Identity in the Middle Ages encompassed numerous methods of transmission. Those of which that survive today include artwork, architecture, and written sources. In the case of written sources, the nobility and the clergy dominated the narrative to a substantial degree. Chroniclers of the Holy Roman Empire in specific saw both regional and pan-imperial narratives influence this identity through the exploration of historical figures. The medieval duchy of Bavaria fell into this milieu but experienced a substantially different relationship with its nobility from the twelfth century onward. The more condensed and consolidated format of medieval Bavaria under the Wittelsbach dynasty – as well as conscious efforts to project said configuration backward through history via chronicles – resulted in a uniquely Bavarian aristocratic identity into the early modern period. This aristocratic identity was the result of chroniclers' pedagogical and didactic intention across laity and clergy in informing the mores and values of the Bavarian nobility, in addition to the history of their institution. Through Latin and later vernacular chronicles, courtiers and clergy expressed the veneration or damnation of key historical figures in Bavarian history to instill values and sets of ideal behaviors by the end of the fifteenth century. This thesis explores the changing narratives of three such figures, all of whom acted as thematic antagonists to prominent German kings and emperors: Tassilo III, Arnulf the Bad, and Henry the Lion. Ultimately, the widespread virtues of piety, respect for the clergy, and subservience to the emperor formed the main pillars of Bavarian aristocratic identity. However, Bavarian chroniclers required preexisting clerical traditions of chronicling, as well as adherence to the official narratives of the house of Wittelsbach, in order to fit these dissenting historical figures into a usable symbolic context.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Bohmer, Luke, "The Redeemed, the Condemned, and the Forgotten: Narratives of Dissenting Aristocratic Identity in Medieval Bavaria" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6733.