Over the past fifteen years the theme of the early medieval elites has been at the core of an especially intense period of research. Sporadic attention has been paid to the processes of creating a social elite through relational and cliental networks. My essay shows how several different studies (dedicated to a diverse range of situations, contexts and distant chronologies) offer us interesting possibilities for reflection on this matter. At the same time, there is the emergence of a specific example of efficacy in relational policies in the framework of the Carolingian Empire, within which can be observed processes of consolidation of local elites, capable of dominating both their own communities and extending their networks towards the highest echelons of the kingdom.
Keywords: Early Middle Ages, Elite, Historiography, Relational Networks, Patronage