The Pelican History of Medieval Europe by Maurice Keen: Dot Points

Spelling: Moslem13 instead of Muslim. Is that a geographical thing (e.g. British vs American) or a generational thing?

A simple Google search returns two answers:

First, the difference in spelling is generational, with Moslem being favoured in the first half of the 20th century and Muslim being preferred these days.

Second, writer’s may have been inadvertently insulting Muslims, since the words have two different meanings. Apparently, Muslim means ‘one who gives himself to God’ (i.e. anyone who practices the Islamic religion), while Moslem (or Mozlem) means ‘one who is evil and unjust’.


‘Otto III died in 1002, aged only twenty-two; a year later Sylvester followed him.’14 What did they die of? Were they killed in the revolt?

A simple Google search returns the following results:

Otto III died from a fever, possibly smallpox whilst fleeing the rebellion. I can’t seem to find the cause of death for Sylvester II. However, most sources say ‘he died’ rather than ‘he was killed’, so presumably he died of natural causes.


Chapter 2 was as difficult to read as the ‘begets’ part of the Bible.15


Post-Carolingian feudalism was not a relationship between the lord as exploiter and tenant as the exploited, but a symbiotic ‘self-sufficing social unit’.16

‘… obedience to an authority whose decisions may be inconvenient is the usual price which the individual pays for some degree of security and social order.’

Keen, Medieval Europe, 50.

Usufruct17: Noun — The right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance.18

Benefice19: Noun — A permanent Church appointment, typically that of a rector or vicar, for which property and income are provided in respect of pastoral duties.20

Allodial21: Adjective — Free from the tenurial rights of a feudal overlord.22


‘as a result of the confusion of the ninth and tenth centuries, government had ceased to have much to do with even a rudimentary state machine. It had become part of the patrimony of powerful men. What bound this society together was not a sense of obligation to a common weal, but personal oaths of individual men to individual lords. The peace of society depended on how far these individuals were prepared to observe their promises…’23


Weal24: Noun — That which is best for someone or something. The Common Weal: The benefit or interests of all members of a country or community.25


The feudal system wasn’t identical throughout Europe.24


Oblate25: Noun — A person who is dedicated to a religious life, but has typically not taken full monastic vows.26


Becoming a serf to a monastery meant joining the family — and thus, the protection — of the dedicated saint.27


Sacerdotal28: Adjective — Relating to priests or the priesthood; priestly. Theology: Relating to or denoting a doctrine which ascribes sacrificial functions and spiritual or supernatural powers to ordained priests.29


Carolingian Renaissance: scholars endeavouring to preserve knowledge and protect classical texts.30


Occident31: Noun — The countries of the West, especially Europe and America.32


Is Chapter 4 describing the development of the Divine Right to Rule?33

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Categories: Impressions

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2 replies


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