From Violence to Order: Changing Ideas of Tyranny during the Latin Middle Ages
In modern parlance, tyranny generally connotes the exercise of power by means of violence or the threat of violence, often by a single autocratic or authoritarian ruler. Likewise, in medieval Europe, the term "tyrant" was synonymous with an oppressive and dominating regime that was lawless and impious. In contrast, a king by definition always governed for the good of his people, according to virtue and religion. Gradually, however, a number of political authors began to chip away at the apparently absolute distinction between tyranny and kingship, coming to regard this differentiation to be unrealistic or invidious or both.
About the series: The CHHC program is organized around an ongoing series of two-year interdisciplinary research modules, developed and coordinated by a small group of Caltech faculty members and Huntington residential research fellows. The 2016–2018 CHHC module, titled "Violence and Order Past and Present," studies the various roles that violence has played in political and social order, as well as the possible norms and cultural attitudes that have governed its use. Learn more at chhc.caltech.edu.