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The Blackwell Companions to British History enjoy a reputation for quality of scholarship, clarity of text and range.
A Man and an Institution is in reality three books combined into one. It is, first, a contribution to a biography of Sir Maurice Hankey, the first Cabinet Secretary; second, a history of the origins of the Cabinet Office and its development until Hankey’s retirement in 1938; and third, an account of how the Cabinet Office came to be the guardian of official secrecy.
“Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?” – Augustine, City of God, IV.4.
In October 1283, Edward I stood in a unique position. He had achieved a goal which had eluded his predecessors back to the time of the Conquest: the subjection of Wales. His military campaigns to assert his overlordship had begun six years previously, but now his dominance was final. This in itself was unique, but the episode had a more significant aspect.
Bradbury’s text is a delightful read. His text discusses the Capetian dynasty of kings, from the events that brought the family to power in the tenth century up to the death of Charles IV in 1328. Charles died without male heirs, and so the kingship passed to a collateral line, the Valois.
This is a book of exceptional originality and importance. Dr Martínez Hernández has written a biography of Don Gómez Dávila y Toledo (1541–1616), II Marquis of Velada, but such is the breadth of his research that his book reshapes our understanding of the courtly politics and of the policymaking processes at the Spanish court in the critically important period from the 1560s to the 1620s.
In March 1279 King Edward I commissioned a great inquiry into landholding in England. The surviving returns were arranged by hundred, hence their name ‘the Hundred Rolls’, and give a picture of rural society which, in its level of detail, goes far beyond that found in Domesday Book. If this was intended as a second Domesday, it was a superior version of it.
This book is the result of a bold and innovative research project funded between 1999 and 2002 by the then Arts and Humanities Research Board, with further funds provided subsequently by a number of scholarly institutions. The preface further acknowledges the support of a glittering array of scholars, not least Geoffrey Parker who read through the entire draft.
The central place of petitioning in the work of the English parliament has long been recognised.
Law and Authority in Early Modern England is a tribute to a professor of law and history at the University of California, Berkeley who has for over 40 years made important contributions to early modern English history. In fact, as the editors point out, Tom Barnes hardly confined himself to England.