Those who read English history in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries encountered significant coverage of Wales. English readers of late fifteenth-century chronicles, however, found little sense of the situation of Wales, even regarding its role in the invasion through Wales of Henry VII, a king with Welsh ancestry. This change suggests there were limits to English fifteenth-century preoccupations with Welsh threats. It also accentuates the significance of the rediscovery of Welsh pasts that took place from the fifteen-thirties, due to the monarchy’s Welsh identity and the importance in English historical writing of men with marcher connections like Richard Grafton and Edward Hall.
The 2017 Historical Research/Wiley lecture was designed to raise some general issues about the nature of ‘civil wars’ as a prelude to a conference that looked at many examples across time and space. It takes the events of the sixteen-forties across Britain and Ireland and notes that very few participants accepted (at least publicly) that they were engaged in one or more civil wars. There was widespread seventeenth-century understanding that the term ‘civil war’ (bellum civile) had been developed in late republican and early imperial Rome but as just one of several terms used to analyse and describe internal wars and conflicts. This article explores the implications of this for our understanding of the first great crisis of the Stuart kingdoms.
This article investigates office-holding and private enterprise in eighteenth-century Sicily through a case study of the activities of Baron de Piro, a native of Malta. Based on documents held in Maltese and Sicilian archives, the article demonstrates how political developments in the kingdom both opened up and circumscribed the opportunities within which an upwardly-mobile household sought its fortune by identifying the social, political and economic contexts in which they operated. In doing so, it delivers insights into the impact of successive regime changes on the socio-economic landscape in Sicily as it passed from the Austrian Habsburgs to the Bourbons of Naples.
Princess Elizabeth Tudor’s holograph letters have long been prized, but often reveal more about her education than about her life before she became queen in 1558. Her scribal letters, by comparison, can offer more matter-of-fact insights into these years, showing how Elizabeth negotiated with the governments of her brother Edward VI and sister Mary I, how she managed her household and estate, and how she sued for property for herself and patronage for her servants. The article presents diplomatic transcriptions of seven scribal letters, written between 1547 and 1556, adding significantly to our understanding of her life during these years.
This article examines the evidence of the early medieval Latin Physiologus manuscripts for compilatory practices within the context of Carolingian ecclesiastical and educational reform in the period c.700–1000. It argues that miscellany manuscripts, in which the Physiologus is exclusively found in this period, represent a conscious and highly organized encyclopaedic drive that created multi-purpose manuals as part of the response to programmatic social change at a local level. Miscellanies are therefore a key and overlooked source for the use of knowledge in monastic writing centres, and for early medieval intellectual history more generally.
When Simon de Montfort took control of the government of England in 1264, he replaced the sheriffs appointed by Henry III. The new sheriffs were relatively obscure and have been little studied. The baronial reform movement raised expectations that sheriffs should be honest, and natives of the counties they governed. De Montfort’s sheriffs largely met these requirements, as their backgrounds and careers demonstrate. Unpublished exchequer records show that they were sometimes surprisingly successful as administrators in a time of disorder. They were men of the knightly class, serving their counties, rather than being ideologically attached to the reform movement.
This article examines how some key Conservative leaders conceptualized the problem of ‘the future’ in the final stages of the Second World War. It contends that the mental map employed by senior Conservatives for navigating the challenges of post-war national renewal has remained significantly misunderstood. The article conducts a close reading of Conservative positions on a range of issues – from economic modernization and constitutional propriety to geopolitical tensions – and highlights some previously neglected dimensions to domestic political debate. It concludes that the arguments developed by Conservative leaders were more sophisticated and coherent than has often been recognized.
Following on from the success of our top ten favourite articles from 2016, we thought we would bring you a round-up of the most interesting and unusual articles that we have indexed on the Bibliography so far this year. From anger to laughter, beer to bank managers, we hope you enjoy this small sample of the many resources available.
Once again, the list has been compiled chronologically.
1. Starting with alcohol (not that we ever would, of course) we have Bring Me Three Large Beers: Wooden Tankards at Roman Vindolanda, an article by Rob Sands and Jonathan A. Horn in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology. It discusses three drinking vessels found at Vindolanda, skillfully carved from yew, and each holding up to four pints. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tankards of this sort seem to a British trend, rather than a Roman import. The article explores the significance of yew as a material from the late Iron-Age in Britain, and the significance of feasting, drinking and comradeship that carried on with the establishment of Roman forts such as Vindolanda.
2. On a more sobering note, The Devil’s Daughter of Hell Fire: Anger’s Role in Medieval English Felony Cases by Elizabeth Papp Kamali in Law and History Review looks at cases of murder and manslaughter from the thirteenth and fourteenth century, and discusses how emotions such as anger could inform the decisions made by the jurors. Although on the one hand anger in medieval times was seen as the result of an ill-formed conscience, and therefore the accused was guilty of moral failings, but on the other hand it could also partially excuse the accused, as anger in its extreme form could be seen to prevent rational reasoning. These nuanced readings of the legal texts create a broader understanding of the medieval psyche and adds further scope to the history of emotions.
