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This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on religion and culture. Fraternities added to the texture of urban religious life, and further accentuated the scope for the agency and variety of lay religion. Urban wills are eloquent of a creative range of both devotional and fraternal ties, forged over a lifetime as so many means to address the challenges of life in the late medieval town. In addition to the material and spiritual support offered to their own members, guilds or fraternities often provided charitable support to a wider community. Although vastly depleted by Reformation and seventeenth-century iconoclasm, enough evidence survives to show how the fabric of a medieval city church functioned as a site for the construction of both social and religious identities. Yet, late medieval religious culture was too multivalent to be manipulated in the sole interest of bishops or magistrates.

in Towns in medieval England
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This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on social development. Urban society in the Middle Ages was in some important ways very like that of the countryside. The social experience of the town differed from that of its rural surroundings by virtue of its concentrated diversity and its fluidity. Late medieval observers often declared that they were looking at significant social change in the form of inferior artisans and their wives who affected the manners and dress of their betters. An element in the urban population prior to the end of the thirteenth century, the history of which was both tragically unique and yet absolutely characteristic, was the Jews. Following the Norman Conquest, Jewish settlers scattered themselves through sixty English towns. From well before the Conquest, English towns were home to longterm and short-term settlers from all other parts of Christendom.

in Towns in medieval England

This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on tensions an violence in medieval towns. Economic growth raised the stakes, leading to differentiation of wealth and status and encouraging increased competition for control of taxation and access to markets. During the long thirteenth century, as the medieval European economy expanded to its limits, a series of clashes over municipal jurisdiction sprang from a clear economic motivation. The university environment generated in peculiarly concentrated form a widely encountered tendency of young men in towns to congregate socially, to drink, and on occasion to prove their developing masculinity in acts of collective violence. As the medieval town was defined by the diversity of its component elements, so it was condemned to the strains of tension and to periodic violence. Most recorded incidents had their origins in domestic arguments, generational conflicts, tensions in the workplace or the perceived corruption of justices or tax officials, each of which was fostered by the multiple inequalities of urban society.

in Towns in medieval England
Selected sources

This book is the first collection of translated sources on towns in medieval England between 1100 and 1500. Drawing on a variety of written evidence for the significan and dynamic period, it provides an overview of English medieval urban history. Readers are invited to consider the challenges and opportunities presented by a wide range of sources. The merchant, for example, is seen from different angles - as an economic agent, as a religious patron and in Chaucer's fictional depiction. The prominence of London and the other major cities is reflected in the selection, but due attention is also given to a number of small market towns. Occasions of conflict are represented, as are examples of groups and societies which both contributed to and helped to contain the tensions within urban society. Changing indicators of wealth and poverty are considered, together with evidence for more complex questions concerning the quality of life in the medieval town. The book moves between the experience of urban life and contemporary perceptions of it - from domestic furnishings to legends of civic origins and plays in which townspeople enacted their own history.

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This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on urban government. The rhetoric of urban government emphasised the ideal of unity under the crown: several town councils claimed that their respective city was 'the king's chamber'. The assumptions behind medieval government were far from any modern principle of democracy. The underlying principle of citizenship was that full rights to participate in the economic opportunities of urban life carried a responsibility to share in its regulation through office-holding and to bear its costs by contribution to civic taxes. Monarchs under financial duress were the more willing to delegate powers for a financial return. No civic corporation under the aegis of the medieval English monarchy was allowed to forget that it exercised delegated authority on suffrance. The county towns, as an elite class of regional centres was defined by about 1100, would always be seen from the point of view of royal government as means for the expression and assertion of central authority.

in Towns in medieval England
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This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on urban growth. The use by English monarchs of their towns as frames for the spectacular display of royal power would have a long history. The different case of Bury St Edmunds exemplifies the potential of a monastic establishment to act as a catalyst of urban growth. A reflection of urban growth in the Anglo-Norman period are the bids by local groups of merchants for increased autonomy and scope to manage their affairs, free from the daily meddling of royal officials. A spectacular instance of urban promotion was the bishop of Salisbury's project to relocate both his cathedral and its surrounding city from the dramatic hilltop setting of 'Old Salisbury' to the foot of the escarpment. While archaeology has revealed traces of earlier settlement on the site of 'New Salisbury', the grid-planned and fortified town in the thirteenth century is a dramatic instance of ecclesiastical involvement in the urban expansion of the period.

in Towns in medieval England

In many ways, the opening years of Count Ludwig III of Arnstein's life seem to have been typical ones for a twelfth-century German count. The text translated in this chapter combines an account of Ludwig's life with a history of the Premonstratensian community at Arnstein. As it shows, Ludwig did not disappear from the world of the secular nobility after joining his religious foundation. On the contrary, his reputation amongst the local laity seems to have grown after he bound himself to the Premonstratensians. People flocked to his side, offering properties to Arnstein and asking Ludwig to help reform other monastic communities in the neighbourhood. This was because there was much spiritual capital to be gained by following a count who had dedicated himself to the religious life.

in Noble Society

This chapter translates the vivid description of the life of the noble lord Wiprecht of Groitzsch. It then offers a very different perspective on Henry IV and Henry V's reigns than the typical pro-Salian or pro-Saxon narrative sources. For understanding the political, social, religious and economic developments in the region between Saxony and Bohemia during the early twelfth century, it is a rich, almost unparalleled source. Wiprecht of Groitzsch has earned a reputation in modern scholarship as the social climber par excellence of the late Salian period. The turning point in Wiprecht's career seems to have been Henry IV's first Italian campaign during the early 1080s; according to the Deeds, Wiprecht led the Czech contingent alongside Czech king Vratislav's young son, Borivoj. Thereafter, Wiprecht of Groitzsch would be an increasingly prominent player in Saxon and imperial politics until his death.

in Noble Society
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This introduction provides historical background and a discussion of the translated texts. The book aims to illuminate the diversity of the aristocratic experience by providing five texts, translated into English for the first time, that show how noblemen and women from across the German kingdom lived and died approximately during 1075-1200. Margrave Wiprecht of Groitzsch emerges from these pages as a ruthless and cunning lord, one whose fortunes fluctuated dramatically as he played the games of court politics and local lordship with varying degrees of success. The extraordinary career of Bishop Otto I of Bamberg depicts how medieval Christians sought to convert pagans and convince them of the errors of their ways. An unnamed magistra, born into a ministerial family, wrote poems that have made scholars put forward various theories, in some cases identifying a pope or an archbishop of Salzburg as a potential patron for the text. A vita of the canoness Mechthild of Diessen, who had briefly been abbess of Edelstetten, written by the Cistercian monk Engelhard of Langheim. Finally the deeds of Count Ludwig III and a history of the Premonstratensian community at Arnstein.

in Noble Society

According to the translated text in this chapter, the unnamed magistra was born into a ministerial family belonging to the archbishops of Salzburg. She belonged to one of the most important Benedictine communities in the south-east of the German kingdom: the double monastery of monks and nuns at Admont in the march of Styria (today a part of Austria). During the twelfth century, the male community played an active role in reform circles, and many Admont monks were sent to other Benedictine houses across the south-east of the German kingdom to improve monastic practices in other communities. The chapter offers its readers a deeply personal account of the anonymous nun's life, written by another Admont nun who seems to have known her quite well.

in Noble Society