Politics, Mediation and Communication (De Weerdt et al)Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz
This week’s #RetroConflictsInspirations is provided by the collaborative work of Hilde de Weerdt, Catherine Holmes, and John Watts, ‘Politics, c.1000-1500: Mediation and Communication’, Past & Present 238 (2018), 261-296.
Combining case studies spanning from Song China to late and high medieval Byzantium and France, the three authors suggest a new way to write a global history of medieval politics. Akin to New Diplomatic History, they are less interested in comparing institutions and trajectories than in analyzing the practices of politics ‘the messier ways in which power is negotiated.’ Focusing on mediation and communication, they show how actors as different as Chinese students or French and Byzantine noblemen and town assemblies acted as mediators in interaction and conflicts between high powers, communities, and individuals. Apart from the common interest in actors, processes, and practices, it is the article’s methodology which influences our project as a whole. Its approach of combining regional studies to assimilate findings and establish common patterns is also highly valuable when analyzing case studies stretching from London to Tallinn. But it also inspires us to look further: How can our understanding of the #Hanseatic world add towards writing a bigger, global history of conflict management?