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

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.


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