After Empire: Using and Not Using the Past in the Crisis of the Carolingian World
The tenth century is an overlooked moment in European history. It has played an important role as a starting point for the national narratives of modern countries including England and Germany.
However, it is often characterised as a ‘dark age’, a ‘century of iron’ in which the structures of the Carolingian Empire (751–888) collapsed and the map of medieval Europe took shape in the rubble. By rejecting these stories of nations or chaos as starting points for this project, the researchers seek to understand the tenth century on its own terms.
‘Uses of the Past’ is an ideal theme for this project because the absence of clear administrative or legal structures in the chosen period meant that action in the present often drew authority and legitimacy from claims about the past. The ways that contemporaries chose to use or not use the past – especially the Carolingian past – can be highly instructive to the historian.