The concept of nobility in the middle ages is the focus of this volume. Embracing regions as diverse as England (before and after the Norman Conquest), Italy, the Iberian peninsula, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and the Romano-German empire, it ranges over the whole medieval period from the fifth to the early sixteenth century. The articles confront many of the central issues about the origins and nature of `nobility', its relationship with the late Roman world, its acquisition and exercise of power, its association with military obligation, and its gradual `pacification' and transformation into a more or less willing instrument of royal government (indeed, the symbiotic relationship between royal, or imperial, and noble power is a recurring theme). Other ideas historically linked to the concept of nobility and discussed here are `nobility' itself; the distinction between nobility of birth and nobility of character; chivalry; violence and its effects; and noblewomen as co-progenitors and transmitters of nobility of blood.
Dr ANNE DUGGAN teaches in the Department of History at King's College London.