The IHR Blog |

New reviews: women appeasers, Islamic views of the West, childhood and travel in Russia

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Nancy-Astor-001We start this week with Julie Gottlieb’s ‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy, and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain, as Daniel Hucker and the author broadly agree over the first gendered history of British foreign policy in the age of appeasement (no. 1959, with response here).

Next up is Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West: Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe by Daniel G. König. Harry Munt and the author debate a key resource for future scholars interested in medieval Muslims’ views of their non-Muslim neighbours (no. 1958, with response here).

Then we turn to Shirleene Robinson and Simon Sleight’s edited collection Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Rosie Kennedy and the editors discuss a collection which enhances our knowledge and understanding of the histories of childhood and youth (no. 1957, with response here).

Finally we have Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth: The Muscovy Company and Giles Fletcher, the elder by Felicity Stout. Tatyana Zhukova recommends a book which will appeal to students and researchers of Elizabethan political culture (no. 1956).

 

Pollard Prize 2016 – winners

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After a very close-run competition, it was decided to award joint first prize to:

Anna Dorofeeva for ‘Miscellanies, Christian reform and early medieval encyclopaedism: a reconsideration of the pre-bestiary Physiologus manuscripts’

[Early Medieval Seminar]

and

Megan Webber for ‘Troubling Agency: Agency and Charity in Early Nineteenth-Century London’

[British History in the Long Eighteenth Century seminar]

 

The Runner-up was

Sam Drake for ‘Since the time of King Arthur: gentry identity and the commonalty of Cornwall c.1300-c.1420’

[Late Medieval seminar]

 

All three papers will be published in Historical Research in due course.

Man of 70 million words Philip Carter joins the IHR

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carterThis post originally appeared on the School of Advanced Study website.

Historian and digital publishing specialist Dr Philip Carter is set to join the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) as its new head of digital publications. He will take up his post at the institute, a member of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), in mid-October.

Dr Carter, who replaces Professor Jane Winters, now the School’s chair in digital humanities, is currently senior research and publication editor at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), and a member of the history faculty at Oxford University. At 70 million words, the ODNB is the world’s largest collaborative research project in the humanities, and records the lives of 60,000 notable figures in British history.

Since 2004 he has been responsible for the Dictionary’s pre-1800 content and for developing and extending its online edition in a changing digital environment. More recently, he has promoted the ODNB online as a resource for first-time research in the humanities, and has managed a series of digital partnerships with external academic programmes and heritage organisations. His recent publications consider the opportunities for, and future of, large-scale online reference works.

Professor Lawrence Goldman, director of the IHR, is delighted to welcome Dr Carter as a colleague at the IHR. ‘I know him to be a brilliant historian of modern and early modern Britain, with extensive experience of historical research at the highest level,’ said Professor Goldman. ‘His wide academic range and interests, the network of professional contacts he has amassed, and his long experience of both print and online publication, make him the ideal person to lead the IHR Digital Publications Department.’

Dr Carter will be responsible for the existing IHR Digital resources such as British History Online and the Bibliography of British and Irish History, both of which are used extensively by historians and members of the public. He will also develop new digital historical projects, some of them located in the Institute of Historical Research, others in collaboration with other SAS institutes, and some with external partners in the university and heritage sectors.

Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford – where he gained a first class degree in history and studied for his doctorate – Dr Carter specialises in 18th-century British social history. His book, Men and the Emergence of Polite Society, Britain 1660-1800, was an innovative study of social relations in this period, and he has since published on aspects of 18th-century Britain and historical biography. His contributions to the Oxford DNB include more than 150 biographies of people active between the 17th and 20th century. As publication editor he also has considerable experience of organising academic events, the use of scholarly information in social media, and promoting of historical content to non-specialist audiences.

‘I’m very pleased to be joining the Institute of Historical Research and the excellent team at IHR Digital. The IHR enjoys a national and international reputation for quality and innovation, and IHR Digital has been central to this for more than 20 years’, said Dr Carter.

‘I look forward to continuing to provide, and extend, the key IHR resources on which historians and students depend, and to working with staff at the Institute to develop new ways of exploring the past. I’m particularly keen to widen participation in, and discussion of, digital history as an exciting discipline. I also look forward to working with Jane Winters, who’s done so much to make IHR Digital a success, and with other researchers across the School of Advanced Study.

The global reach of the Bibliography of British and Irish History

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Click here for interactive version

Click here for interactive version

 

Place name tree search details here

Place name tree search details here

For this blog post, we wanted to present the global scope of the Bibliography. Despite being called the Bibliography of British and Irish History, material covering the rest of the world makes up a significant proportion of our resources. Using data visualization tools, we mapped the number of resources available onto a global frame using the figures from the latest update in June 2016 and the place names listed.

