Search results

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.

Author: John Edwards

As European politics, society, economy and religion underwent epoch-making changes between 1400 and 1600, the treatment of Europe's Jews by the non-Jewish majority was, then as in later periods, a symptom of social problems and tensions in the Continent as a whole. This book discusses the history and background of the Jewish presence in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe. As far as the late medieval Church was concerned, the basis for the treatment of Jews, by ecclesiastical and secular authorities, was to be found in the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council of the Roman Church, which were issued in 1215. The book is concerned with Jewish economic activities for their own sake, and Jews' financial relations with Christian rulers. It then concentrates on other aspects of the dealings which went on between European Jews and their Christian neighbours. The book includes the Jews' own economic presence and culture, social relations between Jews and Christians, the policies and actions of Christian authorities in Church and State. It draws upon original source material to convey ordinary people's prejudices about Jews, including myths about Jewish 'devilishness', money-grabbing, and 'ritual murder' of Christian children. Finally, the book demonstrates from the outset that much of the treatment of European Jews, in the period up to the Reformation and thereafter, was to be a practical result of the controversies within 'Christendom' on the subject of authority, whether ecclesiastical or secular.

Author: Mark Bailey

This book aims to provide a broad introduction to the structure and composition of the English manor between c. 1200 and c. 1500 and to serve as a user's guide to its principal records. It considers the form, evolution and usefulness to historians of a group of closely related records: surveys, custumals, extents, terriers and rentals. Manorial accounts build upon the 'static' information contained in surveys, extents and rentals by recording in detail how the individual elements of the manor were managed and what they actually yielded over the agricultural year. The earliest known manorial accounts survive from the bishop of Winchester's estate in the 1200s and 1210s, where they were enrolled with other estate and household records. The abundant records of manor courts represent the single most important source for the study of English local society in the Middle Ages, and offer unique and highly detailed information relating to a wide range of subjects. The book provides a general introduction to the manorial court, its format, procedures and business, and its usefulness to the historian, and considers changes to its business in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The decline of the frankpledge system, and by extension the declining powers of the leet court, is mirrored by a fall in the business conducted in manor courts during the fifteenth century.

Abstract only
Author: Rosemary Horrox

From 1348 to 1350 Europe was devastated by an epidemic that left between a third and one half of the population dead. This book traces, through contemporary writings, the calamitous impact of the Black Death in Europe, with a particular emphasis on its spread across England from 1348 to 1349. It charts the social and psychological impact of the plague, and its effect on the late-medieval economy. Focusing on England, an exceptionally well documented region, the book then offers a wide range of evidence for the plague's variegated repercussions on the economy and, no less complex, on social and religious conduct. It is concerned with the British experience of plague in the fourteenth century. Students of intellectual history will find a wealth of pseudo-scientific explanations of the plague ranging from astrological conjunctions, through earthquakes releasing toxic vapours, to well poisoning by Jews. From narrative accounts, often of heartrending immediacy, the book further proceeds to a variety of contemporary responses, drawn from many parts of Christian Europe. It then explains contemporary claims that the plague had been caused by human agency. The book attempts to explain the plague, which was universally regarded as an expression of divine vengeance for the sins of humankind.

Ninth-Century Histories, Volume I
Author: Janet L. Nelson

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.

Abstract only
Ninth-century histories, volume II
Author: Timothy Reuter

This book presents a rough translation of the Annals of Fulda (AF). By the ninth century annals were one of the major vehicles for historical writing within the Frankish empire. The AF are the principal narrative source written from a perspective east of the Rhine for the period in which the Carolingian Empire gave way to a number of successor kingdoms, including the one which was to become Germany. AF offer the major narrative account of the east Frankish kingdom from the death of Louis the Pious down to the end of the ninth century. The surviving manuscripts are only an echo of what must once have been a much more extensive transmission, to judge by the use made of AF by a number of later annalists and compilers. The brief description of the manuscript tradition must be amplified by looking at the content of the annals. For the years 714 to 830 the work is undoubtedly a compilation which draws on earlier annals, in particular on the Royal Frankish Annals and the Lorsch Frankish Chronicle, with occasional use of other smaller sets of annals and saints' lives. The account of the origins of AF was heavily criticised by Siegmund Hellmann in a number of articles written some fifteen years after the appearance of Friedrich Kurze's edition in 1891.

