‘Public temper tantrums…frequent weeping and boisterous joy’: tears in text and ritual in Frankish kingship

Thickpenny, Cynthia Rose (2014) ‘Public temper tantrums…frequent weeping and boisterous joy’: tears in text and ritual in Frankish kingship. MRes thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3002459


In recent decades, historians have reassessed scholarly assumptions about the primitiveness of medieval emotional life. For example, Barbara Rosenwein’s exploration of emotion words, Geoffrey Koziol and Gerd Althoff’s analyses of ritual gesture in political interaction, and Philippe Buc’s study of the partisanship in medieval accounts of such rituals have revealed the complexity of medieval modes of expression. However, while theological analyses of Christian tears abound, no historian has yet undertaken an extended investigation of weeping in early medieval kingship, and its role in textual debate and political performance.

This dissertation is a study of royal weeping in the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, and also explores how Gallic and Frankish bishops used rhetoric on tears to formulate ideals for Christian kingship and put ideological pressure on their rulers. Chapters are divided into three chronological areas of inquiry. The first section examines two distinct streams of ecclesiastical thought emerging from late Roman changes in elite masculine comportment, one which criticized weeping as inappropriate, while the other praised tears as a sign of fitness for rule. The second chapter addresses Gregory of Tours’ contribution to the conceptual development of royal weeping, as the first Gallic bishop to unambiguously endorse tears as a kingly virtue. This dissertation then concludes with Emperor Louis the Pious’ penitential dethronement of 833, in which his weeping became a cause of political debate. Finally, on a methodological level, the following study demonstrates how analysis of royal tears can further illuminate the political biases of contemporary texts and the function of gestures in political ritual, while contributing to modern appreciation of the sophistication of medieval emotional expression.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Franks, kingship, bishops, weeping, ritual, penance, Merovingian, Carolingian, emotion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DC France
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Airlie, Dr. Stuart
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Miss Cynthia Rose Thickpenny
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-4723
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2013 08:13
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2013 08:15
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/4723

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