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Christopher John Wickham (18 maggio 1950) uno storico inglese, docente di storia medievale presso l'universit di Oxford

d e fellow della All Souls College.

Biografia [modifica]
Wickham ha studiato al Keble College dell'Universit di Oxford, dove ottenne prima un Bachelor of Arts e poi nel 1975 divenne Doctor of Philosophy con una tesi intitolata "Economy and society in 8th century northern Tuscany". Ha passato quasi trent'anni della sua carriera all'Universit di Birmingham. Nel 2005 diventato docente di storia medievale presso l'universit di Oxford e fellow della All Souls College. Nel 1998 stato eletto Fellow della British Academy. membro sia del Partito Laburista e dei Democratici di Sinistra sposato con un'altra storica medievale, Leslie Brubaker.

Campo di studi [modifica]

La sua principale area di ricerca l'Italia medievale, e pi precisamente la Toscana e l'Italia centrale, dalla fine dell'Impero romano fino a circa il 1300. Si concentrato maggiormente negli studi della societ e dell'economia, ma anche della legge e della politica dell'area. Ha anche collaborato a progetti di ricognizione archeologica nell'Etruria meridionale. Wickham ha lavorato con un modello marxista modificato su come la societ europea cambiata dalla tarda antichit e il primo Alto Medioevo inaugurando un'analisi comparativa socio-economica in questo periodo.

Opere [modifica]
Studi sulla societ degli Appennini nell'alto Medioevo: contadini, signori e insediamento nel territorio di Valva (Sulmona), Bologna, 1982. L' Italia nel primo Medioevo: potere centrale e societ locale, Milano, 1983. Il problema dell'incastellamento nell'Italia centrale: l'esempio di San Vincenzo al Volturno, Firenze, 1985. The mountains and the city: the Tuscan Apennines in the early Middle Ages, Oxford, 1988. Land and power: studies in Italian and European social history, Londra, 1994. Comunit e clientele nella Toscana del XII secolo. Le origini del comune rurale nella Piana di Lucca, Roma, Viella, 1995, ISBN: 9788885669383 Dispute ecclesiastiche e comunit laiche: il caso di Figline Valdarno (XII secolo), Figline Valdarno, 1998 Legge, pratiche e conflitti: tribunali e risoluzione delle dispute nella Toscana del XII secolo, Roma, 2000. Economia altomedievale in Storia medievale. Roma, Donzelli, 2003. ISBN 8879894064 Framing the early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean 400800, Oxford University Press, 2005. His main area of research is Medieval Italy - and more specifically Tuscany and central Italy - from the end of the Roman empire through to about 1300. His emphasis has largely been social and economic, though he has undertaken study into the law and politics of the area as well. More generally Wickham has worked under a modified Marxist framework on how European society changed from late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, and has pioneered comparative socioeconomic analysis in this period.

In 2005 his work Framing the Early Middle Ages was published, which claims to be the first synthesis of early medieval European history since the 1920s. It is exceptional for its use of hitherto unincorporated evidence from both documentary and archaeological sources as well as its bold use of comparative methods and rejection of national narratives. It has been recognised by various prizes, including the Wolfson History Prize in 2005, the Deutscher Memorial Prize in 2006 and the American Historical Association awarded its James Henry Breasted Prize in January 2007. He has recently just edited Marxist History Writing for the Twenty-First Century, a volume that sees various academics discuss the status and profile of Marxist historiography, and has now produced a general history of early medieval Europe, published by Penguin, which examines cultural, religious and intellectual developments of the period not covered in his previous socio-economic study.

