Lordship and Tradition in Barbarian Europe

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This book develops an hypothesis about the interaction of lordship and tradition - and about how such tradition was generated and propagated - among the peoples of barbarian Europe. It shows how orally transmitted tribal and dynastic historical tradition was crucial to the legitimization of political authority. It contributes to literary historical scholarship by showing how pre-Christian oral tradition was politically significant to early medieval aristocracies, thereby elucidating the social context in which texts like Beowulf originated and within which they must be interpreted. This first large-scale study of the subject draws on an extensive range of evidence relating to a variety of early Germanic and Celtic peoples.


“Moisl, a specialist in Old English poetry, collects many early written sources demonstrating that much early information came from the oral songs and poems of a particular tribe, and he assesses the historical reliability of these sources. . . . The book is well organized, and Moisl’s convincing argument that early European leadership derived its authority from oral tradition before the advent of literate Christian culture is easy to follow. With more than 400 notes, the 21-page bibliography is sufficient; most of the titles are in English with a few Latin and German references. . . For all libraries with collections in early medieval European political and cultural history.” – CHOICE

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword, Preface,
1.Introduction: Aim, Scope, Definition of Terms, Evidence, Methodology
2. The Germans – Historical Overview: Earliest Germans, Goths, Lombards, Franks; Anglo-Saxons
3. The Celts – Historical Overview: Gaul; Ireland
4. Conclusion
Bibliography and Index

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