James L. Kelley, “Frankish Civilization and the Origins of Anti-Worker Sentiment in the West”


—James L. Kelley

Who were the Franks?

In 476 A.D. Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor, was supplanted by the barbarian Odoacer. Many historians have assumed that this fifth century tumult either ended Roman culture or fused it with that of the barbarians, the latter having decisively grasped the scepter of European power. However, Medievalist James Bryce insists that Roman-ness (Gr. Romeosyne), far from evaporating into thin air during the fifth century, rather carried on as the dominant socio-political reality in Medieval Europe: “There was…legally no extinction of the Western Empire at all, but only a reunion of East and West. In form…things now reverted to their state during the first two centuries of the Empire, save that Byzantium instead of Rome was now the centre of the civil government” [1]. So, Romans in the Eastern Roman Empire did not simply wake up one morning and change the placard outside the palace from “Roman Empire” to “Byzantine Empire.” In like manner, the vast majority of persons living in the Western Roman Empire in the 400’s and thereafter did not become culturally orphaned from their identity as Roman citizens of a single Roman Empire. They did not grudgingly accept a new identity as “Europeans” or “peasants” who used to be Romans. However, between the fifth and eleventh centuries, we do indeed see a veritable revolution in the West: By the 1000’s, a group known as “Franks” have taken over the Western Empire, calling it the Regnum Francorum. But what happened to the Roman citizenry in the wake of this change? In order to approach this question, we must do a little historiography. First we will take a look at what the latest research has concluded concerning the Franks and their feudal institutions. Then we will show that these findings offer us valuable insights into why “workers” or the “working class” are regarded with either ambivalence or contempt by elites and their middle-class allies in the successor civilizations of the West.

The Feudal Revolution: Franks Promoted To Nobility, Romans Demoted To Villainy.

Medieval historians that have written since the 1980s have focused mainly on what Georges Duby termed the “Feudal Revolution” [2]. The idea is that the eleventh century saw a new Europe emerge, wherein a “new a harsh regime of lordship arose in castles sheltering knights who imposed an array of novel obligations on peasants; the latter, descended from rustics free and unfree, came to form a new class in time” [3]. Though the researches of many of Duby’s followers turned up evidence that castle-building knights spread violence and terror in many European regions in the eleventh century, and that many new men were enlisted in the ranks of the knighted, more recent writing on the period has called the whole “feudal transformation” thesis into question, or at least its conventional dating. Dominique Barthélemy notes that “what Georges Duby had discovered…was the transformation of noble heirs into knights rather than the promotion to nobility of non-noble louts…” [4]. Barthélemy, however, did not doubt at all that a feudal revolution had taken place. Rather, he showed that the sea change in Europe occurred earlier, around the seventh and eighth centuries, when the Carolingian Franks seized power in the West.
The fact is, 98% of the European population—this 98% being predominantly Gallo-Roman, but including a minority of Germans of various tribes—was either incorporated or enslaved by a small group of aristocrats by the middle of the eighth century. The new leaders of Europe called themselves “Franks.” Rather than recount what little we know of the origin and early development of this shadowy group, we will be better served to recount a few facts that will help us to understand how this small group of aristocratic warriors came to rule all of Europe.

Let us begin with a specific fact that will at least offer a clue as to why the word “revolution” has been used by Medievalists to describe the European situation in the Middle Ages. Our “specific fact” is not disputed by Medievalists, though it is more often than not passed over in embarrassed silence, its burning significance unheeded: The Franks were the less than 2 per cent of Europe that came to rule much of the rest of the European population in the Middle Ages [5]. Indeed, the origin of the English words “frank,” meaning sincere, and “franchise,” meaning a right to operate or move freely, is found in the Frankish word franc, meaning “free” [6]. It does not require an imaginative labor of Hercules to guess the etymology of villein, which designated any non-Frank living on Frankish plantations. The plantations themselves were called villae. In other words, a villain was anyone who was not free; all non-Franks were villains and thus were unfree. My great-great-grandfather was alive when African-American slaves were enfranchised, or made free [7]. Many divergent theories abound as to how such a small group of people came to hold so much power, but the following elements doubtless played a role:

1) Here Come the Cavalry. Some historians have posited that the Carolingian Franks used mounted cavalry more extensively and more effectively than any other group in the West from the seventh century on. This fact, so the argument goes, made it possible to decimate armies full of footmen with a surprisingly small number of armored knights. This military innovation—the knight or armored mounted warrior—was not a worldwide phenomenon, as fairy tales seem to suggest with their knights in shining armor. Such thinking gives the impression that a knight is just a mundane soldier, a kind of stock-character like “the farmer.” Presumably, knights were found everywhere, and rode around in every kingdom the world over as some generic fighter. In actuality, knights were Franks, “a military and social elite” [8], bound together by their (perceived) sharing of noble blood and their noble calling to dominate the world in the name of God and for the glory of God. Just so this obvious yet stubbornly elusive point is made clear, let me reiterate: The knight was a peculiarly Frankish socio-military phenomenon, and thus, all later European “knights” was (and if we look at the persistence of “knighthood” in some European countries, are) imitations of a very specific and well-defined (none stood apart from their neighbors more than Frankish knights vis-à-vis the European peasantry) class of Franks. The knight was a heavily armored, mounted Frankish überwarrior. Francophiles such as the esteemed R. Allen Brown have clamored for the educated public to recognize the amazing genius of the Franks because—among other things—they invented knighthood. Indeed, knights were Franks. Though we cannot go further into the issue, the researches of historians such as Bernard S. Bachrach and others have pointed out the paucity of evidence that the mounted warrior made much difference in Medieval warfare. Bachrach has given much evidence, however, that it was Pippin II and his clan’s ability to both utilize a variety of military tactics and to use patient, savvy diplomacy that accounted for the Franks amazing power-grab. It seems that Pippin II in particular was adept at forging alliances with groups of Frankish aristocrats from the far reaches of Europe. These wealthy overlords and their large retinues of bodyguards and vassals constituted an amazing force that saw itself as a distinct ethnicity born to conquer the world in the name of God. From the late seventh century to the early ninth, the Franks warred almost incessantly, losses in battle being rare during this time [9]. The result of this amazing century or so of victories was a Carolingian Frankish Empire that extended from Spain to Saxony, from the Northern coast of France to the mountain passes of Northern Italy.

2) May I Be Frank? With the ascension of the ultra-martial Carolingian Franks (7th-9th centuries A.D.) came a new societal alignment: “Frank” came to mean “being a freeman, a warrior, a lord and/or vassal, and a God-beloved noble.” “Non-Frank” meant “disenfranchised.” To be a serf under a Frankish knight-lord, and to be “vulgar” or ignoble—this was the lot of all non-Franks [10]. One Frankish phrase used to describe non-Franks—vilisimi ribaldi—can be translated “vile low-lifes” [11]. As for non-Franks being unfree, the words of an English priest who had seen enough Englishmen trodden under the feet of Norman Frankish lords speak volumes: “We are called serfs and beaten if we are slow in our service to them” [12]. As I touched upon in a previous book, it was not until the late 13th century or so before it became normative for the rank and file commoner in France to be known as “French” or a “Frenchman.” Even then, it was because of the political scheming of the most powerful man in the world at the time, the Frank Philip le Bel, that the enserfed former Gallo-Roman citizens of the Roman Empire were told they were “French.” Interestingly, this promotion of peasants into French was the occasion for the first-ever instance of universal taxation, as Philip was in dire need of money to support his wars against the Flemish and against his Frankish cousin, King Edward of England. It was also possible now to institute a wider-reaching draft, for everyone knew that to be a “Frank” or to be “French” was to fight for “patria” (we can add to our alarming list of Frankish “firsts” this latter notion of fighting for “the fatherland,” a harbinger of the totalitarian nationalism that has haunted the modern world over the course of the last few centuries) [13].