Economy and society in 8th century northern Tuscany (1975) Early medieval Italy: central power and local society, 4001000 (1981) The mountains and the city: the Tuscan Apennines in the early Middle Ages (1988) City and countryside in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy: essays presented to Philip Jones edited by Trevor Dean and Chris Wickham. (1990) Land and power: studies in Italian and European social history, 4001200 (1994) Community and clientele in twelfth-century Tuscany: the origins of the rural commune in the plain of Lucca (1998) Courts and conflict in twelfth-century Tuscany (2003) Framing the early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean 400800 (2005) Marxist History-Writing for the Twenty-First Century (2007; editor) The Inheritance Of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 (2009)

[edit] Recent major articles

'Un pas vers le moyen ge' in Les campagnes de la Gaule la fin de l'Antiquit (ed. P. Ouzoulias et al.), (Antibes, 2001) pp. 55567 'Medieval studies and the British School at Rome', Papers of the British School at Rome. Vol lxix (2001) pp. 3548 'Paludi e miniere nella Maremma toscana, XI-XIII secoli' in Castrum 7 (ed. J.-M. Martin), (Rome, 2001) pp. 45166 (with E. Fentress), 'La valle dell'Albegna fra i secoli VII e XIV' in Siena e Maremma nel Medioevo (ed. M. Ascheri), (Sienna, 2001) pp. 5982 'Rural economy and society' in Italy in the early Middle Ages (ed. C. La Rocca), (Oxford, 2001) pp. 11843 'Society' in The Early Middle Ages (ed. R. McKitterick), (Oxford, 2001) pp. 5994 'Una valutazione sull'archeologia medievale italiana', Quaderni storici. Vol cvi (2001) pp. 295301 'Comunidades rurales y seorio debil: el caso del norte de Italia, 1050-1250' in Comunidades locales y poderes feudales en la Edad media (ed. I. lvarez), (Logroo, 2001) pp. 395415 Chris Wickham insegna Storia medievale presso lUniversit di Oxford, autore di saggi sullItalia medievale, in particolare sulla Toscana e lAbruzzo, fra il VI ed il XII secolo. Tra i suoi libri pi recenti: Legge, pratiche e conflitti, Roma 2000; Le societ dellalto medioevo. Europa e Mediterraneo. Secoli V-VIII,Viella, Roma 2009 (ed. orig. Oxford 2005); The Inheritance Of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000, London 2009.

Framing the early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean 400800
Framing the early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean 400800 (2005) is a history book by English historian Christopher Wickham at the University of Oxford. It is a broad history of the period between the end of the Roman Empire and the transition to the Middle Ages, often called Late Antiquity. The book won the 2005 Wolfson History Prize, the 2006 Deutscher Memorial Prize, and the 2006 James Henry Breasted Prize from the American Historical Association. According to Chris Wickham's website,[1] the book will "lead into a general study of the early middle ages for Penguin books." This book, titled The Inheritance Of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000, was published on March 24, 2009.[2] New Left Review 51, May-June 2008 Assessing Chris Wickhams sweeping historical survey, Framing the Early Middle Ages, Brent Shaw questions linear narratives of a transition from Roman Empire to feudalism. What conclusions might derive from alternative analytical categoriesmarkets, wars, modes of belief?


Transformations of the Early Mediterranean World The impressive physical bulk of a work of history sometimes reflects the enormity of the problem, sometimes the demand for a grand new overview, but often the simple majesty of the narrative. Whatever the cause, the writing of history has of late witnessed a discernable trend back to the big. Among these recent epic endeavours are three monumental overviews of the premodern history of the Mediterranean world. The authors of these panoramic studies have focused, above all, on the great forces shaping its history and on the meta-transformations from the ancient to post-ancient worlds of which the Middle Sea was part. All are by English-language scholars working in elite universities. Even so, there is little evidence to show that the writers of these large books directly influenced one other, or that they were aware of each others megaprojects as they wrote. [1] The convergence of historical interest seems, rather, to be of a more fortuitous and meaningful kind. On the Middle Ages with Chris Wickham Colin Marshall talks to Chris Wickham, Chichele Professor of Medieval History at Oxford University, Fellow of All Souls College and author of The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000, the latest in Penguins sprawling History of Europe series. Wickham integrates textual and architectual evidence to craft a new, fascinatingly detailed historical experience of the era beginning at the decline of the Roman Empire and ending at the rise of European nations as we know them today. Eschewing both teleology and grand narratives, Wickham presents the Middle Ages not as a mere stepping stone to modernity but as a fascinating period in and of itself.

The Inheritance of Rome by Chris Wickham review

Dominic Sandbrook applauds a rival to Gibbons masterpiece
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire, wrote Edward Gibbon in the conclusion to his historical masterpiece, was the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene, in the history of mankind. Schoolchildren today know far less about the Romans and their successors than they used to, yet the empire still casts a long shadow. When we fret about barbarians at the gates, or argue about the hubris of the Pax Americana, we are following in the footsteps not only of Gibbon, but of the historical characters who inhabited his work: Alaric leading the Goths through the pillaged streets of Rome; Justinian gazing for the first time on the dome of Hagia Sophia; Mohammed bringing the new message of Islam to the warriors of Arabia; Charlemagne being crowned emperor by the Pope on Christmas Day, 800. For grandiloquent rhetoric, savage wit and narrative drama there is still nobody to touch Gibbon. But the Oxford professor Chris Wickhams new history of the last years of Rome and the rise of its successors, spanning an impressive six centuries of European history, is a worthy competitor. As a volume in the same series as Tim Blannings acclaimed history of Europe in the age of Louis XIV and Mozart, it has a lot to live up to (as if Gibbons shadow were not enough). But it is a tribute to Wickhams awe-inspiring command of his sources, his stunning narrative sweep and his encyclopedic knowledge that it succeeds so masterfully. The new year may be only a month old, but it is hard to believe that it will produce many more enduring and impressive history books than this. Perhaps the most obvious difference between this book and Gibbons masterpiece is that Wickham almost immediately dismisses the idea of decline and fall. The late Roman world was, as he shows, a stable and sophisticated society, bound together by patronage, commerce and, above all, taxation, its citizens often living in bustling cities or country estates. But it did not suddenly fall apart when the Goths and Vandals showed up. Indeed, the people that we still call barbarians often adopted Roman models, whether of religion, coinage or language, and there was little sense of the end of an era. In North Africa, Wickham writes, the Vandals even thought they were being very Roman. The end of the Western empire was a story of evolution, not overnight collapse and the deposition of the last emperor, Romulus Augustulus, in 476 was one of historys greatest non-events. In the eastern Mediterranean, in any case, Roman rule continued for centuries. Gibbon had little time for the East Roman empire (which we call Byzantine, although nobody called it that at the time), but Wickham reminds us that for centuries it remained the most sophisticated and powerful state in the Eurasian world. He is a pithy and compelling guide through the narrative complexities of Constantinople politics, from the ruthless Justinian II, the emperor with the golden nose, to the grim Basil the Bulgar-Slayer, but he is happiest when exploring the subterranean shifts of social and economic history, showing how state power waxed and waned, how people made and spent their money, and how they worshipped and thought. Indeed, for anybody who has seen and admired the Byzantium exhibition at the Royal Academy, this book is the ideal companion. But one of Wickhams great strengths is his vast geographical and comparative range, so that we get a sense not just of one society, but of half a dozen or more. The only state that really compared with the Byzantine Empire for power and complexity was the gigantic Abbasid caliphate ruled from Baghdad, for a while the greatest city in the world. Unlike so many lazy post-September 11, 2001 popular histories, this book gives us little sense of a clash of civilisations; instead, Wickham shows how both

empires were the heirs of Rome, and how they confronted strikingly similar economic and ideological dilemmas. And he is no less insightful when explaining the politics of the Merovingians, the longhaired kings of the Franks, with their love of feasting and fighting or of the Anglo-Saxons, the Lombards, the Carolingians, and a host of other fascinating peoples. Although it is the grand sweep that really marks this book, Wickham has a sharp eye for a revealing anecdote, illuminating even the murkiest corners of the so-called Dark Ages. I loved, for example, the Irish kings timetable, which dictated that Sunday was for drinking ale, Monday for judgment, Tuesday for board games, Wednesday for hunting, Thursday for sex, and so on. Almost every page is full of arresting details and insights; even specialists will learn a lot. No review, in fact, can really do this book justice: it is a superlative work of historical scholarship.

711 and All That (conference report)

Posted by Jonathan Jarrett under archaeology, Carolingians, Institutions, Islamic Crescent, Spain | Tags: al-Andalus, Chris Wickham, conferences, Eduardo Manzano, Erica Buchberger, Graham Barrett, Javier Martnez, Laura Carlson, medieval economy, Nicola Clarke, Oxford, Rob Portass, Umayyads, Visigoths | [5] Comments Still months and months behind but by now more amused than regretful at my own dislocation from the present, I now bring you a report on a thing that happened in Oxford on 17th June this year, which was a mini-conference in the Institute of Archaeology entitled 711: reassessing the Arab conquest of Spain in its 1300th year. The organiser, Javier Martnez, who deserves all credit for organising this and letting me slip in having registered late, pointed out that to the best of his knowledge this was the only commemoration of that event worldwide, which seems rather strange, as we were all largely of the opinion that it was quite important. (Was he right? Surely not. Aha, heres one for starters.) But, who were we, or rather, they, since I was only heckling? Well, heres the program.

711: reassessing the Arab conquest of Spain in its 1300th anniversary year
Friday 17 June 2011 Lecture Room, Institute of Archaeology (36 Beaumont Street)
Eduardo Manzano Moreno, The Arab conquest of Spain Nicola Clarke, Caliphs and Conquerors: images of the Marwanids in the Islamic conquest of Spain Laura Carlson, Negotiating the Borderlands: Frankish-Iberian relations in the wake of 711 Graham Barrett, Latin Letters under Arab Rule Javier Martnez, Changing Urban Monumentality: Visigoths vs. Umayyads Erica Buchberger, Gothic Identity before and after 711 Rob Portass, Galicia before and after 711 Chris Wickham, Economy and Trade after 711 Eduardo Manzano Moreno, Response Javier Martnez, Conclusions You would have to know the Oxford Hispanist establishment (though we do actually have one!) to know, but what we have here, small and perfectly formed which is just as well given that the Lecture Room in Beaumont Street is small and somewhat oppressive is basically two superstars bracketing a party of local research students. Now, some of these guys probably will themselves be superstars in