 

 

 

Click here for interactive version

Click here for interactive version

The expansion of the British Empire explains the large amount of resources concerning North America, the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, South Africa, but other less obvious areas also feature prominently. Russia has 2,257 resources, China has 1,674, and Japan 876.

As expected, European relations account for a large chunk of material, with France being the highest European candidate with 9,337 resources, followed by Germany (5,222), Italy (2,808), and Spain (2,384). Interestingly, these figures highlight the close links that Britain and Ireland have had with the continent, and shows that our political and cultural relationship with Europe has continuously shaped our nation, as part of a wider historical legacy.

The resources are as diverse thematically as they are geographically; a brief search on ‘Crete’ reveals not just a selection of resources on the World War II campaign such as The Ariadne objective : the underground war to rescue Crete from the Nazis, but The man who deciphered linear B : the story of Michael Ventrisand Did Greek wine became Port? Or why institutional interventions matter (c. 1350-1780), an article exploring Cretan wine in medieval England. 

Even more intriguing are the countries who have merely one resource to their name, Belarus has scraped in with the cosily titled Prince Potemkin and the Benthams, Mali has one resource called Barrow’s Boysa book about exploration in the early nineteenth century, and Christmas Island gets some recognition in British imperialism and Australian mini-imperialism in the 1950s

The visual representations of our resources really highlights the global reach of the BBIH, please click on the interactive links above to explore the full range of material.

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Historical Research – latest articles online

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‘A mission he bore – to Duke William he came’: Harold Godwineson’s Commentum and his covert ambitions. Ad F. J. van Kempen

Harold Godwineson’s journey to France, depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, is nowadays mostly regarded as rather reckless attempt to free two hostages in Normandy. It is a curious incident, interrupting Harold’s ascent to power in his homeland. William of Malmesbury’s description of it as a fishing party has always been dismissed as a silly explanation. This article connects Malmesbury’s phrase ‘commentum’ (‘pretext’) with other sources on the expedition. This comparison shows that Harold’s boat trip and his intended diplomacy in France were not an interlude in his policy, but formed a continuation of his cautious, calculated manoeuvres towards possession of the English throne.

The English parishes and knights’ fees tax of 1428: a study in fiscal politics and administrationAlex Brayson

This article is the first detailed examination of the English parishes and knights’ fees tax of 1428, based upon parliamentary and exchequer material. It demonstrates that the house of commons insisted upon granting this novel tax, in place of a more financially burdensome fifteenth and tenth, during the financial crisis of 1427–8. The parishes and knights’ fees tax was efficiently administered, notwithstanding some local complications, although its yield was not commensurate with the scale of the crown’s financial needs by the late fourteen-twenties. This provides a unique insight into the origins of the well-documented late Lancastrian fiscal crisis.

This article argues that the church’s strenuous efforts to publicize Magna Carta can only be fully understood when viewed in the context of canon law and pastoral care. The automatic sentence of excommunication that fell on anyone who infringed Magna Carta meant that every Christian in medieval England needed to know not just the general principles of the charter, but the contents of every clause. Clergymen had a duty to ensure that their parishioners did not unwittingly incur the sanction, thereby endangering their souls. Thus the threat of excommunication had a profound effect on the political awareness of English society, as a result of the church’s obligation to look out for the spiritual welfare of its members.

Magna Carta and the honour of Wallingford. Christopher Tilley

Magna Carta mentions the honour of Wallingford twice. Exploring the context of this shows how a tenurial relationship predating John’s accession to the throne led to minor ‘gentry’ landholders experiencing the king’s manipulation of marriages, wardships and escheats directly, and resulted in many serving in John’s military expeditions. All this was in addition to the increasingly onerous demands of royal government also felt by many of their neighbours in the localities. This combination of networks, tenurial and local, helps explain the politicization of minor landholders such as William fitz Ellis of Waterperry, who was present at Runnymede in 1215, and the nature of political society in the early thirteenth century.

New reviews: C19 refugees, Elizabeth I, Kissinger and the Ottoman Empire

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shaw2We start this week with a semi-Brexit-appropriate book, Caroline Shaw’s Britannia’s Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief. Tehila Sasson and the author discuss a book which traces the 19th-century history of refuge in Britain (no. 1955, with response here).

Then we turn to Elizabeth I and her Circle by Susan Doran, as Valerie Schutte praises a book which is refreshing in its scope and methodology (no. 1954).

Next up is Greg Grandin’s Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman. James Cameron recommends a highly ambitious, very stimulating and extremely readable work (no. 1953).

Finally we have State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands by Fred Anscombe, and Alex Drace-Francis believes this book will be of interest to anyone researching or teaching Ottoman or comparative imperial history (no. 1952).

