Nur ein Spiel!

Helmut Kern
2015 unpublished
"Nur ein Spiel" – "Just a game!" focusses on the analysis of the function of hostages as political instrument in negotiations in the Holy Roman Empire of the 11th to 13th century. After a brief introduction into the concept of "political hostage" we investigate important cases of voluntary hostages over the course of 230 years (1124-1254). In these times, hostages were given mainly for purposes of guaranteeing loyalty, submission, truce or to secure a peace. In most cases, hostages remained
more » ... , even when the hostage giver broke the agreement. This essay deals with the question if that was the case for rational grounds or if hostages had simply to be seen as part of a medieval ritual. In the analysis, we apply game theoretic models. As a result we find that the concept of rituals does not sufficiently explain the use of hostages in the Middle Ages. Game theory delivers a more promising approach though. Using the example of the siege of Crema we explain that cases of hostage taking at that time can be explained by rational behaviour in today´s terms even when happening in a different cultural context. By this model we could also explain the changing importance of the monarch virtues clementia and iustitia in these times. We conclude by suggesting that game theory be a proper auxiliary science of historic research even for events long dated back.
doi:10.25365/thesis.36697 fatcat:sh6iqvc3ajgthfif5ljmah6qsy