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Mexico-United States Relations: the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920

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The IHR Library holds a wealth of resources for the history of Mexico-United States relations, covering the period succeeding the Mexican-American War up until the twentieth century. A range of sources, such as, treaties, diaries, autobiographies and letters, are included in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. 


Read the first two instalments in this series of blog posts. 

Following the ongoing reclassification project for the Latin American collection and the upcoming Mexico-U.S exhibition, some interesting volumes have been discovered within the library’s holdings. This blog post is the third in a series that will focus on the IHR Library’s holdings of material concerning the history of Mexico-U.S relations, focusing on the Mexican Revolution.

The Madero Revolution which overthrew the regime of Porfirio Diaz had its organisational and military beginnings in the United States. While the root cause was the unrest within Mexico itself, the Diaz government in 1910 was still strong enough to control internal dissension and maintain itself in power. Only the activities of the Mexican revolutionaries, organised and operating from a sanctuary above the U.S border, brought about the violent crack that was to force President Diaz from office. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict ousted Díaz from power and a new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.


The first work being highlighted in this post is Documents on the Mexican Revolution edited by Gene Z. Hanrahan.

Volume I – The Origins of the Revolution in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California, 1910-1911.

This work consists of 9 volumes, with each volume covering a different time period during the revolution. The documents in this collection have been selected from the many thousands of papers on the Mexican revolution preserved in the United States National Archives. The documents include letters and reports prepared by U.S diplomats, the Mexican ambassador, special agents of the Department of Justice, state governors and private citizens. The first volume of this work includes important original writings and works of the Mexican revolutionaries that embrace subjects such as political and revolutionary writings, public and foreign reaction and U.S recognition of Madero.

Volume V – Blood Below the Border. American Eye-witness Accounts of the Mexican Revolution.

The fifth volume in this series consists of twenty reports, letters and documents written by Americans in Mexico during the first years of the Mexican Revolution. They included Americans in business, diplomats, visiting statesmen and mine managers. This volume sheds light on the concerns Americans had about their safety, investments and future in Mexico during this period, and how their views helped shape United States policy towards Mexico.

 

 


An American family in the Mexican revolution by Robert Woodmansee in collaboration with Richard Herr

This memoir details the experiences of an American family caught in Revolutionary Mexico. The book contains information about the Revolution, life as a foreign national in Mexico, the silver mining industry, and social and cultural aspects of Revolutionary Mexico.
Based on personal documents written by Richard Herr’s older brother, this memoir covers a critical period in Mexican history, beginning in the Porfiriato and continuing through the 1920s, from the point of view of one family. An American family in the Mexican revolution illustrates the economic expansion of the United States into Mexico in the late nineteenth century; relations between foreign managers and Mexicans of all social classes; the foreign colony in Mexico; the development of a working class in Mexico; various aspects of the Mexican revolution (including its contribution to the debate about the degree to which foreigners and their enterprises stirred revolutionary discontent); the impact and changes brought about by the revolution; and Mexican-United States relations during the entire period.


Un húngaro en el México Revolucionario : correspondencia de Kálmán Kánya, Ministro del Imperio Auistro-Húngaro en México durante la Revolución Mexicana y la Primera Guerra Mondial  by Ádám Anderle and Monika Kozári.

This work details the experience and correspondence of the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Mexico, Kálmán Kánya, during the Mexican revolution. It is translated into Spanish from Hungarian and follows Kánya’s experiences and relationships with Mexican officials from his appointment as ambassador to Mexico to his return to Europe in July 1919.


For more information on the IHR Library’s holdings on Latin American and United States history more generally, please refer to the following guides:

United States History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Latin American History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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Mexico-United States Relations: Porfiriato (1876–1910)

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The IHR Library holds a wealth of resources for the history of Mexico-United States relations, covering the period succeeding the Mexican-American War up until the twentieth century. A range of sources, such as, treaties, diaries, autobiographies and letters, are included in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. 


Read the first blog post in this series here.

Following the ongoing reclassification project for the Latin American collection and the upcoming Mexico-U.S exhibition, some interesting volumes have been discovered within the library’s holdings. This blog post is the second in a series that will focus on the IHR Library’s holdings of material concerning the history of Mexico-U.S relations, focusing on the rule of Porfiriato Díaz.

The rule of Porfirio Díaz (1876–1911) was dedicated to the rule by law, suppression of violence, and modernisation of all aspects of the society and economy. Diaz was an astute military leader and liberal politician who built a national base of supporters. To avoid antagonising Catholics, he avoided enforcement of anticlerical laws. The country’s infrastructure was greatly improved, thanks to increased foreign investment from Britain and the US, and a strong, stable central government.

