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John of Salisbury (c. 1120–80) is a key figure of the twelfth-century renaissance. A student at the cosmopolitan schools of medieval Paris, an associate of Thomas Becket and an acute commentator on society and rulership, his works and letters give unique insights into the political culture of this period. This volume reassesses the influence of classical sources on John’s political writings, investigating how he accessed and used the ideas of his ancient predecessors.

By looking at his quotations from and allusions to classical works, O’Daly shows that John not only borrowed the vocabulary of his classical forbears, but explicitly aligned himself with their philosophical positions. She illustrates John’s profound debt to Roman Stoicism, derived from the writings of Seneca and Cicero, and shows how he made Stoic theories on duties, virtuous rulership and moderation relevant to the medieval context. She also examines how John’s classical learning was filtered through patristic sources, arguing that this led to a unique synthesis between his political and theological views.

The book places famous elements of John’s political theory - such as his model of the body-politic, his views on tyranny - in the context of the intellectual foment of the classical revival and the dramatic social changes afoot in Europe in the twelfth century. In so doing, it offers students and researchers of this period a novel investigation of how Stoicism comprises a ‘third way’ for medieval political philosophy, interacting with – and at times dominating – neo-Platonism and proto-Aristotelianism.

The lacy family, 1166-1241
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This book examines the rise and fall of the aristocratic Lacy family in England, Ireland, Wales and Normandy. As one of the first truly transnational studies of individual medieval aristocrats, it provides a fresh look at lordship and the interplay between aristocracy and crown from 1166 to 1241. Hugh de Lacy (†1186), traded on his military usefulness to King Henry II of England in Wales and Normandy to gain a speculative grant of the ancient Irish kingdom of Mide (Meath). Hugh was remarkably successful in Ireland, where he was able to thwart the juvenile ambitions of the future King John to increase his powers there. Hugh was hailed by native commentators as ‘lord of the foreigners of Ireland’ and even ‘king of Ireland’. In this study his near-legendary life is firmly grounded in the realities of Anglo-Irish politics. The political career of Hugh’s less famous son and heir, Walter de Lacy (†1241), is in turn illuminated by surviving royal records and his own acta. Walter was one of the major actors in the Irish Sea province under Kings Richard I, John and Henry III, and his relationship with each king provides a unique insight into the nature of their reigns. Over the course of fifty-two years, Walter helped to shape the course of Anglo-Irish history. That history is recast in light of the transnational perspective of its chief participants. This book is a major contribution to current debates over the structure of medieval European society.

Debating the medieval English peasantry

The study of the medieval English peasantry began in the nineteenth century as an adjunct to the study of other themes. Medievalists have tended to assume that modern working definitions of peasant, as proposed by Thorner et al., are sufficiently accommodating as to make room for a medieval English peasantry and conceive of a peasant society operating in medieval England. The book describes the ways in which historians have discussed change within the village community, notably in the pre- and post-Black Death village communities. It examines the ways in which debates or particular avenues of research have emerged from three main strands of research: population movement and its determining; the demands and constraints of the seigneurial economy and of resistance to the same; and the development of commerce and the market. The book analyzes the peasant family and household in demographic terms and by looking at household formation, age at marriage and the size and structure of the peasant household, as well as the evolution of the peasant household in the high and late middle ages. It suggests that the study of the medieval peasantry is not a plaything of historical fashion, subject only to the whims and musings of historians the views of whom are rooted only in the present; it reflects a nuancing and refining of questions that will lead to a fuller understanding of a topic and period of great and enduring interest.

After many years at the margins of historical investigation, the late medieval English gentry are widely regarded as an important and worthy subject for academic research. This book aims to explore the culture of the wide range of people whom we might include within the late medieval gentry, taking in all of landed society below the peerage, from knights down to gentlemen, and including those aspirants to gentility who might under traditional socio-economic terms be excluded from the group. It begins by exploring the origins of, and influences on, the culture of the late medieval gentry, thus contributing to the ongoing debate on defining the membership of this group. The book considers the gentry's emergence as a group distinct from the nobility, and looks at the various available routes to gentility. Through surveys of the gentry's military background, administrative and political roles, social behaviour, and education, it seeks to provide an overview of how the group's culture evolved, and how it was disseminated. The book offers a broad view of late medieval gentry culture, which explores, reassesses and indeed sometimes even challenges the idea that members of the gentry cultivated their own distinctive cultural identity. The evolution of the gentleman as a peer-assessed phenomenon, gentlemanly behaviour within the chivalric tradition, the education received by gentle children, and the surviving gentry correspondence are also discussed. Although the Church had an ambivalent attitude toward artistic expression, much of the gentry's involvement with the visual arts was religious in focus.

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Society, allegory and gender
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This book on Geoffrey Chaucer explores the relationship between Chaucer's poetry and the change and conflict characteristic of his day and the sorts of literary and non-literary conventions that were at his disposal for making sense of the society around him. Critics who consider the social meaning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools: those who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day and those who see Chaucer as possessing a more heterodox voice. Many of the present generation of Chaucer critics have been trained either as 'Robertsonians' or as 'Donaldsonians'. For D. W. Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for E. Talbot Donaldson, there are 'no such poems in Middle English'. The book sets out the basics of the Augustinian doctrine of charity and of medieval allegorical theory and examines 'patristic' interpretations of Chaucer's work, particularly of the 'Nun's Priest Tale'. It looks at the humanist alternative to the patristic method and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the patristic approach. The book also outlines some of the major medieval discourses about sexual difference which inform Chaucer's depiction of women, in particular, the tendency of medieval writers to polarise their views of women, condemning them to the pit or elevating them to the pedestal.

