The Favor of Friends offers the first book-length exploration of intercession—aid and advocacy by one individual or group in behalf of another—within early medieval aristocratic societies. Drawing upon a variety of disciplines and historiographical traditions, Sean Gilsdorf demonstrates how this process operated, and how it was ideologically elaborated, in Carolingian and Ottonian Europe, allowing individuals and groups to leverage their own, limited interpersonal networks to the fullest, produce new relationships, gain access to previously closed spaces, and generate interest in their agendas from those able to effect change. The Favor of Friends enriches our understanding of early medieval politics and rulership, offering a model of political interaction in which hierarchy and comity do not stand in ideological and pragmatic tension, but instead work in integrated and mutually-reinforcing ways.
This article examines artistic representations of intercession (third-party advocacy) in early medieval Europe c. 800-1100, focusing upon how a common Byzantine intercessory schema (the Deēsis) was adopted and adapted by Western artists. I argue that the Deēsis composition, while used in a variety of ways in medieval Europe, underwent a number of significant transformations which reflect a different sense of the intercessory process and the role of its participants. In particular, Western artists re-cast Deēsis in order to incorporate the petitioner within the representative frame, a change that gave greater importance to the propinquity of petitioner and intercessor than to the latter's exalted status vis-à-vis the (heavenly) ruler.