Archive for May, 2013

Revealing Records V

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Abigail Stevenson writes about another successful instalment of the Revealing Records conferences:

On 24 May 2013 the fifth annual Revealing Records conference was held at King’s College London. The first Revealing Records in 2009 was the brainchild of Ben Wild, then a PhD student at King’s, and responsibility for organisation has been shared between King’s PhD students ever since. This one-day postgraduate conference provides a welcoming environment for postgraduates to present their research, share ideas and meet others in the academic community.

Professor Julia Crick (KCL) kicked off the morning session, delivering a keynote paper discussing late medieval forgeries in imitative script. The first panel was chaired by Abby Stevenson (KCL) and featured papers from Johannes Depnering (Oxford) who spoke about finding aids in medieval manuscripts and Stephen Lubell (IES) who discussed his work on sixteenth century Hebrew typography. Panel two was chaired by Katie Har (Oxford) and contained papers from Sophia Moesch (KCL) on Augustinian thought in Alcuin’s writings; Alison Hudson (Oxford) on dispositive clauses in late tenth century England; and Hanna Kilpi (Glasgow) on the flexible identity of lesser aristocratic women in twelfth century Yorkshire.

Professor Jonathan Phillips (Royal Holloway) opened the afternoon session with the second keynote paper of the day, discussing his work on Caffaro of Genoa. Panel three, chaired by Giorgio Lizzul (KCL) featured Bláithín Hurley (Cambridge) on music in the renaissance Venetian casa and Katherine French (Oxford) on monastic craft production and its social impact in England, 600-800. Dhwani Patel (KCL) chaired the final panel of the day. Dan Spencer (Southampton) presented a paper about the early sixteenth century account books of Southampton, investigating the role of the town in developments in gunpowder and fortifications; Emily Corran (UCL) spoke about the oath of calumny in medieval canon law; and Kenneth Duggan’s (KCL) paper explored how to interpret medieval English legal records and the problems and benefits of using printed editions and modern technology to aid research. Dr Alex Sapoznik (KCL) gave the closing address.

Organisers and speakers at Revealing Records V. (Thanks to Sophie Ambler for the photo.)

Organisers and speakers at Revealing Records V. (Thanks to Sophie Ambler for the photo.)

Fine of the Month: The Chenduits in the Fine Rolls

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

The latest Fine of the Month is The Chenduits in the Fine Rolls – A Gentry Family in the Reign of Henry III, by Christopher Tilley. Christopher writes:

The political influence of the group in society that historians often call the local gentry or the ‘knightly class’ grew substantially during the reign of Henry III.  These were people who usually held one or a few manors and who were involved in local administration, and who from the fourteenth century governed their localities as Justices of the Peace and in a range of other local administrative offices, and who served as Members of Parliament, representing their shires in the House of Commons.  Their political and social importance is first visible in the rebellion which led to King John’s issue of Magna Carta in 1215, and in the ensuing civil war, where historians have found evidence of large numbers of such people joining the rebellion against the king. By the middle of the thirteenth century, they were coming to be more formally represented in parliament. The year 1254 was the first time knights representing their localities were summoned to parliament; two were ordered to be chosen from each county to attend. A decade later, representatives of the shires, along with those of the towns, played a central role in the parliaments of Simon de Montfort’s period of rule from 1264 to 1265. Under Edward I and Edward II, the role of ‘the Commons’ became routine as the gentry became a central part of England’s parliamentary polity.

The fine rolls of Henry III’s reign contain valuable information about people in this section of society. In my fine of the month, I have examined two fine roll entries that shed light on one gentry family during the reign of Henry III.  The Chenduits were among the wealthier knightly families, though unlike the great magnates, their landed interests were local rather than national and they would have been much less well-off in terms of income. Their handful of manors in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire had probably been in the same family since just after the Norman Conquest of 1066 when their ancestor, Rannulf, serjeant of Berkhamsted castle in Hertfordshire, had apparently been given lands by his lord, Robert, count of Mortain.  The fine roll entries relating to the Chenduits, when examined in the context of other sources help to illustrate a number of issues facing the gentry in the thirteenth century.

From Memory to Written Record – colloquium at King’s

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Sophie Ambler writes:

Members of the project team attended a colloquium on 14 May celebrating the third edition of Michael Clanchy’s seminal book, From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307. Organised by Julia Crick (King’s), the colloquium was held at King’s Maughan Library. The Maughan is the former home of the Public Record Office, where Michael undertook his doctoral work editing the Berkshire eyre of 1248 that inspired From Memory. In this new edition, Michael has rewritten the first chapter ‘Memories and Myths of the Norman Conquest’ to present a ‘maximum view’ of Anglo-Saxon literacy, on which Bruce O’ Brien (Mary Washington University) reflected in his talk ‘From Memory to Written Record in scholarship on Medieval England’. Speakers also included Anna Adamska (Universiteit Utrecht), who spoke on ‘Continental excursions into pragmatic literacy, literate mentalities and beyond’, as well as Hilde de Weerdt (King’s) who gave ‘reflections on From Memory from the perspective of Song dynasty history’, and Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck) who talked about ‘Michael Clanchy and the archive: considerations form early modern Italy’. Stephen Baxter (King’s) also brought news, hot off the press, of an exciting discovery recently made about Exon Domesday, in which a stain has been found that indicates a spear placed across two leaves, apparently in a symbolic act. This relates to Michael’s work on the symbolic use of knives in land transactions in From Memory. Research is underway to date the stain, so no doubt we will hear more in due course.

Clanchy 2

Photo, left to right:
Alice Taylor (King’s), Hilde de Weerdt (King’s), Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck), Stephen Baxter (King’s), Michael Clanchy (IHR), Bruce O’Brien (Mary Washington University), Anna Adamska (Universiteit Utrecht), Julia Crick (King’s).