Britain & Ireland

Women and social history can be overlooked themes in periods where records tended to focus on money, religion and Kings. While those latter themes are covered in this section so are features on individual women, their relationships with power and how they were able to influence politics and the people around them. Social history is also addressed through the stories of Hermits, soldiers, tax records and revolting peasantry with nobles. Read more

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  • England’s Saintly Landscape

    Article

    England’s Saintly Landscape, Trevor James, Lichfield Press, 2020, 95 pp, £10-00. ISBN 978-0-905985-94-7 The author is quick to credit W G Hoskins and Eilert Ekwall and their influence is readily apparent in the enthusiasm that permeates this study. Trevor James’ contention is that church dedications, place names, pilgrimage routes, local industries, fairs and...

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  • Exploring local sources

    Article

    Tim Lomas was correct when he said, in his article in the Summer 2019 edition of The Historian, that historians can see much more in medieval documents than the scribes intended.  Lay manors in Bedfordshire are a good example. Eggington manor, in the south-west, was part of a larger estate and held...

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  • Foreigners in England in the later Middle Ages

    Article

    Friend or foe? In an era when there are great debates about immigration and what constitutes nationality, Mark Ormrod introduces us to a new research database which reveals that immigration was an important feature of economic, cultural and political debate in the period 1330-1550... In the Middle Ages, the political...

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  • French chivalry in twelfth-century Britain?

    Article

    The year 1066 - the one universally remembered date in English history, so well-known that banks advise customers not to choose it as their PIN number - opened the country up to French influence in spectacular fashion. During the ‘long twelfth century' (up to King John's death in 1216) that...

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  • Gaming the medieval past

    Article

    Matthew Bennett and Ryan Lavelle explore how the devising, playing and discussion of war games can contribute to historical understanding. Games as tools for learning are engaging for teachers and students alike. Whether computer-driven, board games, miniatures, role-play or re-enactment, they all provide scenarios within which learners can use a...

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  • Harold Son of Godwin

    Article

    To lecture on Harold Godwinson, earl of Wessex, King Harold II of England, in the year 1966 at Hastings is a presumption. We appear to know much about him, and yet in fact there are many gaps in knowledge. Much information, so plausible at first sight, proves unreliable on closer...

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  • Henry V

    Article

    Christopher Allmand updates his earlier pamphlet on Henry V, taking into account research and ideas explored by historians over the last 50 years, to produce a much more rounded view of Henry V. The book is split into three parts - Henry V in history; Henry as he is viewed...

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  • Henry V in the cinema

    Article

    Public attitudes to Henry V are very much influenced by WilliamShakespeare's interpretation. Richard Inverne discusses howShakespeare's version has been translated into cinematic form byLaurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh.Shakespeare indulges himself considerably with his own relatively recent history - Richards II and III, Henrys IV, V and VI, for example. Subsequently...

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  • Hidden histories: landscape spotting – a brief guide

    Article

    The art of landscape spotting – identifying and interpreting visible archaeological features in the countryside – is an accessible, enlightening and fun way to explore our past. By finding these clues in the fields, roads, hedges and hills around us, we can start to piece together the biography of a...

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  • History Abridged: Publishing

    Article

    History Abridged: This feature seeks to take a person, event or period and abridge, or focus on, an important event or detail that can get lost in the big picture. Think Horrible Histories for grownups (without the songs and music). For centuries the only way the written word could be...

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  • How hidden are ordinary people in later medieval England?

    Article

    Tim Lomas explores some documents from the Bishop and Priory of Durham that shed interesting light on the lives of ‘ordinary people’ in medieval England. It is largely a truism to state that the majority of documents from medieval Britain were not designed to shed much light on the lives...

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  • James of St George and the Castles of the Welsh Wars

    Article

    James of St George and the Castles of the Welsh Wars, Malcolm Hislop, Pen and Sword, 2020, 302p, £25-00. ISBN 9781526741301 The title of Malcom Hislop’s book tends to understate the extent of what he manages to embrace in this important volume. The role of James of St George in...

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  • Kilpeck Church: a window on medieval 'mentalite'

    Article

    In the village of Kilpeck, about eight miles south-west of Hereford, may be found the small parish church of St Mary and St David, justifiably described by Pevsner as ‘one of the most perfect Norman village churches in England’ (Pevsner 1963, 201). Seemingly remote today, in the twelfth century the...

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  • King John

    Article

    In the opinion of Stubbs King John was totally, not even competently, bad... Stubbs was the predominant, but no the sole voice of his generation. J.R. Green was already claiming that John was ‘the ablest and most ruthless of the Angevins... In the rapidity and breadth of this political combination...

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  • Late Medieval Taxation Records

    Article

    There are more than 23,000 medieval taxation records from England and Wales in the Public Record Office alone. For many years the vast majority of them have lain undisturbed in their archive boxes, but recent work is showing the true value of some of these as historical sources and making...

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  • Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings

    Article

    Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings, Tom Shippey, Reaktion Books, hardback, 2018, ISBN 9781780239095 Tom Shippey’s major new study of the Vikings comes highly recommended, tipped by Professor Jesse Byock to become ‘a classic’ since ‘it takes the reader deep into the world and thought...

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  • Linking Law: Viking and medieval Scandinavian law in literature and history

    Article

    Ongoing interdisciplinary developments have cast light on the surprisingly sophisticated world of Viking-age and medieval Scandinavian law and its wide-ranging influence in these societies. In many ways, the Viking Age and its inhabitants are more familiar than ever before. From video games to television and films, new narrative frontiers and bigger...

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  • Losing sight of the glory: five centuries of combat surgery

    Article

    Michael Crumplin traces developments in surgery that can be directly attributed to changes in the conduct of war. Little doubt exists that war accelerates and innovates medical care. Today, our armed services can rely upon sound medical treatment if they are sick or wounded, with survival rates of above 90%. This...

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  • MOOCs and the Middle Ages

    Article

    Deirdre O’Sullivan explains how history courses such as England in the Time of Richard III are now freely available to people anywhere in the world who have online access. She reports that in the past two years 40,000 learners have followed this course. MOOCs (Massive Open Access Online Courses) are...

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  • Magna Carta and the Origins of Parliament

    Article

    In February this year the four surviving originals of Magna Carta were briefly brought together in the Houses of Parliament. John Maddicott, examining the Charter's role in the early development of Parliament, shows that the setting was well chosen. What did Magna Carta contribute to the origins of parliament? If...

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