691137087.Subject(s): Power (Social sciences)Looking glass | Europe -- Politics and government -- 476-1492Looking glassNote: Originally published: 2008.Note: Bibliography: pages 587-640. - Includes index.
Item type Home library Collection Class number Status Date due Barcode Item reservations
Long loan London College of Communication
Main collection
Printed books 940.182 BIS (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available 54126863
Total reservations: 0

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Medieval civilization came of age in thunderous events like the Norman Conquest and the First Crusade. Power fell into the hands of men who imposed coercive new lordships in quest of nobility. Rethinking a familiar history, Thomas Bisson explores the circumstances that impelled knights, emperors, nobles, and churchmen to infuse lordship with social purpose.

Bisson traces the origins of European government to a crisis of lordship and its resolution. King John of England was only the latest and most conspicuous in a gallery of bad lords who dominated the populace instead of ruling it. Yet, it was not so much the oppressed people as their tormentors who were in crisis. The Crisis of the Twelfth Century suggests what these violent people--and the outcries they provoked--contributed to the making of governments in kingdoms, principalities, and towns.

Originally published: 2008.

Bibliography: pages 587-640. - Includes index.

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Bisson (emer., Harvard) argues that the recognition of political crisis and governmental instability should be as associated with Europe's twelfth century as the more familiar concepts of renaissance and cultural flowering. Rejecting traditional models of the period as a time of institutional growth and royal expansion of public peacekeeping, the author presents an alternative portrait of unrelenting violence and suffering, which threatens at times to revive pejorative views of the Middle Ages long fought by medievalists. Yet Bisson is convincing in his assertion that such a study of the evolution of power is essential to understanding the past by serving as "a reflection on the social and cultural origins of European government" (p. ix). Although focused on the territorial heirs of Carolingian west Frankland, the work makes forays into the histories of Leon-Castile, England, Lombardy, Bavaria, Saxony, and Poland, with Catalonia, Bisson's own area of expertise, particularly prominent. The theme of medieval rulers' slow growth from personal, affective lordship to territorial and public rule is not a new one, but the value of this work lies more in the rich description rooted in documentary evidence explicated with sensitivity, fairness, and insight. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. C. Attreed College of the Holy Cross

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Thomas N. Bisson is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of Medieval History Emeritus at Harvard University.