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Essays on the English nation and commonwealth in the sixteenth century

This book is a response to a demand for a history which is no less social than political, investigating what it meant to be a citizen of England living through the 1570s and 1580s. It examines the growing conviction of ‘Englishness’ in the sixteenth century, through the rapidly developing English language; the reinforcement of cultural nationalism as a result of the Protestant Reformation; the national and international situation of England at a time of acute national catastrophe; and through Queen Elizabeth I, the last of her line, who remained unmarried throughout her reign, refusing to even discuss the succession to her throne. The book explores the conviction among leading Elizabethans that they were citizens and subjects, also responsible for the safety of their commonwealth. The tensions between this conviction, born from a childhood spent in the Renaissance classics and in the subjection to the Old Testament of the English Bible, and the dynastic claims of the Tudor monarchy, are all explored at length. Studies of a number of writers who fixed the image of sixteenth-century England for some time to come; Foxe, Camden and other pioneers of the discovery of England are also included.

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Faith, religion and observance before the Reformation
Author: R. N. Swanson

This book seeks to explore the nature of religious belief and practice in pre-Reformation England. For most people in England the main access to the Bible, and indeed to instruction in the faith, would be through hearing priests from their pulpits. The book demonstrates with immediacy and potency the diverse expressions of faith and observance. It discusses the varieties of spirituality in later medieval England and the ways in which they received expression, through participation in church services, actions like pilgrimages, charitable foundations, devotional readings and instruction. Opposition to prevailing spirituality, expressed through 'Lollardy', is also considered. There is a great deal of written evidence for both the theory and the practice of late medieval English religion and spirituality. The mass was the central ceremony of the Church: the consecration of the bread and wine to become the body and blood of Christ. Within Christianity, the principal focus of devotion was necessarily the divinity, in particular Christ, the second person of the Trinity. While there was considerable concern to accumulate spiritual benefits during life, the most important issue was to secure salvation after death. For those who sought advanced domestic spiritual satisfaction, an episcopal licence for the celebration of divine offices within a private chapel or oratory was necessary.

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A conversation on national identity

It could be argued that the English always have discussed their national identity at length, if not 'with arms', and rarely at the dinner table. This book introduces the diversity of reflection on Englishness in a number of stages. 'Versions' of England are particularly apparent when reading contemporary travel writing on and about England. The relationship between the claims of continuity and the claims of change can be captured by understanding Englishness as conversation. The book brings together insights from English history, politics, constitutional affairs, literature, psephology and social psychology to provide a digest of current reflection and is divided into three complementary parts. In the first part, the nuances and subtleties of Englishness are explored. It also explores the conceptual structure and sociological texture of what such a cosmopolitan England would look like. The part discusses conversational etiquette of English national self-identification, the fear of an 'English backlash', and the non-white ethnic minority communities. The second part considers Englishness in politics and institutions. After 1997, the Labour government believed that devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland dealt with England in the appropriately English way: pragmatic adjustment without provocation. It includes discussions on Conservatism and Englishness, Gordon Brown and the negation of England, and the Britain central government. The third part reprises the themes discussed in the previous parts with a historical and literary emphasis. It includes discussions on the changing face of Englishness, and the English union in the writings of Arthur Mee and G.K. Chesterton.

Selected sources
Author: Gervase Rosser

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.

Representations and perceptions of fraudulent identities
Author: Tobias B. Hug

Impostors and impostures featured prominently in the political, social and religious life of early modern England. Who was likely to be perceived as impostor, and why? This book offers a full-scale analysis of this multifaceted phenomenon. Using approaches drawn from historical anthropology and micro-history, it investigates changes and continuities within the impostor phenomenon from 1500 to the late eighteenth century, exploring the variety of representations and perceptions of impostors, and their deeper meanings within the specific contexts of social, political, religious, institutional and cultural change. The book examines a wide range of sources, from judicial archives and other official records to chronicles, newspapers, ballads, pamphlets and autobiographical writings. Given that identity is never fixed, but involves a performative dimension, changing over time and space, it looks at the specific factors which constitute identity in a particular context, and asks why certain characteristics of an allegedly false identity were regarded as fake.

