The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, 1066-C.1280

The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, 1066-C.1280

The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, 1066-C.1280

The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, 1066-C.1280

Synopsis

This volume provides a readable and authoritative account of the history of the British Isles from the Norman Conquest of England, to the eve of the Welsh against Edward I in 1282. At the beginning of the period, much of Britain belonged, as did Ireland, to the Vikings. The transformation ofthe archipelago by the end of this period is explored and explained in this volume. Six sharply focused chapters consider the fundamental changes that occurred in this period: the changing political and social structure and the adaptability of the aristocracy instrumental in these changes; thereforms that affected the ecclesiastical landscape; and the effects on economic life of the growth of a monetised economy. The influence of the natural environment and communications on life in medieval times are discussed in the Introduction. The approach is comparative, bringing out both the sharpcontrasts between the experience of the several parts of the British Isles and the similarities. With chapters contributed by a team of experts, Harvey explores the interactions between the parts of the British Isles to provide a clear and incisive history of this fascinating period.

Excerpt

It is a truism that historical writing is itself culturally determined, reflecting intellectual fashions, political preoccupations, and moral values at the time it is written. in the case of British history this has resulted in a great diversity of perspectives both on the content of what is narrated and the geopolitical framework in which it is placed. in the late twentieth century the process of redefinition has positively accelerated under the pressure of contemporary change. Some of it has come from within Britain during a period of recurrent racial tension in England and reviving nationalism in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. But much of it also comes from beyond. There has been a powerful surge of interest in the politics of national identity in response to the break-up of some of the world's great empires, both colonial and continental. the search for new sovereignties, not least in Europe itself, has contributed to a questioning of long-standing political boundaries. Such shifting of the tectonic plates of history is to be expected but for Britain especially, with what is perceived (not very accurately) to be a long period of relative stability lasting from the late seventeenth century to the mid-twentieth century, it has had a particular resonance.

Much controversy and still more confusion arise from the lack of clarity about the subject matter that figures in insular historiography. Historians of England are often accused of ignoring the history of Britain as a whole, while using the terms as if they are synonymous. Historians of Britain are similarly charged with taking Ireland's inclusion for granted without engaging directly with it. and for those who believe they are writing more specifically the history of Ireland, of Wales, or of Scotland, there is the unending tension between socalled metropolis and periphery, and the dilemmas offered by wider contexts, not only British and Irish but European and indeed extraEuropean. Some of these difficulties arise from the fluctuating fortunes and changing boundaries of the British state as organized from London. But even if the rulers of what is now called England had never taken an interest in dominion beyond its borders, the economic and cultural relationships between the various parts of the British Isles would still have generated many historiographical problems.

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