3) A Man’s House Is His Castle. Franks invented the castle. Elizabeth Armitage was perhaps the first to recognize the Frankish origin of the castle (or, at least, she was the first to call proper attention to the significance of the castle) in her important book Early Norman Castles of the British Isles [14]. Armitage points out that before the Franks, fortifications were designed to protect an entire community and its livestock. As her follower R. Allen Brown emphasizes, the Franks innovated by building the world’s first castles: “…[T]he castle is a fortified residence, uniquely combining the dual role [of fortification/domicile], and moreover it is the private…residential fortress of a lord…” [15]. Jean-Pierre Poly and Eric Bournazel are among the scholarly majority that has overturned the false romantic notion that “audacious adventurers covered the land with strongholds to protect a helpless peasantry from the raids of Viking, Hungarian, or Saracen pirates…”. Poly and Bournazel corroborate Armitage’s insight that, before the rise of the Carolingians, the fortifications known as burgherforts or Volksburgen, which were large enough to protect entire communities, peasants and all, were the norm [16]. Around the year 1000, so Poly and Boumazel’s “Feudal revolution” thesis goes, everything changed. Smaller castra were constructed that often formed the focal point of a villa or manse. These castles—which popped up everywhere in Francia—were constructed to protect the Frankish lord, his family, and sometimes his retainers from everyone else in the community. A word from Georges Duby illuminates the deeper significance of the castle as knightly/noble residence: “…[T]he majority of these castles were built by great landholders to support the exercise of power which was ‘neither a continuation of old patterns of patronage, nor a substitute for the weakened regalian duty to preserve peace and uphold justice…’. (-) It is likely that there was widespread and uncontrolled castle-building during the period which saw the fusion of public and private justice” [17].

However, the Regnum Francorum soon spread beyond the confines of the European continent. In the last fourth of the eighth century, Charlemagne, the most famed Frankish king, campaigned in Italy and Germany, deracinating thousands of Saxons and bringing huge amounts of territory under Frankish control [18]. Next, after a purported union with (Eastern) Roman Empress Irene fell through, Charlemagne had himself crowned Emperor by the Pope in Rome. I will go further into the theological and geopolitical facets of Charlemagne’s maneuvering in a later essay. For now, suffice to say that the Franks, far from being politically unsophisticated, had worldwide ambitions, and they often proved to possess the savvy and ruthlessness needed to carry out their geopolitical gambits. This Frankish dynamism is evinced in their (a) takeover of England in 1066, their (b) rule of Sicily at different times in the Middle Ages, and in their (c) string of Crusades against the Muslims (and, in the early 13th century, against the Christians in Constantinople New Rome!). Indeed, it is difficult to think of a single aspect of the Medieval period that does not have a Frankish king and an army of crusaders behind it. Our further essay will provide a detailed look at the Franks’ theory of kingship and its idiosyncrasies.

Frankish Demonization of the Laboring Class
in the Middle Ages

“…[T]he peasants in fighting against economic oppression were also fighting for wider human rights. They strove not merely for a reduction of rent but for human dignity. They fought quite consciously against a system of society which by the thirteenth century had evolved a clear caste interpretation of peasant status, so that blood became the determinant of social and legal rights. What more poignant and bitter comment on this could there be than the action of a Worcestershire tenant of the Earl of Gloucester in 1293? This man was distrained by the earl’s bailiffs to receive land to be held in the earl’s manor of Hanley Castle in a servile manner. He had often sworn (so a jury said) that rather than take land on servile conditions he would drown or hang himself. And so he did—for to escape this disgrace he drowned himself in the River Severn at Clevelode.”
―Rodney Hilton [19]

“A twelfth–century bishop of Trier was assailed by a starving crowd that refused his offer of useless money, seized his fat palfrey, tore it to pieces, and devoured it before his eyes.”