4. Soundings of Laughter in Early Modern England: Women, Men, and Everyday Uses of Humor by Joy Wiltenburg in Early Modern Women reflects on laughter as a way to explore gendered social dynamics. Although a difficult subject to comprehensively analyse, she looks at two different angles ‘troublesome laughter’, when laughter was not appropriate (at least to those in authority), and private humour, such as that expressed through letters and diaries. She explores attitudes towards laughter, how it links into social structure, religion and politics, and how rowdy laughter was seen by some as uncivilized.
5. Jeremy Boulton’s article The Painter’s Daughter and the Poor Law: Elizabeth Laroon (b. 1689 –fl.1736) in The London Journal relates the sad life of Elizabeth Laroon, daughter of the artist Marcellus Laroon the elder (c.1648/9–1702). Elizabeth was relatively comfortable financially when her father died, but this article charts the progress of her life, ending up as a pauper. She also experienced the parish workhouse and two visits to the venereal hospital. This article highlights the vulnerability of single women in society in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and how the parish poor law reached out to the community.
6. One for all you cataloguers and list-makers out there: ‘Orderly made’: re-appraising household inventories in seventeenth-century England by Donald Spaeth in Social History reveals how probate inventories were compiled by amateur appraisers and can now be used to assess the growth of material culture and consumption in early modern England. Through skillfully assessing the value of household goods and ordering lists to reflect the value, some appraisers gained enhanced social standing, such as Andrew Parslow from Thame in Oxfordshire. The article looks at the different ways that lists could be ordered, according to the individual assessor; room by room, or by groups of similar objects, such as bedding. However, after the Restoration, the ‘summary’ format was popularized by Andrew Parslow, and used for wealthier households, which reflects the amount of material goods being accrued in the seventeenth century.
7. Smelling salts at the ready for ‘Under Cross-Examination She Fainted’: Sexual Crime and Swooning in the Victorian Courtroom by Victoria Bates in the Journal of Victorian Culture. This article looks at accounts of rape in court, and how women losing consciousness in court had social, medical and legal ramifications. Using legal texts as cultural records, the use of ‘fainting’, ‘insensibility’, ‘swooning’, or ‘syncope’ all had slightly different meanings, and highlights the complex issue of unconsciousness. Victorian attitudes towards the fragility of women are also explored, as are the witness accounts in the courtroom, and how they interpreted the act of fainting.
8. From the edges of the empire, Business Fashion: Masculinity, Class and Dress in 1870s Australia by Melissa Bellanta in Australian Historical Studies looks at the emergence of business dress among men in late nineteenth century in Australia. The rise of bankers and stock-brokers in the gold-mining towns such as New South Wales sparked a male interest in smart and professional fashion, which offers new insights into masculinity in colonial Australia, as well as social structure and material wealth.
London Underground, 1960 tube stock trailer No. 4904. Image: Wikipedia
9. How We Came to Mind the Gap: Time, Tactility, and the Tube by Simeon Koole in Twentieth Century British History is an article that many urbanites will relate to. Charting the growth of the London Underground and our attitudes towards it, this article looks at how commuters cope with their personal space being encroached, and how the desire to get somewhere quicker has driven the design of tube trains, such as automatic doors and more standing room. These innovations have led to closer contact with strangers, requiring a constant need to adapt to shifting personal boundaries and tacit unspoken agreements about space-sharing.
There has been much interest lately on the diversity of cultures in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon world, with many academics keen to promote research that highlights the positive interaction between communities, rather than existing as single homogenized societies. The Bibliography of British and Irish History can provide a useful platform for publication analysis, and give a general overview of trends and patterns on hot topics such as this. Taking the Anglo-Saxon period as a starting point, a search on the Bibliography of the period 450-1066 and the search term ‘other countries’ returns 1467 results, and by drilling down into publishing figures from 1970 to the present, it is clear that much more attention is currently being paid to Anglo-Saxon links with the rest of the world. There are only 250 resources published pre-1970, but statistical analysis after that time reveals the following results:
As the graph shows, there has been a steady increase in research, and an sharp rise in the mid 1990s, until the turn of the millenium when it plateaus at about the 235 mark. This may be due to the Bibliography becoming much more efficient in its indexing from 1992 onwards, and however encouraging these results, they do need to be assessed against the general rise in publications, which gives a more balanced view:
However, the percentage of resources published does show a steady increase, with figures doubling from the 1970s (at five per cent) to over ten per cent since 2000, showing that it is an area growing in interest. A map of the spread of resources further highlights how far-reaching the interactions were in the Insular world.
