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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.

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temporalities: regulated time that is ‘abstract, objective, and countable’; and unregulated time that can start and stop at will. As Rick Godden has suggested (and as Dinshaw’s meditations on her own ‘amateurism’ imply), for twenty-​first-​century academics and non-​academics alike, these two kinds of time are almost always mixed up.10 That they are sometimes seen as separate is a symptom not of their difference but of their similarity. The insistence on the distinction (which actually comes quite late) was generated by the anxiety that professional impulses were always

in Affective medievalism
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proved decisive for Gervase’s sense of identity. By this stage he was expressing his name in a French form, as le Vulre, in order to minimise his Flemish birth and identify himself professionally with the Plantagenets’ ‘French’ regime. In 1436 Gervase moved to England and became secretary for French affairs to Henry VI.27 When he applied for letters of denization in 1441, le Vulre actually stated that he had been born in the kingdom of France.28 He defended this position again in the 1450s, claiming as a result to be ‘perfectly versed in French’ and therefore fully

in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Medieval and medievalist practice

let on’.51 So why does this conservative view of time persist? Part of the reason, as we will see, is institutional. Many medievalists are invested in a theory of time that requires what Dinshaw has characterised as professional time. Certain protocols define the professionals’ approach to time. These protocols and the practices that surround them buttress institutional and professional identity. Dinshaw argues for the disruption of this identity and the theory of time in which it is implicated by looking outside the ‘profession’ to ‘amateurs’ who have a lot to tell

in Affective medievalism

, those other groupings of people by their line of work, such as goldsmiths or butchers or tailors. Most guilds combined some of the characteristics of both professional organisations and labour unions of more recent times, but permission to organise had to come from the communal government – or from the judges of the vettovaglie where food was involved – as did approval of the guild’s statutes. The guild members, who came from various parts of the city, participated in meetings to discuss matters of mutual interest and to elect their officers. Nothing demonstrates

in Indispensable immigrants
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Dignity and memory

Epilogue: Dignity and memory Corporate memory is the stuff of much if not most historical thought and writing. We were all brought up, for better and worse, on our respective national histories, vestiges of nineteenth-century nationalist sentiment. But we all have multiple allegiances and these, too, come with histories, whether of religious bodies, ethnic groups, professional organisations, or still other types of corporate entities. For corporate memory to flourish, the corporate body needs to be alive. The end of Yugoslavia meant the end of teaching

in Indispensable immigrants

all the places from which immigrants came to England across our period, the largest recorded single source was undoubtedly England’s closest continental neighbour, France. The French in England have traditionally attracted surprisingly little attention from historians, perhaps because it has been assumed that the frequent animosity between the two kingdoms over the later Middle Ages provided a bar to migration. Certainly, most French immigrants seem to have kept a relatively low profile, and England does not seem to have attracted rich, influential or professional

in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Immigrant England

aristocrats, professional people such as scholars, doctors and clergy, prosperous traders and skilled craftspeople, and numerous semi-​and unskilled workers involved in commerce, manufacturing and agriculture. Some came as refugees escaping economic, political or religious turmoil in their homelands, and a few may have come as forced labour. Most, though, arrived as a result of self-​determination, facilitated by the general openness of borders and encouraged by the perceived opportunities that migration might bring. Their host communities in England occasionally remarked

in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Rationality, intelligence and human status

medieval norms and labels With regard to fixed identity or labelling of a person, it seems that medieval ways of treating ID were much more fluid than modern ones. In modern society, once someone is diagnosed with a condition, be it Down syndrome, autism, dyslexia, that is a label that sticks, in all life situations. The Middle Ages appear to have been different. The same person may in some life situations have been considered an idiot, in others a normal person. Similar notions are admitted by the psychiatric or pedagogical profession today when it is stated that people

in Fools and idiots?

of the ancestral identities of such second-​generation converts. The Jews who accepted conversion and entered the House of Converts in the generations after 1290 originated mainly from Iberia, France, Germany and the Low Countries. Some attracted the attention of the crown because of their high status. Elizabeth, the daughter of one Rabbi Moses, called ‘bishop [sic] of the Jews of France and Germany’, entered the Domus in 1400 and subsequently married David Pole, a London tailor.13 In other cases it seems that the individuals had resided for some time in English

in Immigrant England, 1300–1550