Medieval Dynasties in Medieval Studies: A Historiographic Contribution


The article provides an overview of the current research on the notion, idea and perception of dynasties in medieval Europe. It deals with a variety of studies and books that focus on dynasty and dynastic historical writing within Central Europe, as well as outside this region. The main goal is to provide a selection of examples of how the notion of dynasty can be used in current historiographic discourse. First and foremost, dynasty in medieval studies seems to be (to a certain extent) another intellectual construct applied to the period in question. Just like any other similar concepts, like medieval, feudalism, ritual, community, etc., it helps historians to describe our modern understanding of the phenomena. As a result, dynasty has become a highly fashionable term and a popular recurring theme used in the historiography of the Middle Ages. Medieval dynasties are defined based on family, kinship and shared tradition. In fact, they should not be seen only as a biological line of relatives, but, even more importantly, as a political construct. Last, but by no means least, dynasty should always be scrutinized in connection with genealogy, idoneity and legitimacy.