Integration and confrontation
in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Chapter 10 continues the cultural analysis begun in chapter 9. It looks at the day-to-day interactions between immigrants and native-born people in later medieval England, considering four particular aspects of the subject: the process of working together; the effects of inter-marriage; the evidence for alien-only organisations in politics and religion; and the patterns of settlement by aliens in towns. It concludes that the vast majority of immigrants were well integrated into the host community. The second half of the chapter consists of a careful analysis of all known episodes of organised violence against immigrants in England between 1300 and 1550, including the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 and the so-called Evil May Day of 1517. Almost all of these incidents took place in London, and almost all of them were directed quite specifically at the ‘Flemings’ – a label that denoted not just people from Flanders, but more generally the subjects of the duke of Burgundy. Conflict was never spontaneous, and was often provoked by powerful groups – especially the textile manufacturers of London – who were suspicious of the rights and privileges accorded to skilled alien immigrants. These conflicts therefore stand, in the main, as part of the much more specific tension between English guilds and foreign competitors, also addressed in chapters 2 and 6. They cannot in themselves be read as evidence that English society as a whole showed active hostility to the presence of aliens within the country.


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