Ph.D. Candidate, History
2018-2019 Tedder Doctoral Fellow
Luc Houle received a Tedder Doctoral Fellowship for his dissertation project titled “On the Margins of Medieval Power: Ramon Berenguer V and Mobility,” which explores how power functioned in thirteenth-century Provence and the implications of this for a broader understanding of mobility and power in the Middle Ages.
In the case of Ramon, control over territory was not a top priority. While authority over particular castles, toll stations, and urban centers was clearly important in the Count’s charters, this kind of authority was used as a means to an end. Control over territory was parlayed in exchange for more mobile forms of power: money, military service, marriage, and hospitality. With this in mind, I argue that mobility itself must become a unit of historical analysis in order to understand how power was exercised in medieval Europe.
The Tedder funding allowed Houle the time to conduct an exhaustive survey of charters and notarial documents to track Ramon’s movements, his financial transactions, his military maneuvers, and the marriage arrangements for his four daughters. It provided him with dedicated time to transcribe and translate these important records which have rarely been used in Anglophone historiography. This work contributes to the dissertation as a whole, but particularly a chapter called “Letters and Diplomacy: Mobile Power in Action” which employs a close study of texts to understand the impact of mobility on diplomatic negotiation. Additionally, this work led Houle to create digital maps to track and measure Ramon’s movements across space and time.