Fourteenth Century England - Vol. 2

Fourteenth Century England - Vol. 2

Fourteenth Century England - Vol. 2

Fourteenth Century England - Vol. 2


The fourteenth century was, for the English, a century which witnessed dramatic and not always easily explicable changes of fortune. In 1300, England's population was around seven million, and Edward I seemed to be on the verge of turning the British Isles into an English Empire. By 1400, its population was between three and four million (due mainly to the Black Death), dreams of a 'British' empire had all but crumbled, and instead England had become embroiled in a war - the Hundred Years' War - which was not only ultimately disastrous, but which also established the French as the 'national enemy' for many centuries to come. In addition, despite the fact that before 1300 no reigning English monarch had ever been deposed, by 1400 two had: Edward II in 1327, and Richard II in 1399. Sandwiched between these two turbulent reigns, however, came that of Edward III, one of the most successful, both politically and militarily, in English history. It is against the background of these remarkable fluctuations that the articles in this volume, the second in the Fourteenth Century England series, have been written. The range of subjects which they cover is wide: from princely education to popular heresy, from national propaganda to the familial and territorial power politics which occasioned the downfall of kings. Taken together, they reinforce the view that, whether viewed as calamitous or heroic, the fourteenth century was never less than interesting.CHRIS GIVEN-WILSON is Professor of Late Medieval History, University of St Andrews.Contributors: MARTIN ALLEN, JOHN ARNOLD, PAULETTE BARTON, TOM BEAUMONT-JAMES, ALASTAIR DUNN, JEFFREY HAMILTON, JILL C. HAVENS, ANDY KING, CARLA LORD, SHELAGH MITCHELL, MICHAEL PRESTWICH, ARND REITMEIER, NIGEL SAUL.


Fourteenth Century England I, published in 2000 under the editorship and on the initiative of Nigel Saul, marked the start of an attempt to do for the fourteenth century what was already being done for both the thirteenth and the fifteenth: that is, to provide a regular forum for the dissemination of ideas, information and research in progress on a substantial yet discrete period of the English middle ages. The intention of both the publishers and the editors is to continue to publish volumes at two-yearly intervals, and preparations for Fourteenth Century England III are already well under way.

Unlike its stable-mate Thirteenth Century England, Fourteenth Century England is not based on conference proceedings, but is an 'open' journal. True, it does include a number of articles originally given as papers in the sessions organised by the Society for Fourteenth-Century Studies at the International Medieval Congress held at the University of Leeds each July, but in fact these only make up a minority of the essays printed in the present volume (three of the thirteen). Potential contributors should, then, be aware that the editors are happy to consider submissions from all those with relevant research interests ― broadlydefined as political, social, economic, religious or cultural history during the 'long' fourteenth century in England (or with a direct bearing on English history).

Such an editorial policy means that Fourteenth Century England volumes are not themed, as indeed will be immediately obvious from the table of contents. Political, social, economic, religious and cultural history are all represented here. Michael Prestwich and Alastair Dunn explore important themes relevant to the political failure of Edward II and Richard II respectively ― the loyalty of household knights, and the treatment of magnate inheritances. Arnd Reitemeier and Shelagh Mitchell focus more closely on specific aspects of Richard II's kingship ― his upbringing and education, and his use of livery collars ― while Carla Lord explores French manuscript sources in an attempt to clarify Queen Isabella's position at the French court as she prepared to invade England and depose her husband. Two further articles centre on Anglo- Scottish hostilities during the fourteenth century: Andy King analyses the ways in which the defence of Northumberland against Scottish raids was organised, while Tom Beaumont James asks whether there might have been any truth in the allegations put forward by Scottish chroniclers that the person responsible for the killing of John of Eltham, Edward III's younger brother, at Perth in 1336, was none other than the English king himself. War is also Nigel Saul's concern, although in his case not the conduct of the war per se but the reasons why criticism of the government's pursuit of its war policy both increased and changed tack during the later years of the century.

Three further articles are concerned with the history of religion in late medieval England. The first, by Paulette Barton, examines the schematic arrangement of misericords in parish churches and cathedrals. The other two investigate different aspects of the 'English' heresy of the fourteenth century . . .

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