This book is a collection of original essays on gift in the early Middle Ages, from Anglo-Saxon England to the Islamic world. Focusing on the languages of gift, the essays reveal how early medieval people visualized and thought about gift, and how they distinguished between the giving of gifts and other forms of social, economic, political and religious exchange. The same team, largely, that produced the widely cited The Settlement of Disputes in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge University Press, 1986) has again collaborated in a collective effort that harnesses individual expertise in order to draw from the sources a deeper understanding of the early Middle Ages by looking at real cases, that is at real people, whether peasant or emperor. The culture of medieval gift has often been treated as archaic and exotic; in this book, by contrast, we see people going about their lives in individual, down-to-earth and sometimes familiar ways.
Wendy Davies is Professor of History Emerita at University College London, and an associate member of the History Faculty, University of Oxford. She has wide interests in early medieval social and economic history and her books include Wales in the Early Middle Ages (1982), Small Worlds: The Village Community in Early Medieval Brittany (1988), and Acts of Giving. Individual, Community and Church in Tenth-Century Christian Spain (2007). Paul Fouracre is Professor of Medieval History and currently Head of History at the University of Manchester. With interests in the political and social history of the Franks, his publications include Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography 640-720 (with R. Gerberding, 1996), The Age of Charles Martel (2000); and, as editor, The New Cambridge Medieval History, Volume 1 (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
List of illustrations; List of contributors; Preface; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; 1. Introduction Janet L. Nelson; 2. Giving to God in the mass: the experience of the Offertory David Ganz; 3. Gifts and prayers: the visualization of gift-giving in Byzantium and the mosaics at Hagia Sophia Leslie Brubaker; 4. The use of the term 'beneficium' in Frankish sources: a society based on favours? Paul Fouracre; 5. The gifts of Wearmouth and Jarrow Ian N. Wood; 6. The settings of the gift in the reign of Charlemagne Janet L. Nelson; 7. The queen of the Franks offers gifts to the caliph al-Muktafi' Ann Christys; 8. Reciprocal gifts on Mount Athos in the tenth and eleventh centuries Rosemary Morris; 9. Compulsory gift-exchange in Lombard Italy, 650-1150 Chris Wickham; 10. When gift is sale: reciprocities and commodities in tenth-century Christian Iberia Wendy Davies; 11. Conclusion Chris Wickham; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.