Mittelalterliche Geschichte

Derek R. Benson, M.A.

Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft
Seminar für mittelalterliche Geschichte
Wilhelmstraße 36
72074 Tübingen

Büro: Wilhelmstraße 12, Raum 2.01, 2.OG

E-Mail: derek.bensonspam

Akademischer Werdegang

  • 2010-2014 – BA Geschichtswissenschaft und Französisch an der Universität Nebraska-Omaha
  • 2015-2017 – MA Geschichtswissenschaft (Schwerpunkt Mittelalterliche Geschichte) an der Western Michigan Universität
  • seit May 2021 – Promotionsstudium an der Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen (Dissertation: Neither Peasant nor Lord: The Property, Labor, and Money of the Urban and Rural Tenants in the Territory of Béziers and Agde (Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries)


  • Feudale Revolution
  • Die Drei Ordnungen (imaginaire féodale)
  • Status und Identität
  • Zisterziensorden
  • Micro-history
  • Sozialgeschichte
  • Wirtschaftsgeschichte


  • Benson, Derek R. “Life among Good Women: The Social and Religious Impact of the Female Cathar Perfectae in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Lauragais” [Thesis], Western Michigan University, 2017
  • Benson, Derek R. “The ‘Traitor’ of Béziers: Petrus Vairatus, the Murder of Raymond Trencavel, and the Revolt of 1167” (forthcoming)

Dissertationsprojekt an der Universität Tübingen

Arbeitstitel: Neither Peasant nor Lord: The Property, Labor, and Money of the Urban and Rural Tenants in the Territory of Béziers and Agde (Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries)

This project intends to investigate the social history of the medieval Biterrois and Agathois, the Mediterranean zone around the cities of Béziers and Agde, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In doing so, it will not only provide new insights into this specific region, its peasants and the concept of “meridional” or southern feudalism, but also open up new perspectives in the long running and contentious debates on feudalism, feudal society and the “Lehnswesen” in general. Based on the rich documentary tradition, specifically, the divergent strategies of the use of land, labor, and money by members of the elites as well as the peasant stratum will be reconsidered. The abundant records of property transactions from this region, transmitted in several ecclesiastic cartularies, and primarily the “bail à acapte” or the acaptum lease, will allow for such an investigation. The records of this specific form of property transfer—similar to the German “Inwärtseigen”—bring a social stratum into focus that has so far been understudied: non-noble families that owned land and had access to substantial sums of money which allowed them to participate in the land market. Through these diplomatic sources, it is possible to study the use of land, labor, and money by this social stratum both in town and the country. These do not conform to established categories of land holding, such as peasant land tenures, fiefs (noble and otherwise), and allods. Neither do they match preconceived notions of high medieval society, such as the “Three Orders”, the “imaginaire féodale”—for those who prayed, fought, and worked could be practically indiscernible in the records of their property transactions that they left behind. 


The project is pioneering in several respects. Firstly, it examines a hitherto hardly considered source genre and thus opens up a new perspective on the vagueness of the seemingly fixed high medieval estates. Secondly, this project aims to link the French, German and Anglophone research traditions on the subject, which have hitherto largely operated in isolation from one another.