Tag Archives: Medieval History

Semester Two: My Work So Far – Gwyneth

So far this semester, I have been dedicating most of my time to primary sources. To begin with, I researched the nature of medieval chronicle sources, which provide the most abundant material for the reign of Richard II, and then examined some of the principle chroniclers in more depth. My analyses can be found in my last few blog posts (here, here, and here). