The Carolingian West: Europe in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries
Feudal relations are found in the heartland of the Carolingian Empire, between the Loire and Rhine rivers, an area with large and bellicose nobility, a peasantry and soil fertile to support the mammoth financial outlays that feudal bond required. This chapter talks about Charlemagne, a great conqueror who ruled an area larger than any prince since the Roman emperors; but the Byzantine emperor, whose orthodoxy was suspect over the iconoclasm issue, was temporal lord of the city of Rome. The Charlemagne's reign established patterns of governance, political relations, and culture that would dominate Europe for centuries. The chapter discusses the territorial lordship and royal office-holding growth which came to be associated with vassalage- a contractual bond between free persons, each of whom had limited and honorable obligations to perform for the other- in the eighth century and especially in the ninth.