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Special issue - Political Society in the British Isles, c. 1200-1500

Lordship and Faith: the English Gentry and the Parish Church in the Middle Ages / Nigel Saul

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Review Date: 13 July 2017

The medieval English parish was a fiendishly complex organism, whose intricacies become increasingly brain-frazzling as their microscopic analysis advances. Despite all the attention it has received, in many respects the history of the pre-Reformation  parish remains in many of its aspects terrifyingly incomplete, and scholars working on it even across small geographical areas often have to work from alarmingly limited and deceptive source bases.


Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England / Steven Gunn

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Review Date: 01 June 2017

As Professor Gunn observes in his foreword, this book has been a long time coming: first mooted in fact in 1985 (a very suitable date). This has had two significant consequences which I shall discuss sequentially.First, the time-lapse has meant that Professor Gunn has produced a book of breathtaking scholarship and thoroughness.


Nobility and Kingship in Medieval England: The Earls and Edward I, 1272-1307 / Andrew Spencer

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Review Date: 07 August 2014

Despite the substantial historiography of Edward I’s reign, this is the first real attempt to examine in depth the relations between this king and his earls at a crucial time in the development of both monarchy and nobility. Edward I is a king now remembered mainly for his ‘masterfulness’ when dealing with the English nobility, a term with which Spencer takes some issue.


The Wars of the Roses / Michael Hicks

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Review Date: 01 March 2012

Michael Hicks’s new book on the Wars of the Roses seeks to offer a general explanation of the civil wars that dominated English political life in the second half of the 15th century. Declaring that ‘many textbooks on Late Medieval England have been written by the best academic historians and survey what happened, and yet they still do not explain the Wars’ (p.


Land, Law and People in Medieval Scotland / Cynthia Neville

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Review Date: 01 May 2011

Land, Law and People in Medieval Scotland is best viewed as six self-contained studies under two broad headings: ‘Land and law’ and ‘Land and people’.


The English Parliaments of Henry VII 1485-1504 / Paul Cavill

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Review Date: 01 November 2010

What can we know about late-medieval, pre-Reformation English parliaments? Previous to this book, only a few secondary scatterings. The English Parliaments of Henry VII 1485–1504, therefore, pulls this topic together, gives synthesis to such scattered references, and then thoroughly researches and documents extant bits and pieces from contemporary primary evidence. It offers a definitive analysis of what is knowable, factually and topically.


A Commonwealth of the People: Popular Politics and England’s Long Social Revolution, 1066–1649 / David Rollison

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Review Date: 01 June 2010

David Rollison has written a remarkable work of social and political history: vertiginously ambitious, A Commonwealth of the People showcases England’s constitutional and economic development from the 11th to the 17th century within world histories of nationalism, democratization, and globalization. ‘My subject’, he writes, ‘is the emergence of a “civilization”’ (p. 16).


Scotland Re-formed, 1488-1587 / Jane Dawson

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Review Date: 31 May 2008

Scotland's history is increasingly well served by textbooks: in addition to the Edinburgh History of Scotland (four volumes, 1965-75) and the New History of Scotland (eight volumes, 1981-4), we now have the New Edinburgh History of Scotland (10 volumes, in progress), not to mention Michael Lynch's substantial and phenomenally successful Scotland: A New History (2nd edn., 1992).


Justice and Grace: Private Petitioning and the English Parliament in the Late Middle Ages / Gwilym Dodd

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Review Date: 30 April 2008

The central place of petitioning in the work of the English parliament has long been recognised: the 18th-century editors of the rolls of parliament included unenrolled petitions in their text wherever they felt able to assign them to a particular assembly, and to this day Members of the House of Commons may deposit written petitions in a bag provided for this purpose at the back of…


The Detection of Heresy in Late Medieval England / Ian Forrest

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Review Date: 01 April 2007

A few years ago, I pestered friendly Lollard scholars with a question which tended to flummox them slightly: how did English bishops know how to prosecute heretics? The broadest outlines of a reply had been sketched, in an article from 1936 by H. G. Richardson and another by Margaret Aston in 1993. In addition, Anne Hudson and J. A. F.


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This special issue covering 'Political Society in the British Isles, c. 1200-1500' has been curated for Reviews in History by Matt Raven, a Scouloudi Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. The selections generally concentrate on the aristocracy, and include books covering Edward I's earls, Eleanor of Provence, the English gentry, parliament, heresy, the Wars of the Roses, Margaret of Anjou, medieval Scotland, the parish Church, Tudor England and the long social revolution.

Special issues

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