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Power and Place in Europe in the Early Middle Ages$
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Jayne Carroll, Andrew Reynolds, and Barbara Yorke

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266588

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266588.001.0001

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Spatial Configurations of Power in Anglo-Saxon England: Sidelights on the Relationships between Boroughs, Royal Vills and Hundreds

Spatial Configurations of Power in Anglo-Saxon England: Sidelights on the Relationships between Boroughs, Royal Vills and Hundreds

Chapter:
(p.436) 20 Spatial Configurations of Power in Anglo-Saxon England: Sidelights on the Relationships between Boroughs, Royal Vills and Hundreds
Source:
Power and Place in Europe in the Early Middle Ages
Author(s):

Andrew Reynolds

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266588.003.0020

The complex social and administrative fabric of Anglo-Saxon England existed largely without urban environments. Based upon patterns of naming, this chapter examines relationships between local administrative districts (hundreds) and central places, arguing for the long-term persistence of pre-urban modes of social organisation in Anglo-Saxon England. Following a review of urban development in Anglo-Saxon England, neglected material is brought to bear on long-standing notions of urbanism which emphasise the progressive nucleation of social and administrative functions as a linear measure of social complexity. A new perspective is offered here which emphasises the limited extent of urban development in England before the 12th century and the robust nature of non-urban social complexity as a social system. Overall, the applicability of measures of social and administrative complexity drawn from ‘primary’ complex societies is questioned and a plea is made for approaching European post-Roman societies on their own terms rather than by comparison with ancient and classical ones.

Keywords:   Anglo-Saxon England, hundreds, central places, pre-urban modes of social organisation, urbanism, social complexity, social and administrative functions, ‘primary’ complex societies

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