Getting and Giving

Julia M. H. Smith

in Europe after Rome

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780192892638
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670626 | DOI:
Getting and Giving

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter explores ways of accumulating and distributing a wide range of forms of material assets. The first part identifies places where wealth and power tended to cluster, situates them within geographical networks, and comments on their relationship to the polities in which they lay. It then explores ways of accumulating and distributing wealth within early medieval economies, and notes ways in which kings and others took advantage of them. It notes shifting patterns of commerce, and their relationship to other forms of exchange. The second part of the chapter shifts focus from places to people, and from topographical to social networks. It addresses gift giving and patronage as strategies which were central to the ways in which early medieval lords and rulers used their resources to build and maintain their power. Finally, it argues that material wealth helped organize relationships between the human and the supernatural, and that its use offers insights into early medieval cosmologies.

Keywords: material assets; wealth accumulation; wealth distribution; social networks; gifts; patronage

Chapter.  13545 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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