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Celebration and Persuasion: Reflections on the Cultural Evolution of Medieval Consultation

Thomas N. Bisson
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 7, No. 2 (May, 1982), pp. 181-204
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/439666
Page Count: 24
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Celebration and Persuasion: Reflections on the Cultural Evolution of Medieval Consultation
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Abstract

Medieval parliamentary behavior is habitually explained as an original form of political action. But it was continuous with a mode of ritual consensus which long bore little resemblance to political debate and which persisted vigorously throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. This essay depicts persuasion as historically rooted in celebration. Drawing examples from the early history of territorial assemblies in western Europe, it points to a characteristic type of conciliar rhetoric, at first more deferential than argumentative, and to the circumstances in which increasingly political behavior was limited by this structural or cultural reality.

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