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.
This book provides a broad-ranging and accessible coverage of the role of noble women in medieval England. Throughout the Middle Ages the men and women of the nobility and gentry occupied a position at the top of the social hierarchy. Marriage for noble and gentry children was arranged by their families, with the participation on occasion of their lords and of the king, and it was relatively rare for the children themselves to take matters into their own hands. As with marriage, the woman's relationship to her husband and children has to be seen within the framework of canon and common law, the Church being concerned with the marriage itself, and the royal courts with property. The crucial importance of land as the source of wealth for noble and gentry society has been underlined in the discussion of both marriage and the family. Women's landholding is well documented, the amount of land in their hands varying according to the accidents of birth and fortune. The household was the centre and hub of the lady's life and activities, and can be regarded as a community in its own right. Men and women of the nobility and gentry living in the world were encouraged to practise their religion through attendance at Mass, private prayer on behalf of themselves and the dead, works of charity, pilgrimage, and material support of the Church. Although many women's lives followed a conventional pattern, great variety existed within family relationships, and individuality can also be seen in religious practices and patronage. Piety could take a number of different forms, whether a woman became a nun, a vowess or a noted philanthropist and benefactor to religious institutions.
This book covers one of the most controversial and shocking episodes in medieval English history, the 'tyranny' and deposition of Richard II and the usurpation of the throne by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV. Richard's deposition was arguably the most portentous event in the political history of late medieval England. The book represents all the principal contemporary chronicles from the violently partisan Thomas Walsingham, chronicler of St Alban's Abbey, who saw Richard as a tyrant and murderer, to the indignant Dieulacres chronicler, who claimed that the 'innocent king' was tricked into surrender by his perjured barons. Of the three most substantial contemporary chronicles which cover the earlier part of Richard's reign, two cease before 1397: namely the Westminster Chronicle, which ends in 1394, and the Chronicon Henrici Knighton, which peters out in 1395. Fortunately, the third, the Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham, continues through the revolution of 1399 and well beyond, right up to 1420. The Lancastrian, French and Cistercian chronicles are the principal narrative accounts of the years 1397-1400, though they are not the only ones. The book focuses on the course of the Bolingbroke-Mowbray dispute, or his description of the early events of the 'Epiphany Rising'.
Archbishop Wulfstan of York is among the most important legal and political thinkers of the early Middle Ages. A leading ecclesiastic, innovative legislator, and influential royal councilor, Wulfstan witnessed firsthand the violence and social unrest that culminated in the fall of the English monarchy before the invading armies of Cnut in 1016. This book introduces the range of Wulfstan's political writings and sheds light on the development of English law during the early eleventh century. In his homilies and legal tracts, Wulfstan offered a searing indictment of the moral failures that led to England’s collapse and formulated a vision of an ideal Christian community that would influence English political thought long after the Anglo-Saxon period had ended. More than just dry political theory, however, Wulfstan’s works are composed in the distinctive voice of someone who was both a confidante of kings and a preacher of apocalyptic fervour. No other source so vividly portrays the political life of eleventh-century England: what it was, and what one man believed it could be.
This book offers a range of new perspectives on the character and reputation of English monasteries in the later middle ages. The later middle ages was an era of evolution in English monastic life in late medieval England. The book surveys the internal affairs of English monasteries, including recruitment, the monastic economy, and the standards of observance and learning. It looks at the relations between monasteries and the world, exploring the monastic contribution to late medieval religion and society and lay attitudes towards monks and nuns in the years leading up to the Dissolution. The book covers both male and female houses of all orders and sizes. The late medieval 'reforms' of the Benedictine Order included a relaxation of observances on diet, the common life and private property, and little of the Cistercians' primitive austerity can be found in late medieval houses of the order. Monastic spirituality can rarely be accessed through visitation evidence or administrative records, although an impression of the devotional climate within individual houses is occasionally provided by monastic chronicles. Looking beyond the statistics of foundation and dissolution alone, levels of support for the monastic ideal in late medieval England might also be assessed from the evidence of lay patronage of existing houses.
This source book offers a comprehensive treatment of the solitary religious lives in England in the late Middle Ages. It covers both enclosed anchorites or recluses and freely-wandering hermits, and explores the relation between them. The sources selected for the volume are designed to complement better-known works connected with the solitary lives, such as the anchoritic guide Ancrene Wisse, or St Aelred of Rievaulx’s rule for his sister; or late medieval mystical authors including the hermit Richard Rolle or the anchorite Julian of Norwich. They illustrate the range of solitary lives that were possible in late medieval England, practical considerations around questions of material support, prescribed ideals of behaviour, and spiritual aspiration. It also covers the mechanisms and structures that were put in place by both civil and religious authorities to administer and regulate the vocations. Coverage extends into the Reformation period to include evidence for the fate of solitaries during the dissolutions and their aftermath. The material selected includes visual sources, such as manuscript illustrations, architectural plans and photographs of standing remains, as well as excerpts from texts. Most of the latter are translated here for the first time, and a significant proportion are taken from previously unpublished sources.