The first work being highlighted in this blog post is an electronic resource titled Creating Mexican 

consumer culture in the age of Porfirio Díaz by Steven B. Bunker. This work focuses on the Mexican experience of consumerism under the Porfiriato regime. Steven Bunker’s study shows how goods and consumption embodied modernity in the time of Porfirio Díaz, how they provided proof to Mexicans that “incredible things are happening in this world.”

 


Estadísticas económicas del porfiriato : Comercio exterior de México, 1877-1911 – Colegio de México

This volume gathers the statistics of Mexican foreign trade in the years from 1877 to 1911. The data was compiled  by the Seminar of the Modern History of Mexico. Prepared as part of the research on the economic life of the country during the Porfiriato, these statistics are also provide a useful study on the economic development of the country under the regime.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Archivo del general Porfirio Díaz, memorias y documentos : prólogo y notas de Alberto María Carreño by Porfirio Díaz.

The IHR library holds 30 volumes of this series of Porfirio Díaz’s documents and memoirs, published in collaboration with the Institute of History at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. These epistolary works contain military correspondence, photos, maps and illustrations.

Letter from General Porfirio Diaz to Don Casimiro del Collado, asking for an opinion about his memoirs. vol. 1, pg.9

1. Manuel Iturribarria, Governor of the State of Oaxaca and Director of its Institute of Sciences. 2. Arms of the first Marquis of Montserrat, Don Joaquin Vasconcelos, who impelled the young Porfirio Diaz to pursue a literary career. Vol. 1, pg. 69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


For more information on the IHR Library’s holdings on Latin American and United States history more generally, please refer to the following guides:

United States History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Latin American History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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User Experience in the IHR Library: UXLibsIII

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As part of the IHR Library’s ongoing commitment to researching and improving user experience in the library, earlier this summer I attended the UXLibsIII conference in Glasgow. The two-day conference brought together 180 delegates from 19 countries and it was great to hear of user experience projects taking place in libraries across the world and to have discussions incorporate such an international dynamic. It was an exceptionally useful and inspiring experience, prompting several ideas for improving user experience in the IHR and ways to build upon the previous UX research undertaken by the library team.

Experience mapping during Anneli Friberg & Anna Kågedal’s training workshop

The conference began with an introductory address from Andy Priestner in which he commented that ‘user experience is too fundamental to be just one person’s job.’ Much as there is no one single common ‘user’ of a library, neither can there be one single member of library staff who can encompass UX for an entire institution. This observation struck the tone for many of the discussions that followed. It was noted that UX is an invaluable tool for libraries, yet frequently it is a tool that remains underappreciated.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was ethics and values, with both keynote lectures focusing on this. The keynote delivered by Dr Meredith Evans, Director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library focused on ethics and social responsibility in archives and librarianship, most specifically in relation to the Documenting Ferguson project which she led at Washington University. The project is a freely available resource that aims to preserve and make accessible digital media captured and created by community members following the shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, on 9th August 2014. Meredith explained how the project prompted key ethical questions: did people who had tweeted about the shooting give consent to their tweet being archived? How could documents be archived but not accessed and used by law enforcement agencies? How can libraries create a tool that can minimise the risk of using Twitter and such platforms for research?

In answer to these, Meredith related how her team had undertaken mapping exercises and created personas for each user group incorporated within the project. She also called for librarians and archivists to listen to users and not necessarily always your institution’s administration, noting that in establishing archives based around communities different voices can be incorporated into history. Her keynote was one of the undoubted highlights of the conference and succeeded in being both incredibly moving and engaging; highlighting ethical issues and offering practical advice and reminding us all to ‘walk in the shoes of today’s content creator’ and library user.

Similarly, Matthew Reidsma’s keynote address also focused upon conducting ethical UX research. He asked attendees to question what are our values as library workers, arguing that design reflects the values of its creator, therefore biases and values will be embedded within your work and your library whether intentionally or not. One of the most striking points that Matthew reinforced was that analytics make us think that people are predictable and cause us to lose sight of the individual person (or library user) behind such data. He commented that too often library staff are designing library spaces for happy smiling people who want to be at the library – this he noted does not reflect the true complexity of users of a library.

