The Carolingians and the Ends of Empire, c. 795-840


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




This project examines the “ends of empire” in the 8th-9th century in both geographical and ontological terms and considers how the two informed one another. It rethinks early medieval perceptions of the nature, aims, and responsibilities of empire in light of contemporary interactions across religious, cultural, and linguistic boundaries in early medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. Far from being of peripheral concern, ties to the Islamic, pagan, and wider Christian worlds were central to the Carolingians’ understanding and exercise of imperial power. In the early Middle Ages, empire was no longer simply a matter of territorial control; it was a question of ideological authority, even across political boundaries, above all within the scattered communities of the Christian faithful.