The origins of European kingship (c. 400-525 CE). Towards a new model for military leadership in late antiquity

Start - End 
2016 - 2019 (ongoing)



This research project will argue that the fifth-century emergence of new forms of kingship was the result of a crisis of leadership structures within the imperial Roman army. The relation between the origins of European kingship and warfare has largely been treated as a non-essential problem—as if kings could be made or unmade by military victories, but the institution of kingship could a priori not have been born from war. This project indicate that kingship originated in the Late Antique West as a new form of military leadership in times of crisis, that only accidently became permanent when it proved more effective in the process of post-Roman state formation than the more rigid structures of empire. Rather than seeing the Empire struggling against external invaders, this presents a necessary alternative scenario that considers these kings responding to internal western Roman power-struggles, and in the process mimicking the behaviour of the empire's officials.