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From fields to squares and gardens
Elizabeth McKellar

The process of urban growth generated a series of changes whereby old spaces became transformed into new ones, open land and countryside were swallowed up by bricks and mortar, and outlying villages and farms were transmuted into first suburban and then in time inner-city areas. Lincoln's Inn Fields represents a different strand in the creation of the quintessential London space. Lincoln's Inn Fields in Strype's view looks like nothing more than an extension of the landscape of the adjacent Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn. The first two squares in London, Covent Garden of 1631 and Lincoln's Inn Fields of c. 1640, demonstrate both the creative architectural mix which formed the English square and the competing demands made on these new urban spaces.

in The birth of modern London
Abstract only
Conflicting perspectives on the modern city
Elizabeth McKellar

London in the seventeenth century was one of the most important and rapidly expanding capitals in Europe. From the 1660s onwards it was transformed from an essentially medieval town of wooden buildings located within the City walls to a modern metropolis of brick and stone which broke its traditional bounds and spilled out in all directions. John Strype in his 1720 updating of Stow's Survey of London provided a commentary on the social standing of the different areas he described, through his use of the terms 'well', 'good' and 'poor'. From the late sixteenth century onwards building was prohibited in London by legislation and Royal decree, leading to proclamations against the practice in 1580 and 1602 and an Act of Parliament in 1593.

in The birth of modern London
Dame Janet L. Nelson

This chapter deals with the Carolingian Empire as a relatively short-lived but highly significant and influential ‘moment’ in western European history. It considers first the nature of Carolingian governmentality as an exercise in Foucauldian bio-power, as something that one might describe as a ‘family-state’. It asks whence the Carolingian Empire derived its income (taxation or tribute?) and how its public state structures operated. The chapter turns next to identity, and how a Frankish identity was constructed and maintained, operating alongside and sometimes against other, more particular ethnic identities. Finally, it examines the religious component to the Carolingian Empire: the cultivation of a form of theocratic religiosity that demanded a great deal of its rulers and of its ruled in terms of the expectations of their faith and their religious practice.

in Debating medieval Europe
The early Middle Ages, c. 450 –c. 1050
Editor: Stephen Mossman

This is the first of a two-volume textbook that is aimed at first-year undergraduates as they begin their study of medieval history. It covers the period from the so-called ‘fall of Rome’ in the course of the fifth century through to the ‘Norman moment’ in the course of the eleventh. The textbook covers the broad geographical area defined by the former Western Roman Empire in an even-handed fashion, giving equal attention to Iberia and to Sicily as to England and to Francia. Each chapter deals with a given region within a defined chronological framework, but is structured thematically, and deliberately avoids a narrative presentation. The topics of governmentality, identity and religiosity serve as broad overarching categories with which to structure each chapter. The authors outline the scholarly debates within each field, explaining to a student audience what is at stake in those debates, and how different bodies of evidence and different interpretations of that evidence give rise to different perspectives upon early medieval European history. Medieval history can seem to the student as if it were an impenetrable thicket of agreed fact that just has to be learned: nothing could be further from the truth, and this textbook sets out to open the way to an engaged understanding of the period and its sources.

The Christian kingdoms and al-Andalus
Charles Insley

This double-length chapter considers both the Christian and Muslim kingdoms in the early medieval Iberian peninsula, starting with a presentation of the ideologically charged debates over reconquista and despoblación that have characterized the historiography of this region. A concise synopsis of the historical narrative, unique to this chapter, aids orientation given the unfamiliar and fragmented geopolitical framework. The chapter then examines in what Christian kingship in the polities of northern Spain may have consisted of, a study undertaken in comparison with the very different nature of Andalusian rule focused on the city of Córdoba. Identity and religiosity are discussed together. The contentious paradigm of convivencia, defined as the coexistence of peoples of different faiths, and the considerable scholarly debates – in recent times extremely heated – are discussed.

