The recent publication of two volumes of the Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, covering the period from 1400 to 1695 in just over 1600 pages, indicates something of the way in which the study of the book, or of books, has been transformed in the past few years.(1) The subject has moved from its traditional areas of investigation, the history of
The Winchester pipe rolls are among the very greatest monuments to medieval English administration and record-keeping.
This is a study of how individuals (at all levels of society) reacted to serious wrongs done to them in England during the period of three centuries between c.1000 and c.1300, both their immediate emotional response, and the socially and legally sanctioned vengeance they might subsequently exercise (or seek to exercise) to assuage and satisfy their ange
The Parliament Rolls are the principal record of the meetings of English Parliaments from the 13th to the early 16th centuries. Their importance to scholars of medieval England has long been recognised; between 1776 and 1777 they were edited, under the direction of the Reverend John Strachey, and published as the six-volume edition of Rotuli Parliamentorum.
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
In March 1279 King Edward I commissioned a great inquiry into landholding in England. The surviving returns were arranged by hundred, hence their name ‘the Hundred Rolls’, and give a picture of rural society which, in its level of detail, goes far beyond that found in Domesday Book. If this was intended as a second Domesday, it was a superior version of it.
Helen Lacey’s excellent book appears at a time when the exercise of executive and judicial clemency has become a topical talking point.
This a remarkable book, based on decades of close study of medieval conveyancing documents. The abbreviations list more than 150 cartularies or other charter collections that are cited. Technical as many of the concerns are, the subject provides an ideal bridge between legal and other aspects of history.
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.
Can we conceive of a peculiarly ‘late medieval’ notion of family?