Click on images for more detail
These data visualizations show publication information, but looking at individual titles on the Bibliography is also vital to establishing the body of research out there.
Although physical geography may separate Britain and Ireland from other countries, it has never been left to develop in splendid isolation. All-important trade-routes and the growth of Christianity ensured that the Insular world had plenty of interaction with the Continent, and much further afield. Bede was keen to align the British Isles with the Roman Church (as opposed to the Insular Church), believing in a universal Catholicism, uniting all four corners of the known world. Despite never leaving Monkwearmouth-Jarrow, a constant stream of religious texts from the continent informed his global view, as Conor O’Brien’s book Bede’s Temple discusses. Never are these influences more apparent than in the Lindisfarne Gospels, the pinnacle of Anglo-Saxon culture. In her book chapter ‘The Cross and the book: the cross-carpet pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels as sacred figurae’, in Cross and Cruciform in the Anglo-Saxon World, Michelle Brown discusses the many influences that fed into the manuscript images, including the resemblance the carpet pages bear to eastern Mediterranean prayer mats, which may have been used in Britain in the early eighth century to pray towards the east, highlighting the blending of eastern and western cultures. She analyses the crosses embedded in the carpet pages, and suggests that each cross represents the concept of a universal church – St Matthew a Latin cross, St Mark a Celtic cross, St Luke a Greek cross, and St John a Greek-style cross that was popular in Coptic Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia.
Carpet page for St John (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D IV, fol. 210v)
Carpet page for St Matthew (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D IV, fol. 26v)
The CodexAmiatinus, a magnificent copy of the Vulgate bible produced at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow that went missing on its journey to Rome, also indicates just how closely Christian England had aligned itself with Rome – the reason it remained undiscovered for so long was because it was assumed to be Italian, so completely had it emulated the Roman style. In his book chapter ‘Amiatinus in Italy: the afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon book’, in Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent, Marsden explores the extraordinary journey of this manuscript. ‘Who introduced charters into England? The case for Theodore and Hadrian’ in Textus Roffensis: Law, Language, and Libraries in Early Medieval England is also a reminder that Theodore of Tarsus (Archbishop of Canterbury) and his companion Hadrian (Abbot of St Augustine’s, Canterbury) from north Africa were received very favourably as church leaders in England in the seventh century.
Although the close connections between the Vikings and Britain and Ireland have been well-documented, a fascinating book chapter titled ‘Viking-age queens and the formation of identity’ in The Viking Age: Ireland and the West discusses the portrayals of Eadgyth, Gormlaith and Auðr and their regal roles. The ‘marrying-in’ to different cultures may suggest a keenness (or an unwillingness) to be politically allied, and the subsequent portrayals of these women symbolized the links being forged between English, Irish and Scandinavian cultures. Aquitaine and Ireland in the Middle Ages also offers interesting evidence of cultural and commercial links between Ireland and the south-west of France, who could use the Atlantic Ocean to bypass mainland Britain. ‘Innse Gall: culture and environment on a Norse frontier in the Scottish Western Isles’ in The Norwegian Domination and the Norse World, c.1100-c.1400 also highlights the blurred boundaries between the British and Scandinavian world, and how those links persisted well after the Anglo-Saxon era.
Anglo-Saxon map of the world (London, British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius B V/1, fol. 56v)
For resources covering areas beyond Europe and Byzantium, a book chapter called ‘Architecture and epigraphic evidence for Christian Celts in Connecticut, c. 500-700 A.D.’ in Atlantic Visions presents archaeological evidence for a drainage system that may signify occupation by settlers from Ireland or the Hebrides, strengthened by the presence of preserved inscriptions of the Chi-Rho symbol and Ogham script. An article titled ‘The figure of the Ethiopian in Old English texts’ in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, which although it offers both positive and negative aspects, highlights how places as far as eastern Africa were present in the Anglo-Saxon mind.
The Bibliography of the British and Irish History is an extremely useful tool for exploring both qualitive and quantitive results in history publications, in this case to explore the wider boundaries of the Anglo-Saxon period in Britain and Ireland.
This article challenges the influential revisionist interpretation of the impeachment of the duke of Buckingham in the parliament of 1626. It argues that Buckingham’s enemies sought to remove him from power rather than ‘reform’ his errors or reach a compromise settlement whereby he would give up some offices. It explores the relationship between M.P.s and their patrons in the house of lords, the ideological and religious significance of the impeachment and the reasons for the dissolution, arguing that the attack on Buckingham was much more radical, polarizing and uncompromising than has previously been acknowledged.
