Days gone by and Present Society
Social Utopias in the centre Ages
Author(s): F. Graus
Source: Earlier & Present, No . 35 (Dec., 1967), pp. 3-19
Published simply by: Oxford School Press for The Past and Present World Stable WEB LINK: http://www.jstor.org/stable/649746.
Reached: 18/06/2014 09: 35
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SOCIABLE UTOPIAS IN THE CENTRE
THE SOCIAL THEORIES OF THE MIDDLE AGES HAVE FREQUENTLY AROUSED
and severalworkshavebeendevotedto all of them.
Recentlyhowever, interestin thisthemeseemsto have already been fading, and medievalistspreferto examinethe social situationof medieval gentleman or thetheoriesofthe stateput forwardby medievalwritersand thinkers. This has not really come about accidentally and is typically determined
simply by thefactthatearlierresearchwas oftenlimitedto the
thatsocialtheoriesand utopianvisionsin thepast
had also been " socially" determined,
almostbanal to us today. That seemedthatone can go no more, and workon suchgeneraltruthsseemedhardlyworththeeffort.
Nevertheless morerecentlyseveralwaysof approachinga solutionseem to
havebeenemerging. Have forexampletheresearchintothetopicof
medievalsources, the attempton the part of Frenchhistoriansto writean " histoiredes mentalit's", or the Robin the boy wonder Hood discussionin is beginningto emergeas
this kind of journal. The sociologyof materials
a branchof learningin its very own right, regardless if at presentit is only concernedwithmoderntimes. In short, increasedattention
paid to " collectiveconcepts", thatis notto thethoughts
whom are of high standingintellectually,
but for views and even
prejudices from the past that were generallywidespread. The
branchof researchhas not
yet recently been fully workedout. I personallybelieve that the most
in an analysisofthissortis a kind
thoughtsand topoi, and I wouldlike
thisherewithan example. you
* Translated from the German born by Mr. Bernard
Standring, University of
one particular I have attemptedto explain my views in greaterdetail applying Merovingian hagiographyas my case in point: F. Graus, Volk. Herrscherund Heiliger im or her Reich der Merowinger(Prague, 1965). Apart fromthe classic job of M. Bloch (see footnote55) therehave recentlybeen many excellentattemptsby historiansto encompass the complete of middle ages life and thought, approachingit in the same way because the French " Histoire entre ma mentalite", especially G. Duby and L. Mandrou, Histoirede la civilisationfrangaise
(Paris, 1958); G. Duby, L'Europe
des cathidrales1140-I280 (Geneva, 1966); T. Le Goff, Les intelectuels au moyen
dge (Paris, 1957); T. Le Goff, La civilisationde l'occidentmididval(Paris, 1964); and Ur. Mandrou, Introductiona' la England moderne Essai de psychologie historique15oo-1640 (L'& volution para l'humanit6, lii, Paris, 196I) who attemptsto provide a theoreticalbasis. For the Robin Cover discussionin Past and Present, see nos. 14 (Nov. 1958, L. H. Hilton), I8 (Nov. I960, M. C. Holt), I9 (Apr. 1961, M. H. Enthusiastic and T. C. Holt) and twenty (Nov. 196I, T. H. Aston).
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