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Durham e-Theses
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Bruno von Rappoltstein: Power relationships in later medieval Alsace

Carter, Geoffrey (2007) Bruno von Rappoltstein: Power relationships in later medieval Alsace. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis uses three key episodes from the career of the fourteenth-century Alsatian nobleman, Bruno von Rappoltstein (c.1335-1398) to paint an image of noble power and aristocratic self-consciousness in a border region between Francophone and German speaking spheres of influence in one of the traditional heartlands of the Holy Roman Empire. Bruno von Rappoltstein came to prominence in the second half of the fourteenth century. This was period of significant change in the wake of the Black Death. Bruno was an inveterate feuder and became involved in a series of disputes which occupied most of his adult life and which brought him into conflict with a range of powerful authorities. The manner in which Bruno conducted himself in the face of threats and pressure from the city of Strassburg, the Empire, Richard II of England, the Pope and other greater lords and the ways in which a number of these sought to use the circumstances to further their own agendas provides an insight into the realities of political power within the Empire at that time. Bruno’s mentality and his sense of personal and dynastic identity are explored. His inability to adapt behaviour that was acceptable within his own domain to his dealings with greater authorities is shown to have been a leading cause of his ultimate failure which left his heirs with substantial debts and which may be seen as the beginning of a process leading to the family coming increasingly under Habsburg control over the following century. The thesis also considers the extent to which Bruno was manipulated in his feuding by more powerful princes in the context of recent scholarship (most notably that of Dr. Hillay Zmora) which suggests that such manipulation was an important factor in princely state-building. Dr. Zmora's thesis is based on a study of noble feuding in Franconia in the sixteenth century. This thesis finds nothing to contradict Zmora's views but raises a question as to the extent to which they are necessarily valid outside of the period and region of his research. An appendix to the thesis details the career of the English knight. Sir John Harlestone, who played a central role in one of Bruno's disputes and who is an interesting figure in his own right.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:56

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