Tristan Sharp

  • Fellowship year:2021-2022
  • University: University of Chicago
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Early Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Wars, Feuds, and Enmities- the Violent State of Late Medieval Germany: 1350-1500
  • The dissertation, Wars, Feuds, and Enmities, the Violent State of Late Medieval Germany: 1350-1500, aims to provide an alternative interpretation of conflict and violence in the late medieval Holy Roman Empire by deconstructing the category under which organized violence has been understood within the dominant tradition of German historiography: the feud (die Fehde). In this tradition, the institution of the feud has been understood as a tightly delineated juridical category of lawful, organized violence. The feud was thus closely tied to defending and claiming formal legal rights among noble and non-noble lordships within the body politic of the empire. However, as this dissertation argues, this conception of the feud has brought historians to exclude those socio-political, economic-demographic, and cultural-affective aspects of the feud that cannot be assimilated into this legalistic discourse. Properly historicizing feuding and organized violence in the Late Middle Ages, necessitates, as this dissertation contends, giving these neglected facets more prominence. To this end, this dissertation advances a more capacious reading of conflict on the basis of archival research undertaken with support of a Fulbright grant (2019/2020). Making use of previously untouched archival evidence from central Germany and adjoining regions (Saxony, Thuringia, Saxon-Anhalt, Bavaria, and Lower Saxony), it explains the crucial significance of these aforementioned contexts, namely how cultural and affective conventions underpinned late medieval violence, the honor-enmity culture from which these conventions were derived, and the economic factors and motivations connected to endemic feuding and warfare. The larger implication of this dissertation lies in how it offers an alternative to the legalitarian discourse that has conditioned historians to approach pre modern violence and conflict in a manner that reduces what was arguably one of the principle organizing structures of pre-modern societies into an abstract system of norms.