Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

Following the segmentation of the Western part of the late-Roman empire into multiple new successor states, personal communication between bishops and other members of the elite were maintained to varying degrees of success. While previous work had fo-cused on political disruptions or on individual and group migration, my work instead asks how fixed families and religious groups responded to political fragmentation and main-tained their social connections across borders, and investigates what mechanisms and costs were involved to ensure the reliable delivery of messages between different king-doms and permit continued family dependencies.

With a focus on the dynamics that permitted reliable letter exchange and a community of mobile letter bearers, rather than the ideas or connections being exchanged, the study will enrich new work on epistolary communication and letter bearers in Late Antiquity while also contributing to wider questions about the power dynamics surrounding mobility in communication networks. Through analysing the relationships and structures of social (and implicit economic) dependency between letter senders, bearers, recipients and way-point hosts, rather than looking directly for monetary exchanges, it aims to establish a model that can be used comparatively to assess change across the late Roman world. To develop this framework, the project will focus on Latin collections from the fourth to sev-enth-century AD Gaul and North Africa, read comparatively with Roman and Carolingian material.

For more information about Rebecca Grose, please look here.