Past Convictions

9780812241686: Hardback
Release Date: 9th September 2009

11 illus.

Dimensions: 155 x 235

Number of Pages: 432

Series The Middle Ages Series

University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Past Convictions

The Penance of Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingians

As much historiography as reception history, Past Convictions analyzes and explicates the production of historical narratives, the subsequent contestation and appropriation of these narratives, and the insight such activities allows us into how people understand change and its remembrance.

Hardback / £69.00

How do people, in both the past and the present, think about moments of social and political crisis, and how do they respond to them? What are the interpretive codes by which troubling events are read and given meaning, and what part do these codes play in suggesting specific strategies for coping with the world? In Past Convictions Courtney Booker attempts to answer these questions by examining the controversial divestiture and public penance of Charlemagne's son, the Emperor Louis the Pious, in 833.

Historians have customarily viewed the event as marking the beginning of the end of the Carolingian dynasty. Exploring how both contemporaries and subsequent generations thought about Louis's forfeiture of the throne, Booker contends that certain vivid ninth-century narratives reveal a close but ephemeral connection between historiography and the generic conventions of comedy and tragedy. In tracing how writers of later centuries built upon these dramatic Carolingian accounts to tell a larger story of faith, betrayal, political expediency, and decline, he explicates the ways historiography shapes our vision of the past and what we think we know about it, and the ways its interpretive models may fall short.


Chapter One. Telling the Truth About the Field of Lies
Chapter Two. The Shame of the Franks
Chapter Three. Histrionic History, Demanding Drama

Chapter Four. Documenting Duty's Demands
Chapter Five. Forgotten Memories

Chapter Six. Eloquence in Equity, Fluency in Iniquity

Epilogue: Convictions Past and Present

List of Abbreviations
Select Bibliography

Courtney M. Booker teaches history at the University of British Columbia.

"The book makes two impressive contributions to medieval history. First, Booker's careful analysis of a thousand-year-long historiographical tradition sounds a warning about the dangers of relying on reified traditions. Second, he cleverly recovers stifled voices from the ninth century, ones well worth remembering for their power in deposing an emperor. . . . An important read for anyone interested in historiography or Carolingian history."—Religious Studies Review

"Booker is not content to question prevailing interpretations of a single set of events. Instead, he revises at least two centuries' worth of ways of knowing about them. Past Convictions will have paradigmatic significance for scholars seeking to know how various interpretations assumed their adamantine forms."—Thomas F. X. Noble, University of Notre Dame