Author: Diana Webb

The saints' Lives in this book were written in Italy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Here translated into English and in full for the first time, they shed light on the ways in which both lay men and women sought God in the urban environment, and how they were understood and described by contemporaries. Only one of these saints (Homobonus of Cremona) was formally canonised by the Pope: the others were locally venerated within the communities which had nurtured them. Earliest in date were Homobonus of Cremona and Raimondo Palmario of Piacenza, near-contemporaries and inhabitants of neighbouring cities, who died in 1197 and 1200 respectively; the latest was Enrico ('Rigo') of Bolzano, who died in Treviso in 1315. This was a period of rapid demographic and economic growth in the Italian urban environment; it witnessed much social and political upheaval, accompanied by religious change. Miracle collections are important hagiographical genre for some saints. The miracles which Umiliana de' Cerchi did in the first three years after her death and her posthumous appearances to her devotees were separately recorded, constituting, together with the Life, a hagiographical dossier. Umiliana and Pier Pettinaio were associated with the Franciscans, while Homobonus and Raimondo Palmario lived and died before 'the coming of the friars'. The Lives of both Pier Pettinaio of Siena and Rigo of Bolzano were written some time after their deaths, apparently to satisfy local and community pietas. There is no cross-reference between the Lives of Zita of Lucca and Rigo of Bolzano and their extensive miracle collections.

Author: Graham A. Loud

The Norman kingdom of Sicily is one of the most fascinating and unusual areas of interest within the discipline of medieval history. The unification of the island of Sicily with the southern Italian mainland in the years after 1127 altered the balance of power in the Mediterranean and had a major impact on the power politics of Europe in the central Middle Ages. Count Roger II of Sicily was crowned as the first king of the new kingdom of Sicily in Palermo cathedral on Christmas Day 1130. Two principal narrative texts, the 'History of King Roger' of Abbot Alexander of Telese and the Chronicle of Falco of Benevento, reveal diametrically opposing views of King Roger and his state-building. Alexander of Telese suggested that Roger deliberately cultivated an image of restraint and remoteness that he might be feared by evildoers, and the chronicle attributed to Archbishop Romuald of Salerno said that he was more feared than loved by his subjects. If the German sources show the expedition of 1137 from the viewpoint of the invaders, the Montecassino chronicle depicts it from that of the recipients, trying to safeguard their own interests in the face of conflicting pressures on them. The 'Catalogue of the Barons' is a source of great importance for the study of the kingdom of Sicily in the mid-twelfth century, both for the military system and for the structure of landholding in the mainland provinces, but it is a problematic text.

Italy, France, and Flanders

This book explains the forms of popular protest before the Black Death in later Medieval Europe. It focuses on 'a contagion of revolts' following the Black Death from around 1355 to 1382. The book documents the best-known revolt in France before the French Revolution, the Jacquerie. The revolt spread from the Beauvaisis as far east as Bar on France's frontier with the Holy Roman Empire but lasted a mere two weeks, 28 May to 10 June 1358. The book also focuses on the best known of the urban revolts of the fourteenth century, the Revolt of the Ciompi, which set off with a constitutional conflict in June 1378, and whose regime in alliance with minor-guild artisans lasted until mid-January 1382. It then views the 'cluster of revolts' of northern France and Flanders, 1378 to 1382, concentrating on the most important of these, the tax revolts of the Harelle in Rouen and the Maillotins or hammer men in Paris. It looks beyond the 'cluster' to the early fifteenth century. While intended principally for students, the book aims to stimulate new research on popular protest in the Middle Ages. It includes a Parisian student conflict against the troops of the duke of Savoy in 1404.

Abstract only
The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg
Author: David A. Warner

The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg has long been recognised as one of the most important sources for the history of the tenth and early eleventh centuries, especially for the history of the Ottonian Empire. Although there is sufficient evidence of continuity between the Ottonians and the early Salians to justify a long Ottonian period extending at least to 1056, it is the Ottonians alone who defined the mental landscape of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg. Thietmar's testimony also has special value because of his geographical location, in eastern Saxony, on the boundary between German and Slavic cultures. He is arguably the single most important witness to the early history of Poland, and his detailed descriptions of Slavic folklore are the earliest on record. Among anglophone readers, Thietmar's reputation rests chiefly on the various studies of Ottonian society and politics produced by the late Karl Leyser, one of the most influential historians of his generation. Although Thietmar placed great importance on kings and royal politics, he was scarcely reticent when it came to expressing his opinions on other matters. Notwithstanding his emphasis on the Divinity's role in directing Ottonian kings, Thietmar did not conceal the fact that the effect of royal government could be disruptive.