Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 August 2021
After considering what is meant by ‘political culture’, this chapter looks at how such an abstraction can be applied to the long period between c.700 and c.1500, over vast stretches of the western Eurasian landmass. The author looks for recurring themes – not grand theory, but rather elements visible in and shared by societies in the three spheres of the Latin west, Byzantium and the Islamic world in this period. Four such elements are suggested – religion, women, property and war – and the author only resorts to abstract analytic categories when they help in exploring these elements across the spheres. He suggests that alertness to them might help us find some fresh things to say about a number of long-established categories such as social hierarchy, loyalty, political legitimacy and the formation of political classes.