Patronage, literature and religion

This book aims both to shed light on the complex legal and procedural basis for early modern chaplaincy and to expand the understanding of what chaplains, in practice, actually did. Each chapter in the book treats in a different way the central question of how interactions in literature, patronage and religion made forms of cultural agency are available to early modern chaplains, primarily in England. The numerous case studies discussed in the book include instances of both the public and the more private aspects of chaplaincy. The book first focuses on the responsibility of the bishop of London's chaplains for pre-publication censorship of the press. It then examines the part played by ambassadorial chaplains such as Daniel Featley within wider networks of international diplomacy, interconfessional rivalry and print polemic. Patronage was evidently the key to determining the roles, activities and significance of early modern chaplains. Unsurprisingly, patrons often chose chaplains whose interests and priorities, whether theological or secular, were similar or complementary to their own. Episcopal chaplains had a politically significant role in keeping lay patrons loyal to the Church of England during the interregnum. Alongside patronage and religion, the book also considers the diverse array of literary activities undertaken by early modern chaplains.

Christopher G.A. Bryant

Introduction In January 2008 David Marquand argued in a posting on the Open Democracy website that the campaigns for an English parliament and the lesser alternative of English votes on English laws were unworthy of support because ‘no one has put forward a positive case for devolution to England, based on a moral vision of what England and the

in These Englands
The Victorian cult of Alfred the Great
Author: Joanne Parker

This book provides a broad account of the nineteenth-century cult of King Alfred. It reveals the rich cultural interest of the corpus of texts as a whole. The book redresses a misleading modern emphasis on Arthur and the Victorians, and addresses a genuine gap in the current literature on nineteenth-century medievalism. The book focuses on what was probably the apex of Victorian Alfredianism. It provides the background to this event both in terms of the wider cultural movements and in the sense of the Alfredian tradition which the nineteenth century inherited. The intersection of the cult of Alfred with nineteenth-century British politics is considered in the book, which focuses upon the role that Alfredianism played in debate about the future of the monarchy. The book speculates how the Saxon king was enlisted to vindicate and ennoble those institutions of which Victorian Britain was most proud - notably its navy, law-code, constitution and empire. It examines the conceptions of ninth-century Wessex as a time of immense cultural change - the mirror-image of the nineteenth century - and reviews Victorian appropriations of Alfred's reign as a prestigious starting point for myths of national progress. The book further focuses upon more domestic narratives - the use of Alfred, by Victorian authors, to exemplify moral values, and the rewriting of his life as a parable of error and redemption. Finally, the crucial question of Alfred's decline in fame is addressed in the book, which surveys the diminished interest in the Saxon king after 1901.

Documentary sources

This book demonstrates that the discussion of non-aristocratic women can be securely grounded in archival documentation. It explores, with sensitivity and sophistication, the relationship between the picture which emerges from such sources and the literary and theological perceptions of womankind. The book provides a collection of documentary material, much of it previously unpublished, and guides the reader in the techniques needed to glean rich evidence of contemporary behaviour and assumptions from what can seem, at first sight, unpromisingly austere sources. It also demonstrates the variety of evidence that survives of English women in all walks of life from the time of Edward I to the eve of the Reformation. The book then provides substantial overview of current thinking about English medieval women below the level of the greater aristocracy. It also explores the life-cycle themes of childhood, adolescence, married life, widowhood and old age. The book then moves on to examine such topics as work in town and country, prostitution, the law, recreation and devotion. There is an element of caprice and artificiality in trying to divide the lives of medieval women under particular heads. This is especially true of the label 'devotion'. The culture of later medieval England was a Christian culture and Christian ideology permeated every aspect of life. The book recovers the experience of ordinary medieval women.

Author: Simon Walker

Simon Walker studied modern history at Magdelen College, Oxford, graduating with first-class honours in 1979. When Walker began researching the retinue of John of Gaunt in 1980, 'bastard feudalism' had been the subject of debate for thirty-five years. A study of John of Gaunt's retinue could be expected to throw important, if not decisive, light on these problems. For not only was his the largest retinue in late medieval England, but for thirty years the duke himself had a dominant role in the domestic, military and diplomatic policy of England. In 1994, Michael Jones and Walker published for the Camden Society an edition of all the surviving private life indentures for peace and war apart from those of John of Gaunt and William, Lord Hastings. Walker's introduction to the volume reviewed the evolution of life indentures, the range of services they embraced, the regulation of obligations for service and reward, and the changing role of such indentures over the period 1278-1476. From these broad investigations into the balance of power between magnates and gentry, Walker returned to examine how, in individual cases, two men from different backgrounds built their careers on noble and royal patronage. Walker then turned to examine the retrospective view of the 1399 revolution in literate culture. He used case studies to build up a picture of collective mentalities among different social grades and vocational worlds, hoping ultimately to construct a new approach to the tensions and strength of the late medieval polity.