Kinship and Conquest
Family Strategies in the Principality of Salerno during the Norman Period, 1077-1194
Historians of Medieval Europe have long employed the family as a window through which to explore broader social, political, and economic issues. Drawing primarily on the abundant charter sources in the archive of S.S. Trinità at Cava dei Tirreni, Joanna H. Drell has reconstructed the history of family relationships in the Principality of Salerno from its conquest by the Normans in 1077 to the death of the last Norman king in 1194. In Kinship and Conquest, Drell challenges historians to modify their views on the nature of medieval family structure. Complicated ties of blood and marital kinship enabled the Norman kings to solidify their central authority in the Kingdom of Southern Italy and Sicily. The author finds that in the principality a broad range of kin participated in the management of family property, and that kinship networks remained highly flexible. Drell mines the Cava archive to illuminate not only the composition of the noble families and the nature of kinship networks, but also the extent of genealogical memory, the depth of Norman cultural influence, and the strategies the families used to transfer patrimonial holdings and, hence, political power. One of the first books to integrate the Italian South into the larger history of Medieval Europe, Kinship and Conquest is a novel contribution to the rich historiography on kinship and political power in western Europe.