―Morris Bishop [20]

In his controversial The Decline of the West (1922), Oswald Spengler characterizes the medieval peasant as (1) without identity, (2) without culture, and (3) without intellect. These negatives are more than offset, so Spengler insists, by the peasant’s “mystical soul” [21]. Scholar Allen J. Frantzen, in an effort to expose the inhumanity, indeed the perversity, of this Frankish stereotype of the peasantry, notes that for the nobles “[t]he peasants were seen as childlike in their simplicity and assured of salvation because, as Honorius Augustodunensis wrote, ‘they feed the people of God by their sweat.’ The logic of this concept…was perverse” [22]. In effect, the purveyors of this idea have inflicted untold suffering upon millions of non-Franks, all the while easing their own consciences and instilling docility in their humanoid beasts of burden by promising a heavenly reward. What reward is granted the masters in this scheme? Of this we hear nothing.
Perhaps more insidious are those overt characterizations of the peasantry as subhuman and bestial. The Norman Frank Geoffrey Luttrell, early in the fourteenth century, commissioned the creation of a book that gives us a window into the Norman Franks’ views on ethnicity. Literary scholar Thorlac Turville-Petre’s description is apt: “The best-known pictures in the Luttrell Psalter are of the farming year, which are now used as delightful illustrations of country-life in the Middle Ages, but for Luttrell are demonstrations of his ownership of the ‘upplandish’ men with their miserable, sometimes apelike faces, serving their lord in the borders of his book as in his fields. In one illustration a monkey wearing a cap rides a cart drawn by three horses. Luttrell himself is pictured, magnificent and fully armed on his charger, with his womenfolk gazing up at him in admiration” [23].

This passage should be sobering to many who have grown up in the Southern region of the United States, where until recently one could find “lawn jockeys”—ceramic representations of black people as childlike and simian. Almost invariably these racist emblems wear the same workman’s cap we see in the Luttrell Psalter. This author, for one, experienced a moment of truth in coming face to face with a white lawn jockey in the Luttrell Psalter. This provoked the burning question—why is enslavement given its proper name in every case except when my beloved non-Frankish European people are at the receiving end of it [24, 25]?

More evidence that the Norman Franks viewed their English villeins as “lewed” men is found in the Chronicle of Robert Manning. Here the Anglo-Saxon author insists that, if his people were not being starved and oppressed by Frankish overlords, they would appear as comely and pleasant as their foreign lords:

Als fair are the commune pedaille
As the lordynges and of entaille.
[If you] Give Englishmen even keeping,
Meat and drink and other thing,
[Then there] is no man of so fair colour,
Never so clear, never of so sweet savour.
(I, ll. 14885-90) [26]

Manning’s cry is that of every oppressed person who has been forced to work in inhumane conditions without adequate clothing or shelter. “Our faces are dirty, and we do smell bad,” Manning might have said, “but only because you have enslaved us and given us no hot water and soap! Were we afforded a share in your lordly privilege, your bright banners and your opulent feasts, we would appear as noble as you!” Such self-assertions of English worth would have been unnecessary had the Franks not instituted a feudal culture of oppression at their arrival in England in 1066.
The foregoing evidence for Frankish ethnic demonization of non-Franks calls into question the naïve opinions of many of today’s leading medievalists, who believe that there was no such thing as racism in Europe before the modern period. Paul H. Freedman, after examining Frankish documents used to justify the perpetual enslavement of non-Franks (such as the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle and the Customs of Beauvaisis), concludes that “[i]f the medieval period for the most part did not share the tendencies of modern racism to posit literal biological distinction, it placed the moment of division far enough back in the historical past to account for the marked, physical difference of the servile population” [28]. How is this any different than Southern slave owners who justified the enslavement of blacks on the basis of the “mark of Cain”? I suggest, following John S. Romanides, that Western historiography has, either consciously or unconsciously, adopted the perspective of the Franks and their chroniclers and canonists. The spinal column of this Frankish historiography is the justification of Frankish rule on the basis of an ethnic divide between Franks who rule and non-Franks who, because of a literal Fall in the distant past, are doomed to eternal servitude.
Though we have already examined the Frankish origins of feudalism, knighthood, the castle it is important for us to bear in mind that the very idea of “the peasant” comes from the developments in Middle Age Francia, developments that spread to cover a large part of Europe after the eleventh century. Thus the peasant’s peculiar mode of existence can only be understood through his relation to a Frankish lord [29]. It may come as a shock for many Americans of European descent to be confronted with the Frankish nobility’s notion of work itself as an ignoble, even bestial activity fit only for the subhuman. In closing, I would like to reproduce a passage from historian Pierre Bonnassie that gives us some insight into the “difference” between slave and serf: “The decline of the [Frankish] slave system…took the form of enfranchisement cum obsequio, motivated by economic factors. In the ninth century…manumissions had already had an effect; slaves constituted only a minority amongst the tenants of the great estates.
Several centuries later, around 1200, servitude existed but was no longer the same. An old name—servus, serf—concealed a new reality: serfdom was not…the continuation of slavery. In the first place, it affected a much larger number of people: “the majority of manorial subjects.” Further, it was different in origin; if some…descendants of the slaves of the early Middle Ages were found amongst the serfs, the majority of them…had as their ancestors “coloni, lites, [freedman, small allod-holders], in a word, men considered…as legally free” [30].


