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Author Cowell, Andrew, 1963-

Title The medieval warrior aristocracy : gifts, violence, performance, and the sacred / Andrew Cowell
Published Woodbridge : D.S. Brewer, 2007
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Description 1 online resource (198 pages)
Series Gallica / Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, 1749-091X ; v. 6
Gallica (Woodbridge (Suffolk, England)) ; v. 6
Contents The power of giving -- The symbolic constitution of the giving subject: William the Conqueror and Robert Guiscard -- Violence and "taking": towards a generalized symbolic economy -- Taking an identity: The poem of the Cid -- The sacred kept -- The hero, gratuity and alterity: The song of Roland -- The supplemental hero: Raoul of Cambrai -- Female integrity and masculine desires in The Nibelungenlied -- Fractured identities, and the solution of chivalry: William of Orange -- Conclusion: a new, different warrior aristocracy
Summary The process of identity formation during the central Middle Ages [10th-12th centuries] among the warrior aristocracy was fundamentally centered on the paired practices of gift giving and violent taking, inextricably linked elements of the same basic symbolic economy. These performative practices cannot be understood without reference to a concept of the sacred, which anchored and governed the performances, providing the goal and rationale of social and military action. After focussing on anthropological theory, social history, and chronicles, the author turns to the "literary" persona of the hero as seen in the epic. He argues that the hero was specifically a narrative touchstone used for reflection on the nature and limits of aggressive identity formation among the medieval warrior elite; the hero can be seen, from a theoretical perspective, as a "supplement" to his own society, who both perfectly incarnated its values but also, in attaining full integrity, short-circuited the very mechanisms of identity formation and reciprocity which undergirded the society. The book shows that the relationship between warriors, heroes, and their opponents (especially Saracens) must be understood as a complex, tri-partite structure - not a simple binary opposition - in which the identity of each constituent depends on the other two
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Description based on print version record
Subject Aristocracy (Social class) -- History -- To 1500.
Ceremonial exchange -- History -- To 1500.
Heroes in literature.
Identity (Psychology)
Literature, Medieval -- History and criticism.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 184615572X (electronic bk.)
9781846155727 (electronic bk.)
(hbk.)
(hbk.)