due course and I already have to keep a close eye on Graham Barrett in case he ever starts wondering about Catalonia (local running joke, sorry), but I will confess that I had largely come to see Eduardo Manzano Moreno. He is one of the long string of people who set me to doing, directly or indirectly, what I now do. I know Ive blamed a lot of people for this but one of them, David Abulafia, set me two of Professor Manzanos articles when I was studying under him, and then I liked them so much that I came up with a Catalonia-focussed mini-project while studying under another of these people, Rosamond McKitterick, and that became the core of my doctoral proposal, so there you are. The two articles plus his first book more or less said everything you could usefully say at that time about the Christian-Muslim frontier, and I quickly found there was little to add to them, but it started me off.1 So Ive always wanted to meet him, and apart from the fact that he insists all his old work is rubbish and outdatedwhich as you can see doesnt stop me citing itit was an absolute pleasure. He broke down the questions of 711 into a set of issues, which were roughly as follows: 1. The Arab conquest of Spain is not the weird onewe have lots of parallels where a rapid military assault knocks over a failing political order, including the Arab conquests in the Middle Eastbut its not like the immediately-preceding Arab conquest of Africa, where resistance is stiffer and collapse much slower. 2. Although later stories of it make it a chance venture that got really really lucky, it plainly wasnt: the attacks were coordinated, they had mints set up striking hybrid coin within weeks, governors appointed and generally an infrastructure plan was ready to roll. 3. The armies of conquest were organised on tribal lines but they were not established thus, other things like lineages or territories were more important. (Here he clashed explicitly with Pierre Guichards work on this, and there was a lot of scepticism about this point in questions.2) 4. The conquest is usually seen as pactual, but the pacts have two very different outcomes: some local aristocracies are integrated into an Arabic one, but others are left in place for a while, until the ninth-century rebellions that effectively end their limited independence. AlAndalus was not, in other words, a unified hierarchical polity until surprisingly long after its formation. 5. Relatedly, that is when most of the writing about the conquest comes from, when its results were being remodelled. That shouldnt surprise us, really, but it is something that is often not thought about. 6. The continuity versus rupture debate is impossible to answer from a position equipped with hindsight; we need to think instead about when change comes and how people react in the circumstances of the day, not as if someone was working towards a goal of a new caliphate already in 715. 711 is the biggest of many points of change that eventually lead to that point. This was an odd presentation in as much as it seemed to be an attempt to start six separate arguments rather than substantiate one. In fact, thats exactly what it was, and Chris Wickham joined in happily at the end, with various hecklers asking stimulating questions when agreement seemed too near. Between the two, however, we had Nicola Clarke, picking up in a way on point five of Manzanos paper with reference to the way that the portrayal of the actual conquerors, Ms ibn Nusayr and Tarq ibn Zayd, changed in historical writing from the quasi-independents they probably were to loyal or disloyal servants of the Umayyad Caliphs, in sources of course written under Umayyad rule in Spain. We had Laura Carlson, flying some tentative kites about diplomatic contacts between Carolingians and Arab rulers in Spain, and reminding us that from an eighth-century Frankish perspective the Arabs were not the only problem people on that border, and that the centre was not necessarily the point they need to negotiate with.3 We had Graham Barrett, being as interesting as ever and this time about the few bits of evidence for Latin document-writing under Arab rule, all three of them, two of which relate to Catalonia so obviously I had to discourage him in questions, but I didnt know about the third, which is from Portugal.4 And we had Javier Martnez taking a brief moment in the spotlight, or at least the projector glare, talking about the change from polis to madina, as Hugh Kennedy put it long ago, as perpetrated upon the Visigothic attempt to shore up Roman building traditions and even spread them between the fifth and eighth centuries, seeing between the