University of St Andrews poster from ‘UXLabs’

Aside from the keynotes, another highlight was the ‘UXLabs’ feature, in which libraries from across the UK presented current or on-going user experience projects at stalls during lunchtime. This was a great way to learn about projects taking place and see the diverse methodologies applied by each institution. It was also a very useful way of stimulating ideas for future projects by learning what had worked and what challenges projects had encountered or were in some instances still facing.

For my own part, I also presented at the conference on the UX work being undertaken at the IHR. My talk focused on the project’s impact, most especially in relation to diversity, both within the library and across the wider Institute. The IHR Library is continuing to work to improve the experience for all its users and is implementing several of the key findings from the UX research undertaken in November last year.

The conference ended with a Q&A in which discussion frequently turned to the question of ‘what next for UX in libraries?’ The panel were emphatic that user experience research and activities are not a fad, instead they argued UX should be regarded as a deeply ingrained practice and should be a part of every library’s thinking. After all, what is a library without its users?

Further information about the IHR Library’s User Experience project is available here. Details of the UXLibs conference series can be accessed here.

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Discover vampires and more at History Day: Vampires at the UCL SSEES Library

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This blog post was written by Dr Wojciech Janik, Assistant Librarian at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library. It is cross-posted from the Council for Slavonic and East European Library and Information Services blog. It is one of a series of blog posts on the theme of Magic and the Supernatural, as part of the History Day 2017 event on 31st October.

UCL SSEES Library is very happy to participate in History Day 2017. We will be contributing to the Day alongside number of libraries which hold collections that are particularly strong in the field of History. The History Day will take place on the 31st of October at Senate House, University of London. As the date coincides with Halloween, the organisers of the Day propose to use this opportunity and to “celebrate all that is scary, eerie and magical in libraries and archives”.

[Trans-sylvania.Hondius,Jodocus, 1563-1612. Probably from an English ed. of Hondius’ Atlas minor (1635, 1637 or 1639). Map 189. From the collections of UCL SSEES Library. Copyright UCL Library Services, 2010, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England and Wales Licence. For further information on this Licence please refer to: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/%5D]

At UCL SSEES Library we decided to take this opportunity to focus on vampires! Although it may sound a bit unusual, we actually do have quite strong collection on vampires. In fact UCL SSEES runs a course for our students entitled: Vampires, society and culture: Transylvania and beyond. If you would like to tuck into the subject, you can find the complete reading list here.

But what actually are vampires? According to Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic myth and legend by Mike Dixon-Kennedy (the book is kept at SSEES: Gen.Slav.REF 3-e DIX) “the name itself is borrowed from the Serbian vampir, which is in turn related to the Turkish word ubir, “undead”, though some sources assert an association with the Slavic upir. In certain cases, the vampire had the ability to shift shape at will, its favourite animal manifestation being the wolf, although bats were also common. These vampires were known as vukodlak, which literally translates as “wolf’s hair”, a word that is still in common usage. Common superstition still holds that when a werewolf dies it becomes a vampire”[1].

The most well-known vampire character is of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula, whose archetype was Prince Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. In SSEES Library we have everything you may want to know about Dracula starting with Bram Stoker’s book Dracula (Misc.XXIV.7 STO). If you would like to know more about the origins of the book, please check The origins of Dracula : the background to Bram Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece, edited by Clive Leatherdale (Misc.XXIV.7 STO ORI). Want to know more about Vlad Tapes the historical figure? Check Vlad the Impaler : in search of the real Dracula by M.J. Trow (Rou.IX.c TRO), or perhaps you are looking for a straight forward answer? Then maybe Dracula : sense & nonsense by Elizabeth Miller (Misc.XXIV.7 STO MIL) can help.

Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory (born in 1560) may be a lesser known vampiric figure. However it is enough to say that she has been described as “the most vicious female serial killer in all recorded history”[2] . If you would like to know more please check for example the following books: The bloody countess by Valentine Penrose (H.IX.c PEN) or Dracula was a woman: in search of the blood countess of Transylvania by Raymond T. McNally (Rou.IX.c MAC).

Of course there is much more in Eastern European folklore and mythology than vampires. If you are interested, please check for example A bibliography of Slavic mythology by Mark Kulikowski (Gen.Slav.II KUL), Russian myths by Elizabeth Warner (R.VIII WAR), The gods of the ancient Slavs : Tatishchev and The beginnings of Slavic mythology by Myroslava T. Znayenk (Gen.Slav.XVII ZNA), Mother Russia: the feminine myth in Russian culture by Joanna Hubbsand (R.XVIII HUB) and many others.

