The story of how the Etichonids, who had been dukes of Alsace going back to the seventh century, came to identify themselves by the eleventh merely as a local comital
family is a revealing case study in the transformation of post-Carolingian Europe.
The family, who became the Counts of Barcelona, moved from a comital
power that was considered "private, heritable, and divisible property" (138) to primogeniture and consolidation.
title (that is, his earldom) had been given to him by Matilda, Henry II's mother, and for this reason he may have expected some degree of latitude from her son.
148, n.12), coupled with comital
rewards to Reconquest campaigners, caused an upsurge of violent local lordship.
But this took place within a polity which from its inception had scarcely known the concept of public order thought to have characterized Carolingian west Francia until around the millennium; even in ninth-century east Francia there is little sign of the comital
courts or placita which Wickham sees as so characteristic of the Carolingian order.(37) The Ottonians ruled, but did not govern (except in the limited sense of organizing their fiscal resources in east Saxony quite intensively).