Since the nineteen-seventies public history has emerged as an increasingly coherent discipline in North America, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and, latterly, in a wider European context. In all of these places it has had a connected but distinctly different gestation, and the nature of how history is applied, constructed, proffered or sold for public consumption is unique to each society. In Ireland, and within the history profession connected to it, its meaning is yet to be fully explored. Recent talks, symposia and conferences have established the term in the public imagination. As it is presently conceived public history in Ireland either relates specifically to commemorative events and the effect historians might have on official discourse relating to them, or to a series of controversial and contested historiographical debates. This article, by contrast, seeks a wider, more inclusive definition that includes the ‘public’ as an actor in it.
Viking re-enactors at the Battle of Clontarf millennium commemoration, Saint Anne’s Park, Dublin, April 19th 2014
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen, one of Britain’s most well-known literary figures. She died on 18 July 1817, and this year celebrates a variety of different events to commemorate her life (see Jane Austen 200). To tie in with this, we looked at the resources available on the Bibliography of British and Irish History, and have selected some material which highlights the less-explored themes surrounding Austen’s life and her work.
A newly published book titled Jane Austen and the Reformation: Remembering the sacred landscape by Roger E. Moore explores the medieval religious houses that feature in Austen’s novels, noting the nostalgia that people in the Georgian era felt for the England that existed before the Reformation. He pays particular attention to the first-hand experience that Austen had with pre-Reformation buildings, such as being taught at the gatehouse at Reading Abbey and visiting relatives at Stoneleigh Abbey.
Abbey gateway Reading, by Paul Sandby, 1808 (image: Wikipedia)
Jane Austen, Dominic Serres, Princess Olive of Cumberland, Graf von Moltke: Unexpected encounters of an interesting kind is an article by Chris Birch in Geneologists’ Magazine (32:4), which charts a surprising family history that traces the author’s heritage from sugar plantations in St Kitts back to James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother. It is thought that the character General Tilney in Northanger Abbey was based on James’ father-in-law, General Edward Mathew.
Jane Austen and the state of the nation by Sheryl Craig takes a political view of Austen’s novels, discussing in each chapter a specific novel and relating it to the political and economic climate, such as Poor Law reform, the Speenhamland System and the Restriction Act of 1797. The monograph concludes that Austen maintained a liberal tory outlook throughout her writing life.
This article discusses and contextualizes a unique document: the record of an investigation into a death, apparently by suicide, in the communal prison in Bologna in 1473, with an accompanying drawing of the dead body. The credibility of this death as suicide is questioned and discussed as a possible concealed homicide. It is then further contextualized in relation to the recent, revisionist historiography of conditions in medieval prisons, and it is argued that the investigative phase of criminal justice, involving torture, increasingly generated suicides and prison escapes.
This article considers the life of a British would-be adventurer and clerk in the Imperial Maritime Service, Charles Mason, who became embroiled in an uprising against the Chinese government in 1891. By exploring Mason’s life, his writings and the diplomatic dialogue sparked by his actions, the article highlights the growing disjuncture between imperial fantasy and the reality of imperial administration. It considers how the actions of errant individuals could be used as a pretext to renegotiate the limits of British and Chinese power. As Mason’s actions and his literary career demonstrate, China and other imperial sites beyond the formal control of colonial authorities acted as ideal places for adventuring in the British imagination.
This article examines jurisdictional disputes between the city of Salisbury and its bishops in the Elizabethan and early Stuart period, showing how debates over local control articulated broader ideas of order in the state. The civic leadership identified itself closely with the monarch in its bid for incorporation, arguing that prosperity and peace could only be achieved in this way. The bishops, in contrast, claimed that their own traditional authority over the city was the surest means of order, an argument that gained greater purchase under Charles I. Local actors could shape relations between themselves and the crown, but their success rested finally on the monarch’s willingness to trust them to maintain the royal state.
This article offers a comprehensive survey of relations between the labour movement, socialists and official eugenic opinion from the late Victorian era to the Second World War. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, it discusses both how the left regarded eugenics and the attempts by the Eugenics Society to gather support from this tendency. Although some socialists wished to utilize eugenics and some eugenists were friendly to labour, it is concluded that only peripheral labour organizations were truly attracted to the doctrine. The article provides a much more nuanced account than does the weight of past scholarship.
Building upon recent scholarship, this article presents a study of policy formation within the composite monarchy of Charles I. Through a scrutiny of the 1636 canons – a crucial but neglected aspect of the ‘Laudian’ programme in Scotland – new light is shed on the contested dynamics of the working partnership between the king and William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury (1633–45). The article also engages with the question of whether Laud can accurately be described as ‘the master’ of religious reform in Scotland and contends that he recast retrospectively his role in policy formation – not just in the canons, but in other, equally controversial, aspects of Scottish policy – thus concealing the true extent of his involvement, by presenting himself as having been a servant, not an agent. Suggesting greater involvement in Scottish affairs than has hitherto been acknowledged, these findings put Laud at the heart of a programme of religious reform that extended across the British churches during the sixteen-thirties.