in Debating medieval Europe
From Alfred to the Norman Conquest
Paul Oldfield

This chapter examines the British Isles from the late ninth to the mid-eleventh century, and begins with a discussion of state formation, in which England has been argued to be precociously bureaucratized in comparison with its close neighbours. It sets out the debate concerning ‘English exceptionalism’ – whether later Anglo-Saxon England was, in fact, an embryonic ‘nation-state’, considering the nature of English governmentality as systematic and intensive. It considers to what extent a parallel phenomenon can be detected in Scotland, whereas elsewhere in the British Isles similar processes do not seem to have been at work, though temporary hegemonies did emerge. In terms of identity, it considers to what extent regional identities survived alongside the intentional cultivation of an ‘English’ identity by a political elite in the tenth century. Finally, it addresses the question of the Christianization of the British Isles, particularly with reference to the areas with most extensive Scandinavian settlement, and the monastic reform movements of the tenth century that connected the Anglo-Saxon Church with continental trends.

in Debating medieval Europe
Abstract only
Transformations around the year 1000
Paul Fouracre

The momentous historiographical debates surrounding the idea of a ‘feudal revolution’ stand at the centre of this chapter. It considers, first, the nature of social and political change in Francia in the decades around the year 1000, and the putative shift in a post-Carolingian world towards a privatization of public power: or whether, in fact, these changes are just tricks of the evidentiary light, the product of shifts in documentary culture. It turns next to the emergence of the new social stratum of knights, and changes to family and kin structure as the basis for personal identification, together with an apparent rise of unfreedom as individuals sought the protection of the Church against the warlords. Finally, it considers the rising donations to Frankish monasteries in this period, and their concomitant growth in status. It assesses the ‘Peace of God’ movement as an ecclesiastical response to violence, driven by those newly empowered monasteries.

in Debating medieval Europe
A guide for students
Stephen Mossman

In place of an introduction, this first section – before the chapters proper – sets out the conception of the textbook for an undergraduate audience. It speaks directly to the student reader and explains the geographical and chronological restrictions within which the textbook operates. It sets out the three guiding themes of governmentality, identity and religiosity that structure each chapter, and explains what the authors of the chapters understand by them. The front cover of the volume, which reproduces the frontispiece of the Liber vitae from the New Minster, Winchester, is explored in order to demonstrate the interplay and significance of these three themes. A final note explains the balance that each author has tried to achieve in the presentation of bibliography between English- and foreign-language items, and how the short-form references in the footnotes and the bibliography should be used to pursue the study of particular issues.

in Debating medieval Europe
Stephen Mossman

The final chapter considers the Normans as a trans-regional entity and so functions as a counterpart to the broad geographical context of the first chapter. It begins by exploring the debate surrounding Norman administration: whether the Normans were responsible for introducing a particularly advanced governmental administration into areas they occupied, or whether they co-opted pre-existing structures. Here the Domesday Book in England is an important case study. The chapter turns next to the question of Norman identity: whether there was a common sense of ‘Norman-ness’ across the different areas conquered and ruled by Normans, and for how long and to what extent common bonds remained. It considers the extent to which Normans imposed change on the religious institutions and practices (notably the cult of saints) that they encountered locally. Finally, it discusses the Norman cultivation of a sense of being divinely guided in their mission of conquest, and the hotly debated question of whether the Norman conquest of Sicily ought consequently to be considered the ‘real’ First Crusade.

in Debating medieval Europe
Paul Fouracre

This chapter considers the history of those polities that were formed across western Europe in the wake of the Roman Empire: many relatively short-lived, but others of much greater longevity, some of which are seen as the ancestors of modern European nation-states. It considers first their nature as ‘states’, questioning the utility of that term to describe what were often very large territories indeed, extensively governed but in a very shallow manner, with only limited purchase on the lives of the governed. It turns then to the question of identity, initially picking up the theme of ethnic labels raised in the first chapter, before turning to law and social status as arguably much more important markers of identity. Finally, it considers the religious life of the period: the great proliferation of holy men (and some women), the Christian saints, accounts of whose lives give us so much of our evidence for this period, and the widespread foundation of monasteries, in which those accounts were written and copied.

in Debating medieval Europe