1. James Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire (London: Macmillan, 1866), 26. Cit. in Herman Fischer, “The Belief in the Continuity of the Roman Empire Among the Franks of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries,” Catholic Historical Review 4 (1924): 536-555, here 538. Bryce does not use the word Romeosyne, a term used by many social commentators in Eastern Europe to indicate an ideal of civic egalitarian virtue that many find in certain aspects of the political tradition of the Ancient Greek polis. See D.P. Payne, The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought: The Political Hesychasm of John S. Romanides and Christos Yannaras (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011).

2. Georges Duby, The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 149ff.

3. Thomas N. Bisson, “The ‘Feudal Revolution,’” Past and Present 142 (1994): 6-42, here 6. Cit. in Dominique Barthélemy, The Serf, the Knight, and the Historian, trans. Graham Robert Edwards (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2009), 1.

4. Barthélemy, Serf, 3.

5. John S. Romanides, “Examples of the Science of the Ethnic Cleaning of Roman History and a Vision of the Future United States of Franco-Romania,” Hellenic College Lecture Oct. 17, 1998 [revised Feb. 1999], last accessed 20 February, 2012, http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.21.en. the_ethnic_cleaning_of_roman_history.01.htm#k2. Cf. Patrick Geary, Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 115: “While population estimates are impossible to make with any accuracy, one guess puts the number of Franks in the entire kingdom at a maximum of about 150,000 to 200,000 spread out within a population of six or seven million Gallo-Romans. While these figures are almost certainly exaggerated, it is reasonable to think that an estimate of a bit more than two percent Franks is not entirely unreasonable.
This two percent, concentrated above the Loire and dominating the rest of the population, had an effect far beyond its numbers.” On the use of the designation “Frank” as free and thus non-serf in late Capetian royal letters of enfranchisement, see Paul H. Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), 112-13. Freedman identifies the early twelfth-century Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle (On p. 113 Freedman cites Marc Bloch, Rois et serfs: Un chapitre d’histoire capétienne [Geneva, 1976 (1920)], 144.) as the first use of “Frank” as “free”).

6. See above, footnote 5.

7. On the etymologies of “villain,” see John S. Romanides, Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine: An Interplay Between Theology and Society (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1981), 14: With the advent of Frankish feudalism, “former free Romans were transferred en masse from the cities and were established on the slave labor camps called villae and mansi, alongside the serfs. They were called villeins (vilains), a term which, for understandable reasons, came to mean enemies of law and order.” Cf. Stanley Leman Galpin, Cortois and Villain: A Study of the Distinctions Made Between Them by the French and Provençal Poets of the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Centuries (New Haven, CT: Ryder’s Printing House, 1905), p. 8, which cites the medieval court poem Ille et Galeron:

Bien sai que del diable est plains
Qui pour se prouece est villains;
Vilonie vient de vil lieu.
(vv. 1615-1617)

As for the origin of the word “franc”: “There is strong evidence that the higher and lower nobility of European feudalism were mostly descendants of Germanic and Norman conquerors, and that the serfs were mostly descendants of the conquered Romans and Romanized Celts and Saxons. This explains why the name Frank meant both noble and free in contrast to the serfs. This usage was strong enough to get into the English language by way of the Normans. Thus, even the African-American was described as receiving his franchise when set free” (Romanides, Franks, Romans, 30).

