“Not against the kingdom, but for the kingdom and my freedom” Revisiting the Saxon War (1073-1075): Opposition to the King or a Revolt for the Kingdom?

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Tul Israngura Na Ayudhya

Abstract

               In 1073, a group of local princes in Saxony took up arms against King Henry IV of Germany (1056-1105). The uprising has been widely interpreted in recent historiography as opposition to the king, especially his mischievous behaviour and grasping territorial policy which contributed to the Saxon repression, individual suffering, and loss of liberty embodied in forced payment of tithes. The following research article aims to revisit the Saxon war by paying attention to its argumentation. What allegations were brought by the Saxon noblemen to delegitimise Henry's kingship? Did they oppose the king's misconduct which, they believed, affected the welfare of the Saxons? Or, did they rebel to preserve the traditional order of the kingdom? In contrast to current historiography, this article argues that immediate individual suffering that the Saxons complained was of less importance than their intention to maintain the abstract notion of “freedom” (libertas) which was closely connected with the medieval concept of social rank (ordo). It was only in this “freedom” of Saxony that the correct political structure of the kingdom was embodied, a concept that has long been neglected by medievalists in making sense of the political structure of medieval Germany. Thus, exploring the Saxon war beyond the conflict between the Saxons and the king's personality can certainly broaden our understanding of the political relationship between the kingdom, the province and the king's subjects in the high Middle Ages.

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บทความ : International