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Titre Mobilités, accueil et hiérarchies sociales dans l'Occident romain tardo-antique (IVe-VIe siècles)
Auteur Claire Fauchon-Claudon, Marie-Adeline Le Guennec
Mir@bel Revue Revue historique
Numéro no 697, janvier 2021
Page 159-183
Résumé Aux périodes classique et tardive, le monde romain connaît des formes d'accueil variées (hospitalité privée et publique, prise en charge par les communautés politiques ou religieuses, accueil mercantile…), bien implantées en ville comme le long des routes ; mais tous les lieux et modalités d'accueil étaient-ils identiquement accessibles aux voyageurs ? À la période classique, le statut social déterminait directement leur capacité à avoir recours à ces différentes formes d'accueil, même si les normes pouvaient être contredites par les pratiques : les comportements attendus des élites étaient ainsi particulièrement contraints, leur fermant en théorie la porte des auberges tout en exigeant d'eux qu'ils disposent d'un réseau d'hospitalité étendu. Cet article envisagera la manière dont cette répartition sociale de l'accueil se recompose à l'époque tardo-antique, notamment à partir du moment où le christianisme devient la religion officielle de l'Empire romain d'Occident et où l'accueil de l'autre est érigé en règle universelle. L'évolution, réelle ou apparente, des mentalités ne s'accompagne pas forcément de réels changements dans les pratiques. Le cas d'étude des évêques montre notamment combien les paradoxes affleurent entre ces exigences nouvelles de la morale chrétienne et le maintien des cadres traditionnels de la société romaine. Le temps long constitue ainsi un cadre particulièrement fructueux pour une approche sociale de l'accueil et des mobilités dans l'Occident romain antique.
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Résumé anglais Through Classical and Late Antiquity, various types of reception practices and places (private and public hospitality, reception by political or religious communities, commercial hospitality, and so on) thrived throughout the Roman world, in urban contexts as well as along roads. Did every traveler have access to all forms of accommodation, to the same degree and with the same conditions? During the classical era, social status determined whether one was hosted en route, although norms and habits were sometimes contradicted in practice. Elites were expected to behave according to strict rules that for instance forbid them to patronize inns; they were also supposed to develop wide networks of hospitality.This paper will address the way in which the social distribution of reception and accommodation practices evolved along Roman roads in late Antiquity, especially when Christianity became the official religion of the Western Roman Empire, and hospitality began being regarded as the universal duty of the good Christian. It shows that in terms of travel logistics, the evolution of mentalities, whether real or alleged, did not necessarily lead to profound changes in practices.The first section deals with various social challenges that faced people traveling on roads during Late Antiquity: the necessities and contingencies of travel could blur their identities or force them to lower expectations based on their social status or religious beliefs, in terms of standing, of prestige, and, for the Christian aristocrats, in terms of asceticism. Throughout the period, food seems to be the main issue for aristocratic travelers, although its meanings evolved significantly from the imperial gourmets to the frugal Christians. Common features can be observed in the way social status influenced one's travel and reception options: hospitality kept playing its essential role as a social indicator for aristocrats, then as earlier.The second section addresses the tensions that could arise during travel, and especially, in line with the focus of this paper, during stopovers. Whereas during Classical Antiquity such tensions would be read in terms of social confrontations, Christianity led to a renewed attention to morality issues. Theoretically, the Christian Church strictly forbade its official to stay at inns, fearing the promiscuity and various temptations to which the cleric could be exposed in such establishments: but progressively, in order not to obstruct Christian mobility, travel began being considered as an exception to this rule, at least when no other options were available. The need for more acceptable options, nevertheless, quickly led the Church authorities, from the ivth century on in the East and a few decades later in the West, to develop their own reception network, based on xenodocheia/xenodochia that would host Christian travelers in general and pilgrims in particular along the roads, and provide assistance to the poor and the sick.Finally, we explore the case study of bishops' travels between the fourth and sixth centuries, which exemplify the various tensions and paradoxes that would arise, in matters of reception and accommodation, between the new demands of Christian morals and the traditional organization of Roman society. Frequently on the roads, bishops were stuck between their search for comforts, the social importance of private hospitality, and the necessity to visit their colleagues and their sometimes rather shabby official residences. Various issues of reception that developed during the Late Western councils reveal the increasing importance of a new factor: religious orthodoxy. In this context, the ability to hosting and be hosted became part of broader religious and political conflicts for power among bishops representing various tendencies inside the Christian church.
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