Matt Raven (Hull), Scouloudi Fellow (6 months)

The Earls of Edward III, 1330-60

I did my BA degree at the University of Nottingham from 2010-13, before moving to Cambridge to complete an MPhil in Medieval History from 2013-14. The subject for my research dissertation at Cambridge was the creation of six new earls by Edward III in 1337. This stemmed from an interest in aristocratic and royal power structures in the fourteenth century and how they fitted together. In turn, this topic grew into my fully-funded doctoral thesis, ‘The Earls of Edward III, 1330-60’, at the University of Hull, which I started under Dr Andrew Ayton and Dr Colin Veach in 2014.

This thesis examines the careers of twenty-two earls active under Edward III, within the wider social, intellectual and institutional contexts framing their lives. In order to provide this context, the thesis first considers the place of the earls in contemporary political thinking by examining sources ranging from literature and poetry to the language of everyday writs. A number of obligations are shown to be assumed to rest on the earls by virtue of their elevated social position and the responsibility that entailed: these included counselling the king in the common interest, partaking in warfare and diplomacy portrayed as being undertaken for the defence of the realm, and engaging in local governance and law enforcement in the localities. The thesis then examines the earls’ careers in relation to these ideas to see how these responsibilities were negotiated and met, and to establish the significance of the earls to the mid-fourteenth century polity.

I have examined one area of the relationship between the king and his earls in ‘Financing the Dynamics of Recruitment: King, Earls and Government in Edwardian England, 1330-60’, in D. Simpkin, G. Baker and C. Lambert (eds), Military Communities in Late Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Andrew Ayton (Woodbridge, forthcoming). This chapter shows how the king provided his earls with the cash they needed for their retinues to function in an extremely tight financial environment, which in turn allowed them to fulfil their role as the king’s chief military companions.

More broadly, I am interested in the structures and processes of government and governance across the medieval and early modern periods, and have reviewed the ground-breaking collection of essays The Politics of Counsel in England and Scotland, 1286-1707, ed. J. Rose (Oxford, 2016) for the Reviews in History website, associated with the Institute and the School of Advanced Study (review no. 2072).