Special issue - Political Society in the British Isles, c. 1200-1500
This special issue covering 'Political Society in the British Isles, c. 1200-1500' has been curated for Reviews in History by Matt Raven, a Scouloudi Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. The selections generally concentrate on the aristocracy, and include books covering Edward I's earls, Eleanor of Provence, the English gentry, parliament, heresy, the Wars of the Roses, Margaret of Anjou, medieval Scotland, the parish Church, Tudor England and the long social revolution.
The medieval English parish was a fiendishly complex organism, whose intricacies become increasingly brain-frazzling as their microscopic analysis advances.
As Professor Gunn observes in his foreword, this book has been a long time coming: first mooted in fact in 1985 (a very suitable date). This has had two significant consequences which I shall discuss sequentially.
Despite the substantial historiography of Edward I’s reign, this is the first real attempt to examine in depth the relations between this king and his earls at a crucial time in the development of both monarchy and nobility. Edward I is a king now remembered mainly for his ‘masterfulness’ when dealing with the English nobility, a term with which Spencer takes some issue.
Michael Hicks’s new book on the Wars of the Roses seeks to offer a general explanation of the civil wars that dominated English political life in the second half of the 15th century. Declaring that ‘many textbooks on Late Medieval England have been written by the best academic historians and survey what happened, and yet they still do not explain the Wars’ (p.
Land, Law and People in Medieval Scotland is best viewed as six self-contained studies under two broad headings: ‘Land and law’ and ‘Land and people’.
What can we know about late-medieval, pre-Reformation English parliaments? Previous to this book, only a few secondary scatterings. The English Parliaments of Henry VII 1485–1504, therefore, pulls this topic together, gives synthesis to such scattered references, and then thoroughly researches and documents extant bits and pieces from contemporary primary evidence.
David Rollison has written a remarkable work of social and political history: vertiginously ambitious, A Commonwealth of the People showcases England’s constitutional and economic development from the 11th to the 17th century within world histories of nationalism, democratization, and globalization. ‘My subject’, he writes, ‘is the emergence of a “civilization”’ (p. 16).
A few years ago, I pestered friendly Lollard scholars with a question which tended to flummox them slightly: how did English bishops know how to prosecute heretics? The broadest outlines of a reply had been sketched, in an article from 1936 by H. G. Richardson and another by Margaret Aston in 1993. In addition, Anne Hudson and J. A. F.
Scotland's history is increasingly well served by textbooks: in addition to the Edinburgh History of Scotland (four volumes, 1965-75) and the New History of Scotland (eight volumes, 1981-4), we now have the New Edinburgh History of Scotland (10 volumes, in progress), not to mention Michael Lynch's substantial and phenomenally successful Scotland: A New History (2nd ed
The central place of petitioning in the work of the English parliament has long been recognised: the 18th-century editors of the rolls of parliament included unenrolled petitions in their text wherever they felt able to assign them to a particular assembly, and to this day Members of the House of Commons may deposit written petitions in a bag provided for this purpose at the back
Margaret of Anjou, unlike most medieval queens, has been the subject of many biographies over the centuries but Helen E. Maurer's feminist approach to the queen's political life offers a substantially new presentation of Henry VI's queen.
Recent years have seen a blossoming of secondary literature on medieval queens and queenship, a development which owes much to the impetus provided by Pauline Stafford’s path-breaking study, Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King’s Wife in the Early Middle Ages (1983). Several essay collections, including J. C. Parsons ed., Medieval Queenship (1993) and A. J.