A key theme in this collection of thirteen essays is the creative tension between the Carolingian dynasty and its aristocratic followers across 250 years. The first section explores the rising dynasty's attempts to consolidate its power through war and rewards. The second section focuses on the exercise of authority through a complex system of governance and representation, and the pivotal role played by the courts of Charlemagne and his successors. In the third section, we see the Carolingian system undergoing a crisis of legitimacy, challenged by civil war, royal divorce, and aristocratic encroachment on dynastic exclusivity. These essays anatomise the dynamics of power relations in the greatest empire of the early medieval west.