Archive for September, 2013

Thirteenth Century England XV, Aberystwyth and Lampeter 2-5 September 2013

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Sophie Ambler reports on TCE XV:

Old College, Aberystwyth

The Old College, the appropriate setting for the Aberystwyth part of the conference.

Medievalists from around the world converged on Aberystwyth this week to attend the fifteenth Thirteenth Century England conference, which focused on the theme of ‘Authority and Resistance in the Age of Magna Carta’. TCE XV was held in the university’s imposing neo-gothic sea-side building, in the shadow of the castle begun by Edmund of Lancaster after 1277. The programme was opened by one of the organisers of the original TCE conference (held in Newcastle in 1985), Peter Coss, who explored the background of the knights accused of treason against Henry III in 1225. On Tuesday proceedings moved to Trinity St David in Lampeter, where delegates viewed a sample of manuscripts from the university’s archive,  and heard talks from Ian Forrest, Jennifer Jahner, Judith Collard and John Sabapathy on topics ranging from political poetry to the illustrations of Matthew Paris. Back at Aberystwyth on Wednesday, speakers Rhun Emlyn and Owain Wyn Jones considered thirteenth-century rebellion from a Welsh perspective, while Philippa Hoskin, Fergus Oakes and Richard Cassidy considered various aspects of the reign of Henry III and the period of reform and rebellion 1258-65, and Beth Hartland introduced the Breaking of Britain project  and the People of Northern England database (PoNE). The final day saw papers by Helen Birkett, Sita Steckel and Melissa Jones before a trip to see the medieval seals and manuscripts held by the National Library of Wales. Congratulations and thanks must go to Björn Weiler, Janet Burton and Philip Schofield for organising another super conference. This was the last TCE conference hosted by the team from Aberystwyth and Lampeter, who will be handing over the reins to new organisers in Cambridge for the 2015 conference.

Aberystwyth castle

The genuinely medieval castle, which overlooks the Old College.

‘New Perspectives on the Scottish Wars of Independence’, 23 August

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Sophie Ambler reports on the Breaking of Britain project conference:

Glasgow conference speakers

Left to right: Sarah Tebbit, Sophie Ambler, Fergus Oakes, Richard Cassidy, Dauvit Broun, Keith Stringer, Beth Hartland, John Reuben Davies, Matthew Hammond, David Carpenter

Several members of the Fine Rolls team headed to the beautiful surroundings of Glasgow university on 23 August for the finale of the Breaking of Britain project, the ‘New Perspectives on the Scottish Wars of Independence’ conference. Funded by the AHRC, the project has brought together investigators from the Universities of Glasgow (Dauvit Broun), Lancaster (Keith Stringer) and King’s (David Carpenter), who have headed a project team exploring the thirteenth-century background to the Wars of Independence.  One of the major themes of the day was the burdens and benefits of English government in northern England in the thirteenth century. Using evidence from the Fine Rolls, David Carpenter showed how people in the northern counties of England benefited from the English king’s provision of justice, although they found the amercements and taxes imposed on them from Westminster incredibly burdensome, especially in comparison with the lighter hand of the king of Scots. Richard Cassidy discussed the sheriffs of northern England, who included the notorious William Heron (whom Matthew Paris dubbed ‘the hammer of the poor’), while Beth Hartland introduced the People of Northern England database (PoNE), one of the project’s major outcomes. The conference also addressed the influence of English politics and ideas in Scotland: John Reuben Davies, who has been preparing a stratigraphic edition of the Chronicle of Melrose as part of the Breaking of Britain project, looked at the chronicle’s coverage of England; Fergus Oakes discussed the involvement of Scottish personnel in the English civil war of 1258-65; and Sophie Ambler looked at the possible influence of Montfortian ideas on the actions of the Scottish barons and bishops who took power from King John Balliol in 1295. Sarah Tebbit rounded off the day by considering how the Scots crafted their case against Edward I in the early fourteenth century. The full conference programme can be found here.

To learn more about the historical background to the Wars of Independence, the nature of cross-border society and the Breaking of Britain, listen here to a podcast discussion by the project’s investigators.