My research in Tübingen focuses on the role of trade and production in fostering socio-economic change and the development of communities in post-Roman England and Francia, roughly between the fifth and the seventh centuries. In particular, I am investigating how control and exploitation of basic natural resources, such as iron and salt, can shed light on the development of elites and peasants and the shaping of social stratification. My work focuses on how the landscape of exploitation changed or continued after Late Antiquity, and I look at interactions between elites, peasant agency, the function of exchange, and competition or collaboration between political actors for controlling resources.
The aim is to understand how such interactions shaped new landscapes of power, and to account for regional variabilities. This research involves a comparison between England and Francia, since northern Francia displays profound similarities with England in the fifth century, such as weak post-Roman continuity, early political fragmentation, and articulation of aristocratic power. Because more written sources survive for Francia than for England, it is possible to draw a highly articulated picture of the nexus between resources, trade and communities in the Frankish kingdoms, and what their results were on a political level. The comparison can also help us understand why initial similarities generated radically different results – with the Merovingian kingdoms in the sixth century being much more structured and powerful political entities than any polities in England.
As part of this project, I am currently working on economic ties between early monastic foundations, particularly those in frontier areas, and their landscape, to understand whether and in which cases a link can be seen between the process of establishing monasteries and the control and exploitation of natural resources and trade.
For more information about Irene Bavuso, please click here.