This book presents a rough translation of the Annals of St-Bertin (AB). The AB give a detailed record of events in the Carolingian world, covering the years 830-882. They constitute the most substantial piece of contemporary historical writing of their time, a time that was a critical one in western European history. The AB contain uniquely extensive information about Viking activities, constructive as well as destructive, and also about the variety of responses to those activities. Produced in the 830s in the imperial palace of Louis the Pious, the AB were continued away from the Court, first by Bishop Prudentius of Troyes, then by the great scholar-politician Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims. The AB have little information for the year 840 after the death of Louis the Pious, and something like the earlier density of reporting is resumed only with the battle of Fontenoy. From 841 on, the AB were based in the western part of the old empire, in what became, with the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the kingdom of Charles the Bald. Thus the division of Verdun is, again, faithfully reflected in the AB's record. From time to time, information was received from Lothar's Middle Kingdom, and from Louis the German's East Frankish kingdom; but the AB's main focus after 843 was on events in the West and on the doings of Charles the Bald.
This book is our principal source for the history of the Kingdom of Sicily in the troubled years between the death of its founder, King Roger, in February 1154 and the spring of 1169. It covers the reign of Roger's son, King William I, known to later centuries as 'the Bad', and the minority of the latter's son, William II 'the Good'. The book illustrates the revival of classical learning during the twelfth-century renaissance. It presents a vivid and compelling picture of royal tyranny, rebellion and factional dispute at court. Sicily had historically been ruled by tyrants, and that the rule of the new Norman kings could be seen, for a variety of reasons, as a revival of that classical tyranny. A more balanced view of Sicilian history of the period 1153-1169 has been provided as an appendix to the translation in the section of the contemporary world chronicle ascribed to Archbishop Romuald II of Salerno, who died in April 1181. In particular the chronicle of Romuald enables us to see how the papal schism of 1159 and the simultaneous dispute between the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the north Italian cities affected the destiny of the kingdom of Sicily. In contrast to the shadowy figure of Pseudo-Hugo, the putative author of the principal narrative of mid-twelfth-century Sicilian history, Romuald II, Archbishop of Salerno 1153-1181, is well-documented.
This book talks about the story of Thomas Becket's turbulent life, violent death and extraordinary posthumous acclaim in the words of his contemporaries. The story and the issues often require explanation and interpretation, and it is sometimes necessary to fill in the gaps left by the biographers. It is hoped that by reading about him in the words of his biographers, others will be encouraged to investigate further the unresolved features of his life. Both medieval and modern commentators have tended to take more interest in Thomas of Canterbury than in Thomas of London. The earliest recorded disputes in which Thomas was involved as archbishop relate to his attempts to retrieve Canterbury properties. Thomas's establishment as archbishop led to a crisis of unprecedented severity between the crown and the Church in England. His rift with his former friend the king, and the progress of the dispute which led to public confrontation and prolonged exile, was keenly followed all over the Christian world. Thomas's flight and prolonged exile moved the dispute onto a new plane. His heroic attempt to shield the archbishop from the knights' blows earned him a place in the saint's legend, and in many visual representations of the martyrdom.
The towns of later medieval Italy were one of the high points of urban society and culture in Europe before the industrial revolution. This book provides more inclusive and balanced coverage of Italian urban life in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In looking for the chief features of Italian communal cities, it focuses on: the unity of city and dependent countryside, the stability of population, urban functions, the development of public spaces, social composition, the development of autonomous institutions, and civic culture. The book begins with three of these: Bonvesin da la Riva's innovative description of Milan, Giovanni da Nono's more conventional, but lively description of Padua, and an anonymous, verse description of Genoa. It also focuses on the buildings and their decoration, and urban 'social services'. The book then addresses Italian civic religion. It explores production and commerce: the effects of monetary affluence, the guilds and markets, government interventions to stimulate production, to regulate exchange, and to control the city's population. The book deals with social groups and social tensions: popolo against magnates, noble clans against each another, men against women, young men against city elders, Christians against Jews, freemen against slaves, food riots and tax revolts, acts of resistance and indecency. Finally, it examines the great variety of political regimes in late-medieval Italy: from consolidated communes such as Florence or Venice, to stable or unstable 'tyrannies' in Pisa, Ferrara or Verona.