Book Series Brepols Collected Essays in European Culture, vol. 5

Loyalty in the Middle Ages

Ideal and Practice of a Cross-Social Value

Jörg Sonntag, Coralie Zermatten (eds)

  • Pages: 467 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:5 b/w
  • Language(s):English, German
  • Publication Year:2016

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55103-6
  • Hardback
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55120-3
  • E-book
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Through its unprecedented and thorough investigation into loyalty in the Middle Ages, this volume sheds new light on the structures and values of medieval society.


“Overall, this is a marvellous Festschrift paying a great tribute to an outstanding historian, Gert Melville.” (Albrecht Classen, in The Medieval Review, 16.05.27)

“(…) this is a very rich volume, which constitutes an appropriate tribute to Gert Melville’s scholarship. If this collection doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of the lack of clear definition of what modern historians perceive as loyalty, it will certainly call attention to the matter and, while proposing several interesting approaches to it, sparkle some curiosity about the theme.” (Micol Long, in Francia- Recensio, 4, 2016)

“Auf diese Weise ist ein höchst anregender Band entstanden, (…)” (Claudia Garnier, in Historische Zeitschrift, 306/1, 2018, p. 185)


Although ‘loyalty’ is in itself a relatively modern term, as a phenomenon it has long been recognised as a fundamental element of social relationships. The essays collected in this volume address the concept of loyalty as it was understood in the Middle Ages, exploring the theme of loyalty from three separate angles — the ties between individuals (such as marriage or feudal ties), the ties between individuals and groups (for example, the role of the individual in their wider family), and the ties between institutions and groups (such as monastic orders or guilds) — and questioning how, when, and why the phenomenon of loyalty first developed.

This volume, which draws together contributions from leading historians, explores how loyalty was manifested, both in public and in private, in the medieval world. Covering topics as diverse as religious orders, royal courts, and funeral customs, the essays collected here explore the interplay between loyalty and love, friendship, obedience, and justice, and question how the value of loyalty functioned both in theory and in practice across a range of social spaces. Together, these articles offer a unique new perspective on medieval society and provide a framework that also promises to be fruitful for future research.


Loyalty in the Middle Ages: Introductory Remarks on a Cross-Social Value — CORALIE ZERMATTEN and JÖRG SONNTAG

Part I: Individual Bonds of Loyalty: Friendship and ‘Treue’ Here and Hereafter

Siegfrieds verlorene Siege: Oder: Loyalität der Schwachen? Tödliche Spiele im ‘Nibelungenlied’ — RUDOLF KILIAN WEIGAND

Der loyale Freund ist eine feste Burg. Loyalität als Charakteristikum der Freundschaft späten Mittelalter — KLAUS OSCHEMA

‘Leal souvenir’ — JEAN-CLAUDE SCHMITT

Burials, Benefactions and the Bohuns: Dynastic and Monastic Loyalties in Medieval England — BRIAN GOLDING

Nos qui cum eo fuimus‘: Gefährten und Mitstreiter der franziskanischen Reformatoren im 15. Jahrhundert. Das Beispiel von Johannes Kapistran — LUDOVIC VIALLET

Part II: Political Expressions of Loyalty: Commitments as Stabilizers of Order

Schreckensherrschaft: Urteile und Bewertungen von der späten Antike bis zum hohen Mittelalter — HANS-JOACHIM SCHMIDT

The Oaths of Strasbourg (842) and their Implications in the Light of Recent Scholarship — ROSAMOND MCKITTERICK

Fides — fiducia — fedus im politischen Sprachgebrauch der lombardischen Kommunen im 13. Jahrhundert — MARIA PIA ALBERZONI

Loyalität und Illoyalität an spätmittelalterlichen Fürstenhöfen im Reich — KARL-HEINZ SPIEß

The Papacy, the French Monarchy, and Reciprocal Loyalty — DAVID D’AVRAY

Englische Ordenshäuser in der Anfangsphase des Hundertjährigen Krieges — JENS RÖHRKASTEN

Zur Loyalität interkultureller Makler im Mittelmeerraum: Christliche Söldnerführer (alcayts) im Dienste muslimischer Sultane — NIKOLAS JASPERT

Part III: Loyalty and Faith: Obedience and Pragmatism in Religious Communities

Communities of Practice and Emotional Aspects of Loyalty in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century Monasticism — STEVEN VANDERPUTTEN

Loyalty and Betrayal in Bernard of Clairvaux — BRIAN PATRICK MCGUIRE

The Religious Profession in the Order of the Canons Regular of Prémontré: A Challenge of Loyalty — BERNARD ARDURA

Divided Loyalties in Religious Orders: Structures and Patterns in Cistercian Wales and Ireland — ANNE MÜLLER

Cucullus non facit monachum? The Controversy over the Franciscan Habit in the Early Fourteenth Century — MICHAEL CUSATO

Part IV: Concluding Reflections and Perspectives

Felix Dahn’s Deutsche Treue: Loyalty and its Alternatives in the Tenth Century — PATRICK GEARY

Reziprozität und institutionelle Risikoverminderung: Soziologische Anmerkungen zur „Loyalität" — KARL-SIEGBERT REHBERG

Index of Names and Places