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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies


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Publication details for Professor David Rollason

Rollason, David (2016). The Power of Place: Rulers and their Palaces, Landscapes, Cities, and Holy Places. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Author(s) from Durham


The Power of Place explores the nature of power—the power of kings, emperors, and popes—through the places that these rulers created or developed, including palaces, cities, landscapes, holy places, inauguration sites, and burial places. Ranging across all of Europe from the first to the sixteenth centuries—from Prague and Seville to Palermo and the Oslo Fjord—David Rollason examines how these places conveyed messages of power and what those messages were.
Rollason draws on the latest research in a range of disciplines—principally archaeology, and the histories of art, architecture, and landscape, as well as historical and literary studies—to investigate what the power of rulers consisted of. Was their power based on impersonal bureaucratic mechanisms, on personal relationships between rulers and subjects, or on strong beliefs in the quasi-divine status of rulers? How did impressive edifices support and emphasize these practices of power? Rollason takes readers to spectacular sites, including the remarkable remains of the tenth-century city of Madinat al-Zahra near Cordoba, the remarkably preserved palace-church of the emperor Charlemagne in Aachen, and the soaring shrine-church of the Saint-Chapelle of King Louis IX.
Giving readers the tools to analyze rulers' palaces, landscapes, cities, and holy places, The Power of Place offers a fascinating perspective on the development of power throughout history.