Highlights from Carnegie PhD Scholars’ Gathering 2022
Project Title: The influence of Frankish law on Anglo-Saxon legislation.
The prevailing interpretation of English-Continental relations in the Early Middle Ages sees late Anglo-Saxon England (c. 900-1066) as an indirect heir to Carolingian Francia (c. 750-900), a realm which at its height under Charlemagne spanned over one million square kilometres of Western Europe. Despite this, no historian yet has assessed comprehensively whether and how Frankish written law influenced Anglo-Saxon legislation. This is a critical oversight in the scholarship of the Early Middle Ages as it greatly limits our understanding of the development of early English government and society, the relationship between England and continental Europe, and the origins of common law.
My project aims to address this gap by systematically comparing Frankish and Anglo-Saxon legislative texts in terms of their substance, style, structure, and ideology. Where similarities appear, I will incorporate extra-legislative evidence for Frankish-Anglo-Saxon connections (for example the distribution of manuscripts or narrative sources suggesting diplomatic links) to determine where influence is the best explanation. In doing so my project will provide a clearer picture of the probable nature and extent of Frankish legislative influence, and in turn allow us to assess its significance with respect to the growth of the English ‘state’.
Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship
University: University of St Andrews