Comparative approach to ethnic identity and urban settlement: Visigothic Spain, Lombard Italy and Merovingian Francia, c. 565-774 AD
Ferguson, Craig Alan
The traditional social and political divisions between the Late Roman and ‘Barbarian’ inhabitants of the post-Roman successor states has in the last few decades been challenged from several new angles. In this thesis, a comparative approach to the question of post-migration period urban settlement is constructed, taking into account recent scholarly research and developments. Following a short introduction broad issues such as terminology, ethnicity, historiography, cultural exchanges, and archaeological evidence are examined in the first two chapters of this work. After this the case studies of Visigothic Spain, Lombard Italy, and Merovingian Francia are presented in three respective chapters. Having looked at some of the specific details for these regions and how they illustrate some of the underlying concepts, trends, or variations in urban administration, the sixth chapter of this thesis presents the comparative approach itself. The main goal of the approach is to alter the ways in which historians perceive the processes of ethnic interactions and identity formation taking place from the mid-sixth to eighth centuries AD, and consists of six main points based upon both the earlier broader chapters, but also incorporates the specific details from the case studies as well. Ultimately it states that while each of the newly established aristocracies inherited a largely fragmentary and localized region following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, the administrative structures and means of interaction with the Roman populace varied widely in each of the three case studies. The greatest variations were detected in how each group administered non-capital cities within their respective region, particularly the degrees to which they altered the Late Roman urban framework. This work advocates the importance of focusing on ‘the new elite and interactions with different types of cities’, rather than the traditional approach of studying their impact upon cities as a general and broad term.