two sets of projects a difference in audiences, from the civic public to the governing lites; this was a very subtle paper and full of impressive illustration that actually made up part of the argument.5 Then we got Erica Buchberger, talking about the political value of the Gothic ethnicity in Spain and arguing more or less that, despite the name of the chronicler Ibn al-Qutya (`son of the Gothic woman), politically it was the Visigoths that killed Gothicness and that only where Toledo had had least impact, i. e. the far north, did this seem like what the identity of the fallen kingdom had been. And we got Rob Portass, addressing the supposed isolation of Galicia and arguing that it was in fact more isolated from its neighbours by both geography and politics than from the old and new centres of power further south, but that the Arabs didnt really ever try to integrate it because the perceived worth of doing so was so low. Transitional dinar of the al-Andalus mint, 716x717, Fitzwilliam Museum, PG.13217 (Philip Grierson Collection), with Arabic obverse and Latin reverse And then there was Chris Wickham, who talked about ceramic distributions and where the gaps in our knowledge of economic change in this period are: in so doing he argued as strongly as he does in Framing of the Early Middle Ages for an Iberian peninsula broken into regions where things happen almost disconnectedly, so that the far north could carry on making and using fine pottery long after the economy along the west coast of whats now Spain had broken down to the most basic regional level, that the area where the Muslims centred their government was somehow better connected to Mediterranean trade even when they did so and revived complexity quicker but didnt necessarily spread this till much later, and various other things.6 In the course of this he offhandedly denied that al-Andalus had a functioning tax system, however, and here he met some opposition, not least from Professor Manzano but from others too; the position eventually reached was that tax, too, was probably regional and may only have worked in the west. (I have notes here that paraphrase the argument as, WICKHAM: Its not much of a tax system. MANZANO: Yes it is! We were nearly at that level, but all good-humouredly, it was good fun to watch.) In his response Professor Manzano repeatedly stressed that it was the ninth century that we needed to watch, when cities that had collapsed revived (though not all of the same ones!), when tax is spread more thoroughly, when rule is tightened and enclaves closed down. 711 is only the start of a long process, and we jump to the parts of Andalusi history that we can see clearly much too easily; in fact, as Javier Martnez said in summing up, despite its reputation as a polity of tolerance, enlightenment and scholarship, al-Andalus emerges almost fully-formed from something quite like a Dark Age as far as our knowledge is concerned, and that Dark Age includes 711 and its aftermath, rather than ending with it.7 1. E. Manzano Moreno, Christian-Muslim Frontier in al-Andalus: idea and reality in Dionisius Agius & Richard Hitchcock (edd.), Arab Influence upon Medieval Europe (Reading 1994), pp. 83-96; Manzano, La frontera de al-Andalus en poca de los Omeyas, Biblioteca de Historia 9 (Madrid 1991); idem, The Creation of a Medieval Frontier: Islam and Christianity in the Iberian Peninsula, eighth to twelfth centuries in Daniel Power and Naomi Standen (edd.), Frontiers in Question: Eurasian borderlands, 700-1700 (London 1999), pp. 32-52. The extensive coverage and erudition of those didnt stop me adding my Centurions, Alcalas and Christiani perversi: Organisation of Society in the pre-Catalan Terra de Ning in A. Deyermond & M. Ryan (ed.), Early Medieval Spain: a symposium, Papers of the Medieval Hispanic Research Seminar 63 (London: Queen Mary University of London 2010), pp. 97-127, of course, and if I could squeeze in there may yet be more room, but I cannot at the moment see where it is. 2. Guichards work most famously encapsulated in his Al-Andalus: estructura antropolgica de una sociedad islmica en Occidente, Archivum 53 (Barcelona 1976), transl. as Structures sociales orientales et occidentales dans lEspagne musulmane (Paris 1977), but he has kept busy since then.

3. It is very strange that really very little has been published on this since F. W. Bucklers Harun alRashid and Charles the Great (Cambridge MA 1931), but because he is an old friend I must at least mention Thomas Kitchens The Muslim World in Western European Diplomacy from the Rise of Islam to the death of Louis the Pious (unpublished M. Phil. thesis, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge 2004), which last I heard was still under review somewhere or other but which is the kind of careful work we would want done on this. 4. Both the Catalan ones, oddly, have been discussed separately by Roger Collins, one in his Visigothic Law and Regional Diversity in Disputes in Early Medieval Spain in Wendy Davies & Paul Fouracre (edd.), The Settlement of Disputes in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge 1986), pp. 85-104, repr. in idem, Law, Culture and Regionalism in Early Medieval Spain, Variorum Collected Studies 356 (Aldershot 1992), VI, with text and translation in the original (and maybe in the reprint), and the other in his Literacy and the Laity in Early Medieval Spain in Rosamond McKitterick (ed.), The Uses of Literacy in Early Mediaeval Europe (Cambridge 1990), pp. 109-133, repr. in Collins, Law, Culture and Regionalism, XVI, with facsimile in the original if I remember correctly. 5. The Kennedy article his From Polis to Madina: urban change in late Antique and Early Islamic Syria in Past and Present no. 106 (Oxford 1985), pp. 3-27, repr. in Colin Chant & David Goodman (edd.), Pre-Industrial Cities and Technology (London 1999), pp. 94-98 and in Kennedy, The Byzantine and early Islamic Near East, Variorum Collected Studies 860 (Aldershot 2006), I. 6. Chris Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800 (Oxford 2005), pp. 488-495, 656-665 & 741-758. 7. And then we all went to the pub and gossiped nineteen to the dozen, but none of that needs reporting here really. Encouraging, though!