In order to kick off our research network, we held a series of webinar workshops on 12–13th September and 12–13th December 2022. These were organised around our two working group themes: ‘Barons and the Public Good in a Transnational Context’ and ‘Minority Élites and Government in a Transnational Context’.
Each member presented informal introductions to their case studies, followed by group discussion. They were extremely fruitful meetings, and the conversations at the September event allowed for development of ideas for consideration in December. A recurring theme was the need to interrogate terms in order more fully to understand connexions and contrasts in our comparative framework. Of particular importance were noted the idea of ‘conquest’, the category of ‘non-royal élites’, and the framing of ‘public good/commonweal’. We also agreed that a theme that required further attention was the role of ‘religion’ or the metaphysical in understanding pre-modern societies’ conceptions of the political good. Network participants will continue to discuss these ideas in shared draft documents as they prepare their fuller papers for presentation at our May conference in Oxford.