The Peace as an instrument of social competition. Towards a non-homeostatic interpretation of political relations in the central middle ages (Western Europe, late tenth-early twelfth centuries)

De Godsvrede als instrument van sociale competitie. Naar een niet-homeostatische interpretatie van politieke verhoudingen tijdens de centrale middeleeuwen (West-Europa, tiende-twaalfde eeuw)
Start - End 
2013 - 2017 (ongoing)
Department of History
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This project focuses on the public behavior of the secular and ecclesiastical elites of the later tenth to early twelfth centuries to investigate the competitive aspects of the Peace of Godmovement. So far, scholarship has studied the rituals and symbolic gestures associated with the Peace to argue that these were instrumental in the shaping of shared attitudes with regard to maintaining social order and limiting the use of violence. However, recent studies have suggested that the use of rituals and symbolic behavior associated with the Peace could also serve a competitive purpose, aimed at creating hierarchic inequalities and advantages over one’s adversaries. Two hypotheses will be verified. The first is that ritual and symbolic arguments referring to the Peace were shaped, manipulated, and transformed by ecclesiastical and lay agents in the pursuit of advantages over their competitors. The second is that such strategies were part of a chain of ‘performances’ which represented the authority and social aspirations of the elites. If correct, these hypotheses will allow the researchers to develop an understanding of the role of symbolic behavior in political life which integrates strategies of societal stabilization with those of self-promotion into a single model of social interaction.



Phd Student(s)


Brigitte Meijns