8. R. Allen Brown, Origins of English Feudalism (London: Unwin Hyman, 1973), 24.

9. Bernard S. Bachrach, Early Carolingian Warfare: Prelude to Empire (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 1-83.

10. Let us remember, however, that the Middle Ages did see the gradual (or, in some places, abrupt) rise of an urban merchant class. Some towns, rather than popping-up during Frankish suzerainty, seem to have functioned more-or-less continuously from Roman times, through the medieval epoch, and up to the present day. Besançon is a good example of a Roman town that, with the dissolution of the Roman Empire in the West, became first an episcopal city (ruled by the local archbishop), only later to become a commune in 1290, ruled by the townspeople, the change coming about by royal charter. The following vignette, a passage from Fernand Braudel’s The Identity of France (2 vols. New York: HarperCollins, 1989) provides some interesting details: “The charter…made [Besançon] a free imperial city in whose affairs the archbishop would interfere less and less, a sort of urban republic with the right to levy taxes and pronounce justice, to police itself, even to sign treaties of alliance and (only after 1534 it is true) to mint money stamped with its own arms” (1.193).

11. Antione Thomas, Fransesco da Barberino et la literature provençale en France au moyen âge (Paris, 1883), 117: “Vidi regem Francorum salutantem in Piccardia tres vilissimos ribaldos qui inclinabent se illi, et volentes illi loqui equitare ad latus ejus et ipsum singulos patienter audite.” Cited in Elizabeth A.R. Brown, “Persona et Gesta: The Image and Deeds of the Thirteenth-Century Capetians,” Viator 19 (1988): 219-246, at 229.

12. Froissart, Chronicles, Part One (London: Penguin, 1968), 212.

13. See my Anatomyzing Divinity: Studies in Science, Esotericism and Political Theology (Walterville, OR: TrineDay, 2011), 94-95.

14. Elisabeth Armitage, Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: J. Murray, 1912).

15. R. A. Brown, Origins, 30. Cf. Armitage, 62.

16. Jean-Pierre Poly and Eric Bournazel, The Feudal Transformation, 900-1200, trans. Caroline Higgitt (New York and London: Holmes and Meier, 1991 [1980]), cit. at 25, cf. 24-25 for “encastlement.” We should temper our emphasis on encastlement with the knowledge that the Franks did use more conventional fortifications for a variety of purposes and used them at various places in every century from the Merovingian period on. On the validity of Poly and Bournazel’s “Feudal transformation” thesis, we hold that a major change did occur in many places around 1000 A.D., but, as we wrote in our opening paragraphs, it was a further development of the earlier Frankish feudal revolution inaugurated by Pippin II and his successors.

17. George Duby, France in the Middle Ages: 987-1460, From Hugh Capet to Joan of Arc, tr. Juliet Vale (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991 [1987]), 59. Interior cit. A. Debord, La Société laïque dans les pays de la Charente (Xe-XIIe s[iècle]) (Paris, 1984). Summarizing the work of J.-P. Poly, Pierre Dockès affirms that “the [Frankish] castle did not serve as protection against invasions, which had on the whole ceased by the time the fortresses were built. (-) It loomed over the villa, dominating the land and all the peasants. (-) And since now the magnate came to take up residence in his castle, he made it the collection center for all those new dues which he claimed were owed him and which he was then extending…” (Medieval Slavery and Liberation, tr. Arthur Goldhammer [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982], 107-108).

18. Einhard and Notker the Stammerer, Two Lives of Charlemagne, trans. Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1969), 61-64.

19. Rodney Hilton, “Peasant Movements in England Before 1381,” 122-138 in Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism: Essays in Medieval Social History (London: Hambledon Press,1985), 138. Orig. published in Journal of Peasant Studies 1 (1974): 207-219.

