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Aristocracies, Peasantries And The Framing Of The Early Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author develops a general contrast between the West and the East Mediterranean/ Near East which has its roots in the classical world, especially the period known as late antiquity. The eastern provinces of the Roman Empire were characterised by a disciplined aristocracy, a thriving monetary economy and densely populated countrysides. In Chris Wickhams recent magnum opus, the general weakening and impoverishment of the aristocracy that was bound up with the fragmentation of the late empire is a major theme, rightly so, and a decisive part of the transition to the early middle ages. The author proposes a hypothesis about the nature of the seventh century, and devote the remaining part of the discussion of the West to a critique of Wickhams model of the transition from Late Antiquity to the early middle ages.

Keywords: aristocracy; Chris Wickham; early middle ages; late antiquity



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