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Knowledge of nobles from other Kingdoms

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Knowledge of nobles from other Kingdoms

Postby jmadsen » Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:42 am

I would like to know, and be pointed to some sites/literature to back this info, if possible:

How well-known would a Knight/Lord(i.e., Baron, Count)/Duke be outside of his own country?

I don't mean the "common sense" type knowledge (who the Duke of York is, or the famous marshal who sacked your city last fall), but more like whether or not the nobility of (i.e.,) Spain would recognize the noble families of Ireland, Bavaria, etc. if no one in the family was of any particular renown.

Can anyone give me a start on learning about this?

thanks!
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Postby Maedhros » Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:26 am

Well.. I shan't say I'm an expert but from the medieval chronicles I've actually read (Roberz de Clari, Geoffrois de Villehardouin, Niketas Choniates - early 13th century) the concept of a "country" wasn't at all as strong as it is now. The distinction of whether you were a Lombard, a Frenchman or an English simply didn't matter that much. Therefore distinguishing between the nobility of different countries is kind of tricky. You could be the Count of Champagne - but that need not necessarily have to mean you thought of yourself as French. Of course there was an importance in which king was your liege but the concept of nationality was pretty meaningless. The common identifying factor would be the church rather than nations. Also the way nobles married across borders and so on the nobility was an extremely disparate lot and you could find French people on high positions in England just as Germans could be powerful down in Constantinople.

I'm not sure this really answers your question but it was an attempt in making you try to think out of your modern context ;)
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Postby Ye Olde Republic » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:07 pm

So, you're saying that the current national borders we know today, were irrelevant. I wonder, in 1315*, was there a border (enforced or not) between France and Germany?

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*for example.
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Postby Maedhros » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:28 pm

Ye Olde Republic wrote:So, you're saying that the current national borders we know today, were irrelevant. I wonder, in 1315*, was there a border (enforced or not) between France and Germany?

Trevor

*for example.


They weren't irrelevant in a political context, but in a cultural context they didn't mean at all as much as they do today. Besides, both France and Germany (especially Germany) were pretty disunited during that age so speaking of them as nations at all could be pretty misleading - the borders of today shouldn't be taken as granted for how the borders were drawn by then anyhow.
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:42 pm

Well that’s a fairly complex conversation...

Maedhros basically has it down generally. Until the 15th century when the French king began really asserting his authority France was full of peers. These peers were the highest level of nobility in the kingdom. In many ways they ran almost independent realms. The king often could not make them do what he wanted politically or militarily, many had their own coinage.

Its different in England. While people may have felt a closer tie to their county/shire or village/town the king usually had a much tighter control and by the late 13th the idea of English and the English language as unification was present though I hesitate to call it nationalism as it is more propaganda employed by one king against another to motivate his men.

Borders existed, especially for authority. Kings and other leaders often came to war about these things, the war over Gascony between England and France since the 12th century a good example.

As far as how well know.... Well people often married to gain connections so that was one way and those who fought and went to tourneys was another way to become well known. Other than that I assume a country knight would not have been well known outside his country if he had not done these things, though his clothing, equipment etc would denote him such.

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Postby jmadsen » Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:55 am

thank you,

there was a lot of interesting info in there, including stuff I wasn't specifically after. When I said countries, I really was thinking more in terms of people who lived far away from one another and had no obvious connection; merely nobles from disparate places.

Let me give a more specific example of what I mean:

How likely is the scenario that a knight from Lancashire - I'll risk calling him a "squire" but probably use the term wrong, but I mean someone landed but not with what we would call a title today - could go to Italy, wander into a room full of nobles, and have someone say, "Ah, Sir Hugh! I hope your brother Richard is well..." without that person ever having met anyone from Hugh's family.

I.e., was the gossip and general knowledge in Europe thick enough that you could argue there was a sort of "Who's Who" of most country squires, minor barons, etc.?

thanks again,
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Postby Maedhros » Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:18 am

jmadsen wrote:thank you,

there was a lot of interesting info in there, including stuff I wasn't specifically after. When I said countries, I really was thinking more in terms of people who lived far away from one another and had no obvious connection; merely nobles from disparate places.

Let me give a more specific example of what I mean:

How likely is the scenario that a knight from Lancashire - I'll risk calling him a "squire" but probably use the term wrong, but I mean someone landed but not with what we would call a title today - could go to Italy, wander into a room full of nobles, and have someone say, "Ah, Sir Hugh! I hope your brother Richard is well..." without that person ever having met anyone from Hugh's family.

I.e., was the gossip and general knowledge in Europe thick enough that you could argue there was a sort of "Who's Who" of most country squires, minor barons, etc.?

thanks again,


I wouldn't think so. Had he been someone from the high nobility his coat-of-arms or name could probably be recognized in Italy even if he hailed from England but had the lesser nobility been as widely known as that the poor medieval nobles would have had to keep check of way too many people ;)
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Postby Ye Olde Republic » Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:59 pm

So in a nutshell, you had no notoriety outside of your region unless you did something to earn it? Kind of one of those "Ah, Sir Hugh, your reputation precedes you." things.....
I like reading all these topics, you may get a more honest and reliable answer than you would on Wiki.

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