Æthelthryth of Ely, perpetual virgin

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Full page miniature of Æthelthryth, London, British Library, Add MS 49598

Full page miniature of Æthelthryth. London, British Library, Add MS 49598, fol. 90v

The 23rd June is the feast day of Æthelthryth, an Anglo-Saxon queen and founder of a double monastery at Ely, who took a vow of celibacy despite being married twice. She was born c. 636 near Newmarket, Suffolk, and died at her monastery in 679 where she had been abbess for seven years, and is sometimes known as Etheldreda, or Audrey. She lived at a time when Christianity was really taking a foothold in England, and the story of her fiercely-protected virginity made her an ideal icon for spreading the message of the new church. According to Bede, her body remained uncorrupted after death, a sure sign she had not been defiled. In Signs of devotion : the cult of St. Aethelthryth in medieval England, 695-1615, the long-standing popularity of Æthelthryth is explored from its origins in the seventh century through to the early modern period. The story of the Northumbrian queen preserving her chastity as a sign of her devotion to God, fleeing from her second husband Ecgfrith when he tried to rape her and travelling back to her homeland to found the monastery at Ely in 679 obviously struck a deep chord in the medieval psyche, and her royal lineage propelled her to cult status. She also had a sister who succeeded her as abbess at Ely, and The Kentish Queen as Omnium Mater : Goscelin of Saint-Bertin’s Lections and the Emergence of the Cult of Saint Seaxburh explores the importance of themes such as maternity and sanctity in medieval hagiography.

 

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

 

Æthelthryth’s life has been well-documented in medieval sources such as Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, Ælfric’s Lives of Saints and Goscelin’s Lives of Female Saints, and her elevated status is also apparent in the tenth-century manuscript, London, British Library, Add MS 49598. The manuscript contains the Benedictional of St Æthelwold, written in a beautiful caroline minuscule and sumptuously decorated with gold initials. The article The Structure of English Pre-Conquest Benedictionals discusses the possibility that Æthelwold himself wrote the blessing for the feast of Æthelthryth. As Æthelwold was a pioneer of the tenth-century monastic reform, it is easy to see how the promotion of the cult of Æthelthryth would have suited his agenda. Ely had been destroyed by Viking raids and was refounded in 970 by Edgar and Æthelwold as part of their rebuilding programme.

 

Benedictional for Æthelthryth

Benedictional for Æthelthryth, from The Benedictional of St Æthelwold, London, British Library, Add MS 49598

 

The writing on the leaf pictured above (fol. 90r, using the Latinised version of her name yet retaining the Anglo-Saxon letter forms), highlights her sanctity, declaring the blessing for the feast day of saint Æthelthryth the perpetual virgin: Benedictio in natale s[an]c[t]e Aethelðryþae perpetue virg[inis].

Æthelthryth died from a tumour on her neck (probably plague), which she interpreted as a punishment for her former love of fine dresses and jewels, and Anglo-Saxon Woman : Fame, Anonymity, Identity and Clothing and The Adornment of Virgins : Æthelthryth and Her Necklaces explore the theme further. Unlike the miracles of St Brigid, Æthelthryth does not seem to have performed anything remarkable during her lifetime (apart from evading Ecgfrith and choosing a site for the monastery), but saved her powers for use posthumously. The Liber Eliensis (book of Ely), written some 500 years after her death, embellishes the miracles recorded by Bede, and The Changing Hagiography of St. Æthelthryth discusses her healing abilities, apparently curing people’s eye-diseases when they touched her coffin. She also inflicted death on those who disturbed her tomb, including a Viking, and a group of priests sceptical about her uncorrupted body. Sixteen years after her death, Seaxburh wanted her body interred inside the cathedral, and miraculously chanced up a white marble sarcophagus for the purpose, which happened to be an exact fit for Æthelthryth’s corpse. The symbolism of her virgin body and connection to Ely is explored in Ely’s St. Æthelthryth : The shrine’s enclosure of the female body as symbol for the inviolability of Monastic space.

Shrine and relics of Æthelthryth. Image from Wikipedia

Shrine and relics of Æthelthryth. Image from Wikipedia

Æthelthryth’s popularity has continued to the present day. She is often depicted with a crown of flowers or a book, and is the patron saint of throat ailments. Her church in Holborn, known as St Etheldreda’s church, is the oldest Roman Catholic church still surviving in England, and she continues to be worshipped in her hometown of Ely at St Etheldreda’s church, where her shrine and relics are contained. Lace and silk necklaces are associated with her cult, and were sold on her feast day in Ely at St Audrey’s Fair. The work ‘tawdry’ derives from this, referring to the inferior quality of these tokens.

