Fiefs and Vassals: The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted

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9780198204589: Fiefs and Vassals: The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted
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This work offers a fundamental challenge to orthodox conceptions of feudalism and aims to challenge centuries of misconceptions about the nature of medieval social relations.

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Review:

`utterly absorbing and important. If Dr Reynolds's arguments are accepted, then most textbooks on medieval history will have to be recalled for repair like defective washing-machines ... Dr Reynolds's superb book is bound to generate much scholarly debate.' (Observer)

Offers a broad set of criteria through which to analyse the evidence, in order to establish the nature of social status and relationships...In establishing her negative conclusion, the inadequacy of the feudo-vassalic orthodoxy, she is triumphantly successful. She is also vividly persuasive in her depiction of the gradual transformation of localised societies based on a great diversity of customs. (History Today)

`this is a quietly original re-examination of the medieval world and of the feudal system in particular. "It has the austerity, compression and concentration of Sibelius's Fourth Symphony" (Stuart Airlie) (Observer)

the reader's way is greatly eased by a lucid, engaging style that avoids jargon and any attempt at deconstructive methodology. Undoubtedly it will form a watershed in our understanding of medieval society. (The Historian)

'For once the hype is worth attending to: this is a quietly original re-examination of the medieval world and of the feudal system in particular.' (The Observer)

`she clarifies this feudal business so thoroughly that it ought now to be possible for the first time to discuss it without talking nonsense. ... anyone who understands the title ought to read the book. It will be bought by university libraries.' (The Spectator)

`a book whose intellectual courage is as stirring as its range is wide and its scholarship deep. There have been none that so meticulously examines its manifestations in nearly all major medieval contexts.' (Times Literary Supplement)

Dr Reynolds pits her formidable resources of learning, subtlety and not least common sense. Her...book sets out to show how it simply is not true that medieval society was organised or even envisaged in accordance with the feudal principles at any date until long after what historians regard as their heyday...she substitutes an alternative, more modulated and so inherently more plausible model of the history of the relationships in question...This, then, is a book whose intellectual courage is as stirring as its range is wide and its scholarship deep. (The Times Literary Supplement)

Susan Reynolds gained our enduring respect in 1984 with her magisterial Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900-1300, and now with this work, her reputation will only be enhanced......Reynolds uncovers a plethora of items for further research that will keep scholars busy on important topics for a long time..... Those of us who have merely picked away at the feudal Middle Ages in our articles and books are immeasurably in her debt for this heroic effort. (Albion)

Reynolds uncovers a plethora of items for further research that will keep scholars busy on important topics for a long time ... her contribution is massive and dominating in its breadth and depth. Those of us who have merely picked away at the feudal Middle Ages in our articles and books are immeasurably in her debt for this heroic effort. (Bernard S. Bachrach, University of Minnesota, Albion)

From the Back Cover:

Fiefs and Vassals sets out to change our view of the medieval world. It offers a fundamental challenge to orthodox conceptions of feudalism. Susan Reynolds argues that the concepts of the fief and of vassalage, as understood by historians of medieval Europe, were constructed by post-medieval scholars from the works of medieval academic lawyers and that they provide a bad guide to the realities of medieval society.

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9780198206484: Fiefs and Vassals: The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted

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ISBN 10:  0198206488 ISBN 13:  9780198206484
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA, 1996
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