Finally if you would like to read about the Eastern Europe as seen by various travellers in XVI – XIX centuries, why not check out our digital collection of travel books? It contains a selection of printed accounts, dating from 1557 to 1860, focusing on journeys in Central Europe, South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia. You can find more than three hundreds books here.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the History Day on 31st October!

Notes:

[1] Mike Dixon-Kennedy, Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend / Mike Dixon-Kennedy. (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1998), 298.

[2] Richard Cavendish: A vicious killer died on August 21st, 1614. In: History Today. Volume 64. Issue 8 August 2014 (http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/death-countess-elizabeth-bathory accessed on 02/09/2017)

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Mexico-United States relations: The Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

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The IHR Library holds a wealth of resources for the history of Mexico-United States relations, covering the period succeeding the Mexican-American War up until the twentieth century. A range of sources, such as, treaties, diaries, autobiographies and letters, are included in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. 


Following the ongoing reclassification project for the Latin American collection and the upcoming Mexico-U.S exhibition, some interesting volumes have been discovered within the library’s holdings. This blog post marks the first in a series that will focus on the IHR Library’s holdings of material concerning the history of Mexico-U.S relations, beginning with the Mexican-American War.

The Mexican–American War, also known as the Mexican War, or Intervención estadounidense en México (American Intervention in Mexico), was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the United Mexican States from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory in spite of its de facto secession in the 1836 Texas Revolution.

The first work being highlighted in this blog post is the Memoirs of José Francisco Palomares by José Francisco Palomares. 

These memoirs date from 1846 to 1848 and the library’s copy is translated from the manuscript in the Bancroft Library by Thomas Workman Temple II. In this first-person narrative, Palomares recounts one of the many military campaigns he launched in California during the 1800s against indigenous people.


Correspondence between the Secretary of War and General Scottmessage of the President of the United States, transmitting the correspondence between the Secretary of War and Major General Scott, with the accompanying documents, in compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 17th instant.

This 63-page document dates from the outset of the War in April 1848 to November 1846, and details the correspondence between the Secretary of War, W.L. Marcy, and Major General Scott.


The Websters : letters of an American army family in peace and war, 1836-1853 by Van R. Baker.

This work offers information on life in the Army and the practices of the War Department, and focuses on the correspondence between Lucien Webster, a career army officer, and his wife Frances Smith. It contains a series of letters and memoirs that provide firsthand accounts of the Mexican-American War.


Chronicles of the gringos : the U.S. Army in the Mexican War, 1846-1848; accounts of eyewitnesses & combatants, edited, with introd., commentaries, and notes, by George Winston Smith & Charles Judah.

This work assembles the eyewitness accounts and letters written by the Gringo (American) soldiers and those close to them. It delves into what happened behind the scenes during the Mexican-American War, such as the daily life of the soldiers, their view of Mexico and its people and how they viewed each other.


For more information on the IHR Library’s holdings on Latin American and United States history more generally, please refer to the following guides:

United States History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Latin American History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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Notice of closure of areas within IHR library: 8-10 August

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There will be some disruption and short-term closure of parts of the IHR library during the period 8th – 10th August while we have some extra shelving installed. A more precise timetable will be available nearer the time. Library staff will assist with access to collections within the affected areas. There will be unaffected areas for readers to work at all times.

The areas affected are:

  • Lower ground reading room: this room will be completely closed for the whole period.
  • Foyle room Floor 1: some noise and short-term closure.
  • Wohl Library Floor 1: this room won’t be closed but there will be some disruption.
  • North American room Floor 2: some noise and short-term closure.
  • 3rd floor reading room: short term closure.

Sorry for any inconvenienced caused. We will try to ensure that disturbance is kept to a minimum.

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Ghanaian History Resources in the Institute’s Library

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If you are passing by the Foyle Room on the first floor there is a new display there show-casing some of the library’s items on Ghanaian history covering the last five hundred years.

Included are works taken from our Portuguese and Low Countries collections which highlight the early European presence in West Africa from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Among this selection is a reproduction of a chapter from the Crónica de D. João II by Garcia de Resende (1470–c. 1536) which describes how John II commissioned Diogo d’Azambuja to construct Elmina Castle (first of many constructed by the Europeans)

Also displayed are a number of works taken from the library’s Colonial Africa collection which document the British presence in and occupation of the area. Included here a two accounts – one Ghanaian, the other British – of the Ashanti Wars which were waged intermittently from 1823 to 1900 between the Ashanti Empire and the invading British.