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One of the key aims of this book is to offer a synthesis of the main findings of current research on age. It is intended as an outline survey and consequently the scope of the book is deliberately broad: it covers two centuries, considers the large land mass of Western Europe with its diverse languages, customs and cultures, and ranges across the social spectrum. The book focuses solely on the Christian West, including consideration on the extent to which social rank influenced life expectancy, the methods and goals of upbringing, marriage patterns and funerary memorialisation. The book also demonstrates how extensive that range can be. Examples are drawn from manorial accounts, tax assessments, spiritual writings, didactic literature, romances, elegies, art and architecture. The main thrust is that age formed an essential part of a person's identity in late medieval Europe. During adolescence, men and women progressively took on their adult roles. Three chapters are devoted to educating girls. The book discusses young people's period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It draws attention to pious young women who fought against marriage and wanted a chaste life. Divergences between northern and southern Europe in terms of marriage patterns, family formation, opportunities for women and attitudes towards death and its rituals are discussed. The book shows that attitudes towards the undeveloped young meant that children had few legal responsibilities. Another aim of the book is to consider the changing opportunities and possibilities for people as they progressed through life.

Spirituality and social change

The attempt to both define and understand reform in the later tenth and eleventh centuries is the chief ambition of this book. The book explores ecclesiastical reform as a religious idea and a movement against the backdrop of social and religious change in later tenth- and eleventh-century Europe. In so doing, it seeks, on the one hand, to place the relationship between reform and the papacy in the context of the debate about 'transformation' in its many and varied forms. At the same time, although recognizing that the reform movement had its origins as much in individuals and events far away from Rome and royal courts, it has looked to act as something of a corrective to the recent tendency among historians of emphasizing reform developments in other localities at the expense of those being undertaken in Rome. The book addresses 'the religious revolution of the eleventh century' by exploring how reform and the papacy developed in the eleventh century, and how these changes affected the rules by which medieval society functioned. Particular attention is paid to the question of whether the 'peace of God' movement was a social revolution that progressively blurred into and merged with the papal-sponsored movement for reform, which was gathering pace from the middle of the century, or whether these forces were deliberately compacted by the reformers in their efforts to promote their vision for Christian society.

The growth of legal consciousness from Magna Carta to the Peasants’ Revolt
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This book is intended as both a history of judicial developments in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and as a contribution to the intellectual history of the period. The dates 1215 and 1381 mark significant turning points in English history. The product of legal culture and experiences, 'legal consciousness' can be seen both as an active element shaping people's values, beliefs and aspirations and also as a passive agent providing a reserve of knowledge, memory and reflective thought, influencing not simply the development of the law and legal system, but also political attitudes. Focusing on the different contexts of law and legal relations, the book aims to shift the traditional conceptual boundaries of 'law', portraying both the law's inherent diversity and its multi-dimensional character. By offering a re-conceptualisation of the role of the law in medieval England, the book aims to engage the reader in new ways of thinking about the political events occurring during these centuries. It considers the long-term effects of civil lawyer, Master John Appleby's encounter with forces questioning royal government and provides a new explanation for the dangerous state of affairs faced by the boy-king during the Peasants' Revolt over a century and a half later. The book puts forward the view that the years subsequent to the signing of Magna Carta yielded a new (and shifting) perspective, both in terms of prevailing concepts of 'law' and 'justice' and with regard to political life in general.

Principles and practice
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Few historical problems have received so much attention among those studying the modern period and so little attention among medieval scholars as that of peacemaking. In the medieval period, peace was intrinsically linked to Christianity. As peace was seen as the perfect realisation of the laws of God, peace in the medieval period also became a standard justification for war. This book develops Professor Christopher Holdsworth's ideas and to put these, and other, common themes into a wider context by examining two case studies: peacemaking involving the kings of England and their neighbours in Britain and on the continent; and that involving the kings of Denmark and their neighbours. For England, the investigation looks at the reigns of Henry II and his sons, Richard I and John, encompassing the period between 1154 and 1216. For Denmark, the focus is on the reigns of Valdemar I and his sons, Cnut VI and Valdemar II, thereby covering most of the period between 1157 and 1241. In 1177, the treaty of Winchester satisfied what both kings wanted to achieve at that particular time. At the heart of the medieval peacemaking process stood the face-to-face meeting.

Immigrant England, 1300–1550 provides a comprehensive account of the identities, nationalities, occupations, families and experiences of first-generation immigrants to England during the later Middle Ages. It addresses both official policy and public responses to immigration in the age of the Black Death, the Hundred Years War and the early Tudor monarchy, revealing how dramatic changes in the English economy fundamentally affected the levels of tolerance and discrimination allowed to immigrants.

Drawing on data unique in Europe before the nineteenth century, the book provides both a quantitative analysis of immigrants and a qualitative assessment of the reception that these incomers received from English society at large. Accounting for 1 per cent or more of the population of England in the fifteenth century and coming from all parts of Europe and beyond, immigrants spread out over the kingdom, settling in the countryside as well as in towns, and in a multitude of occupations from agricultural labourers to skilled craftspeople and professionals. Often encouraged and welcomed, sometimes vilified and victimised, immigrants were always on the social and political agenda in late medieval England.