To explore the cult of Æthelthryth further, please visit the Bibliography of British and Irish History:

Screenshot for advanced search for 'Æthelthryth'

Figure 1. Screenshot for advanced search for ‘Æthelthryth’

 

Screenshot for search results for 'Æthelthryth'

Figure 2. Screenshot for search results for ‘Æthelthryth’

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Medieval Merchants and Money

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boltonLaunching later this month, the IHR is delighted to announce the publication of Medieval Merchants and Money, a volume of selected essays celebrating the contribution to scholarship of the medieval historian Professor James L. Bolton. Expanding on a 2013 conference on the same theme, these 16 essays address different questions in medieval economic and social history, focussing on merchant activity, trade and identity. What did medieval merchants read, for example? How did mercantile and military activity interact with one another? And what did it mean to identify with one mercantile company over another? Looking at both rural and urban economies, this volume offers a small cross-section into the ongoing research that connects to James L. Bolton’s pivotal and diverse work in economic history.

The book launches on 30 June, and is available for pre-order at www.store.london.ac.uk.

 

New reviews: rational action, Russian religious toleration, royal touch and US left

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thomas_0First up this week is Rational Action: The Sciences of Policy in Britain and America, 1940–1960 by William Thomas. Tom Kelsey and the author discuss a book which deserves serious attention from historians of science (no. 1951, with response here).

Then we turn to The Crisis of Religious Toleration in Imperial Russia: Bibikov’s System for the Old Believers, 1841-1855 by Thomas Marsden. J. Eugene Clay believes this book to be a major contribution to understanding the history of Russian state policy toward religion (no. 1950).

Next up is Stephen Brogan’s The Royal Touch in Early Modern England. Benjamin Guyer praises a book which offers a compelling revision of popular religious belief and practice in early modern England (no. 1949).

Finally we have The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: US Protest and Central American Revolution by Nick Witham. Evan McCormick reviews a deftly and concisely written book which confirms the enduring importance of US interventions in Central America (no. 1948).

Shakespeare and Place on BHO

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Shakespeare on BHO

Shakespeare when he discovered BHO (probably)

British History Online might not be the first place you’d think to look when researching Shakespeare, but London and the early modern period are two of the great strengths in BHO’s collection. We have an abundance of materials that provide excellent context for Shakespeare’s life and his writing. What was London like when Shakespeare lived there? How has Shakespeare shaped the London of today? What about Shakespeare and places across the rest of the country?

Senate House Library recently hosted a Shakespeare and place Wikipedia workshop, which prompted me to compile the following list of relevant BHO resources. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully a useful starting point.

John Stow’s Survey of London: Although John Stow famously does not mention any theatres or playwrights in his Survey of London, the Survey is a contemporary account of London, which makes it an invaluable resource for understanding the city where Shakespeare lived. The first edition of the Survey was published in 1598, with a second and much-modified edition published in 1603. The version of the text that is on BHO is a 1908 edition of this 1603 text, edited by C L Kingsford. In his Survey, Stow ‘walks’ through the City of London, parish by parish.

Survey of London: Not to be confused with its early modern namesake above, this project began in the late nineteenth century and continues today. It provides detailed architectural and topographical studies of the capital’s built environment. Volume 22 covers Bankside, including the playhouses.

Victoria County History: This project also began in the nineteenth century and continues to this day. It is an encyclopaedic record of England’s places and people from earliest times to the present day. Particular series that contain useful information about Shakespeare are the History of Middlesex and the History of Warwickshire.

Agas Map of London: The woodcut map of London, usually called the Agas map, represents London in the 1560s—slightly earlier than Shakespeare was in London, but it is a wonderful resource to get a sense of what the city was like in the 16th century.

Old and New London: This nineteenth-century account of the history of London is chock-full of useful—and sometimes imaginative—descriptions of famous Shakespearean sites. Volume 6 covers Southwark and the Globe.

The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Inventory volumesThe RCHME was established in 1908, with a remit to produce an inventory of English monuments and identify those which were worthy of preservation. It is a good resource for both monuments mentioned by Shakespeare and monuments to Shakespeare.

A Dictionary of London: This early twentieth-century text by Henry A Harben lists streets and buildings in the City of London and often signposts places that have been mentioned in Shakespeare plays.

Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remambrancia 1579-1664: This index covers correspondence between the central government and City of London officials. Includes descriptions of letters regarding plays, players and theatres.

Camden Record Society Old Series: The volumes of this series that we have on BHO cover medieval and early modern London.

Feet of Fines, London and Middlesex: Feet of fines are court copies of agreements following disputes over property. The disputes were mostly fictitious and were simply a way of having the transfer of ownership of land recorded officially by the king’s court. The records in this series relate to London and Middlesex for the period 1189-1570.

Historical Gazetteer of London Before the Great Fire Cheapside; Parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary Le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane: Detailed property histories for five parishes in the central Cheapside area of London, from the 12th to the late 17th century. It includes accounts of the parish churches, and information about the people and buildings associated with the properties.

Topographical Dictionaries: A series of topographical dictionaries for England, Scotland and Wales, compiled by the publisher Samuel Lewis (1782/3-1865).

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