2017 also marks sixty years since Ghana declared its independence from the British Empire. Negotiations were on-going for many year prior to 1957 as shown by another item in the display detailing a speech made by Kwame Nkrumah in 1953 describing the talks with the British government and what still needed to be achieved.

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1757, 1857 and 1947: three momentous years in India’s recent past: Part 3, 1947

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Last month the library began a series of blog posts about some of the most notable years of India’s history during the British occupation; the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the Rebellion of 1857. Here the last instalment will highlight some works from the library’s collection which give some understanding of the events surrounding the independence of India in 1947 and the subsequent partition.

A particular strength of the collection is its range of official sources which give the viewpoint of the out-going British. The transfer of power, 1942-7, a multi-volume collection of sources published by the H.M.S.O. conveys this view. As one would expect, this work puts the process of independence in the broader context of the 1940s as well as having four volumes (of a twelve volume work) devoted to developments from November 1946 to the 15th August 1947. Also found in our collection are Louis Mountbatten’s report of events during the spring and summer of 1947, as well as the diary of Pamela Mountbatten (1929– ), Lord Mountbatten’s youngest daughter. Although varying in formality, from the official documents issued from the British government to the views of a teenager, all were entrenched in the centre of the British political establishment in India at the time.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mountbatten_addressing_the_Independence_Day_session_of_the_Constituent_Assembly_on_Aug_15,_1947.jpg

Lord Mountbatten addressing the Independence Day session of the Constituent Assembly on August 15, 1947. Seated at his right is Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Assembly.

Moving away from the direct centre of the British administration, however, a number of works in the library offer differing glimpses into developments during 1947 and 1948. A civil servant since 1935 and appointed partition secretary in 1947, the memoirs of Hiralal Muljibhai Patel (1903–1993) convey the impressions of someone not only from within the workings of Britain’s imperial administration but also someone who would have a major role to play in the new Indian administration.

Away from the government buildings and bureaucracies the course of independence and partition can be gleaned from two further works from our collection. One is the account of the American journalist (and later ambassador) William Phillips Talbot (1915–2010) who at the time was working for the Institute of Current World Affairs. He was not only a keen observer of political events but also of the social and humanitarian ramifications of the partition. The second work is the memoirs of Sir Fulque Agnew (1900–1975). Although he was a member of the British nobility, his career was at times far from typical; running away from school at 17 to join the British army and later air-force during the First World War, he would later become a conscientious objector working for the Friends Ambulance Unit during World War Two and would be briefly be in India in 1947–48, undertaking humanitarian work where he witnessed, although briefly, some of the horrors that took place during the partition.

Source Wikimedia Common (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_refugee_train,_Punjab,_1947.jpg)

A refugee train, Punjab, 1947

Understandably these sources only give the briefest of impressions of events that would affect millions. The library, however, remains committed to add to all its collections and acquire works that will offer a broader spectrum of narratives, from the national to the local. Moreover the area around the Institute of Historical Research is lucky to be rich in other collections, notably the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies which offer many more voices from the years 1947 and 1948.

Part 1: 1757

Part 2: 1857

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New printing, scanning and copying system in the IHR library

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The University of London is implementing a new printing, scanning and copying system on Monday 12th – Tuesday 13th June.

There will be some disruption to services on those days and some periods when facilities will be unavailable. Staff may be able to assist if you need to copy or print at that time.

The new system will be shared across Senate House Library, the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Historical Research so if you are a member of multiple libraries you will be able to use your account for printing and copying at all of them.

A new user account will be required for the new system and further instructions and help with this will be available. Balance(s) from your existing account(s) can be transferred.

 

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Women in church courts: Undergraduate research project at the IHR library

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This post was written by a group of undergraduate students from the University of Southampton who recently visited the IHR library to complete a research project. We are happy to welcome students doing group projects to the IHR, so please get in touch if you would like to arrange something similar.

We are second year History undergraduate students studying at the University of Southampton, currently undertaking a group project titled ‘Thou art a fals preestes whore’- The Medieval English Church Courts, with a focus on the treatment and role of women within these courts.  In order to complete our research on such a wide-ranging area of study, we travelled to the Institute of Historical Research hoping to find a greater collection of sources and literature than is available to us locally in Southampton.

The institute was very happy to grant us admission and give us access to collections relevant to our research, and were extremely helpful in assisting us in the process.  As we are all currently based in Southampton, we decided to take advantage of the Institute’s online catalogue which was both informative and easy to navigate, so we could optimise our time spent in the library reading the material rather than searching the collection.