20. Morris Bishop, The Middle Ages (New York: American Heritage Press, 1970), 244.

21. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 2 vols, trans. C.F. Atkinson (New York: A. Knopf, 1926-8), 96. Cit. in Werner Röesner, Peasants in the Middle Ages, trans. A. Stützer (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992 [1985]), 11.

22. Allen J. Frantzen, “The Work of Work: Servitude, Slavery, and Labor in Medieval England,” 1-15 in The Work of Work: Servitude, Slavery, and Labor in Medieval England, eds. Allen J. Frantzen and Douglas Moffat (Glasgow: Cruithne Press, 1994), 8. Interior cit. Honorius, Elucidarium, Patrologia cursus completus…Series Latina, ed. J.-P. Migne, 221 vols. (Paris, 1844-64), 177: 1147.49.

23. Thorlac Turville-Petre, “Politics and Poetry in the Early Fourteenth Century: The Case of Robert Manning’s Chronicle.” RES, New Series, 39.153 (1988): 1-28, here 21, emphasis added.

24. My documented ancestry is a mixture of Irish, Scottish, English and German—all peoples either directly or indirectly under the Frankish yoke at one time or another.

25. Michael Camille, Mirror in Parchment: The Luttrell Psalter and the Making of Medieval England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 281. We refer to the dark-skinned figure as a “white lawn jockey” because the simian carter is doing a peasant’s job, and the image is meant to represent an English laborer.

26. Robert Manning, The Chronicle of Robert Manning of Brunne, Part I, ed. F. J. Furnivall, The Story of England, 2 vols., Rolls Series lxxxvii (London, 1887). Cited in Turville-Petre, “Politics,” 26. Bracketed text and modernized rendering of lines 87-90 added. For the English as “lewed” men, see Manning, Chronicle, I.ll.6.

27. John S. Romanides, “The Cure of the Neurobiological Sickness of Religion, the Hellenic Civilization of the Roman Empire, Charlemagne’s Lie of 794, and His Lie Today,” part three, last accessed 20 February, 2012,

28. Freedman, Origins, 113. See also The Pseudo-Turpin…, ed. Hamilton Martin Smyser (Cambridge, MA: The Mediaeval Academy of America, 1937), and Philippe de Remi, sire de Beaumanoir, The Coutumes de Beauvaisis of Philippe de Beaumanoir (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992).

29. In The Peasantry of Europe (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), Werner Röesner pinpoints the origin of the peasantry at the heart of the Regnum Francorum: “Peasants in the full sense of the word…appear on the European stage only from the eleventh century onward, when an estate of peasants emerged and became an entity in its own right vis-à-vis an estate of knights.” “The basic features of the European peasantry are already discernible in the heartland of the eighth- and ninth-century Frankish kingdom, that is, the region between the Loire and the Rhine. As the centuries passed, they became more pervasive and spread beyond their place of origin” (20, 21). See also idem., Peasants, 12: “The peasant…was not an ancient figure unaffected by history but rather a historical figure that emerged in the high Middle Ages.”

30. Pierre Bonnassie, From Slavery to Feudalism in South-Western Europe, trans. Jean Birrell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 315-316, brackets in original. Int. cit. for “majority of manorial subjects” from Marc Bloch, Feudal Society, 2 vols., trans. L.A. Manyon (London and New York: Routledge, 1965), 1.262; int. cit. for “coloni, lites…” from idem., “Personal Liberty and Servitude,” 33-91 in Slavery and Serfdom in the Middle Ages: Selected Essays, trans. William R. Beer (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), 69.

This entry was posted in Feudalism, Franks, Middle Ages, Romaic Thesis, Romanides, Romanity, Romeosyne and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to James L. Kelley, “Frankish Civilization and the Origins of Anti-Worker Sentiment in the West”

  1. Pingback: JaysAnalysis – James Kelley Returns “The Zombie Mass” | Jay's Analysis

  2. JohnBartram says:

    ‘The Christian Conspiracy’ identifies Charlemagne as the founder of the false textual tradition for Christianity: http://origins-of-christianity.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-christian-conspiracy.html

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