Macht das Spiel den Herrscher? Brettspiele als höfische probitas

Caflisch, Sophie (2018). Macht das Spiel den Herrscher? Brettspiele als höfische probitas. In: Aydin, Karen; Ghosh-Schellhorn, Martina; Schlange-Schöningen, Heinrich; Ziegler, Mario (eds.) Games of Empires. Kulturhistorische Konnotationen von Brettspielen in transnationalen und imperialen Kontexten. Transcultural Anglophone Studies: Vol. 5 (pp. 169-188). Berlin: Lit Verlag

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The medieval discourse on power and ruling was basically threefold. Authors elaborated on physical, material and symbolic resources of power. In terms of symbolic power, courtly probitates became very important in the 10th century. In this study, I explore the role of board games in the making of a ruler in both narrative and normative sources. In Widukind of Corvey’s Deeds of the Saxons holy Roman emperor Otto I’s affinity to board games is used to feature him as a ruler whose power is based not on coercion but on education. In the 12th century Chanson of Daurel et Beton, little Beton increases the court society’s love for him by a thousand times because he always wins and at the same time behaves ideally in play. In the 13th century Jacobus de Cessolis’ legend surrounding the origins of chess even tells us of the board game’s power to convert a former tyrant into a wise ruler. In a mirror of princes by Giles of Rome, games are considered capable to enhance a ruler’s humble self-reflection. In these narrative structures board games enable the ruler to attain one of his most important resources of power: The affection of his subjects.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


01 Faculty of Theology > Department of Protestant Theology [discontinued] > Institute of Church History [discontinued] > Early Church History and the History of Dogma [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Caflisch, Sophie


900 History
900 History > 940 History of Europe




Transcultural Anglophone Studies


Lit Verlag




Sophia Elisabeth Caflisch

Date Deposited:

30 Jan 2019 09:07

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:23




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