Predominantly, our research covers the medieval period, but increasing material we found pointed to the 17th century onwards, so we decided to comment on the change of treatment of women by the courts from the Medieval period into early Modern. Whilst we all concluded that women were not on an equal playing field to men for a variety of reasons, our research does conclude that despite this, women enjoyed more rights than we originally assumed when beginning the project.

Women and Church Courts in Medieval England

English Church Courts in the Middle Ages stood as a pillar of most communities, under a far less power centralised state than we have today. This meant that the ruling of a Church Court could be damning to your position in society, particularly in more rural locations as communities tended to be smaller and more isolated. The existence of Church courts also spanned over a large period, stretching all the way to the eighteen-fifties, when the final ecclesiastical courts were given over to state courts. By the end of the eighteenth century the Church Courts had lost almost all power in the legal process but it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that there were reforms. It was actually matrimonial matters which were the last to be transferred, moved to the newly created Divorce Court. It can be seen that in fact there was a decline in Church Court’s jurisdiction since the Reformation of the sixteenth century, as Henry VIII ruled out the use of Papal law in favour of Roman Civil law. Although the ecclesiastical courts survived this change, it did mark a change in tradition and to most the end of the medieval period. Therefore, it is interesting to consider cases from within and beyond the Middle Ages to discuss if there is change not only in the outcome of the trials but also the impact of their ruling on people in society. Our research focuses on women, typically seen as more vulnerable members of society, evaluating whether changes in Church jurisdiction affected them.

The most important part of establishing our project and our argument was looking at primary sources, as without Latin at our disposal, we obtained these mainly in translation within secondary source books. Here are some of the books that we studied during our time at the IHR and how they helped us to develop our project further. This is just a small sample of our research:

One book that was useful for our project from the IHR was Anne Tarver’s Church Court Records: An Introduction for Family and Local Historians, (Chichester: Phillimore, 1995). Tarver’s chapter on marriage was particularly helpful due to the clear breakdown of areas the church courts dealt with: contracts, divorce, conjugal rights and jactitation. Whilst the book exceeds our time period, Tarver comments on changes into the nineteenth century and includes relevant primary evidence. A particularly interesting case that Tarver mentions is one of servant, Cordelia Ball, who gives a statement witnessing the cruelty of her master Andrew Dunton to his wife. She suggests to witnessing physical and verbal abuse. (p. 90) The fact that a servant should be called as witness is something we have found to have been a regular occurrence in the Middle Ages to provide evidence in court, so despite going beyond the medieval period it demonstrates that the workings and dealings with church courts actually remained rather similar. As with many sources the issue we have found is a lack of conclusion, as many sources have been damaged, lost or not complete in their recording, which we have had to take into consideration when evaluating these sources.

R.H. Helmholz’ book Marriage Litigation in Medieval England (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1974) gives an overview of particular aspects of marriage litigation including marriage records, divorce cases and witnesses used within the English Church Courts. Helmholz summarises records and provides statistics that clearly summarise the amount of cases in specific areas across England. For example, ‘at Lichfield between 1465 and 1468, suits brought to establish the existence of valid marriages outnumbered suits for divorce by a margin of thirty to fifteen.’ (p. 11) Comparisons such as this helped to summarise the vast amount of marriage records and explain how these related to other cases the courts dealt with such as divorce or impotence. Helmholz mentions the case of Edmund Dronefeld of York from 1364 who appealed to divorce his wife Margaret due to the belief she was married to another man eighteen years prior, making their current marriage void (p. 77).  This was helpful as he cites the original York Cause Paper record, meaning it was easy to corroborate the primary evidence to Helmholz’ writing, especially as this database has recently been uploaded online for easy access.

These previously discussed sources, along with others and our extended research, we concluded that across areas of marriage, impotency, prostitution and heresy, women were at a clear disadvantage in church court cases as they were seen as less reputable than male defendants. Although the change in jurisdiction that church courts held after the reformation may have affected their ability and the impact of a case’s outcome, the church courts were not fully disbanded until the eighteen-fifties and still held an element of power but with a definitive decline. However, in many cases we have come across, church courts in fact provided an environment in which women could express their opinions and challenge men, with higher status women affording male lawyers prosecuting on their behalf. Even if a case did not go in favour of the woman, having a platform in which to defend themselves publicly was an achievement in itself, especially in a period where women often were limited to a domestic sphere.

This is only a small extract from a much wider project and if interested please visit our website to explore women and their role and treatment in English medieval church courts further at: churchcourts.co.uk

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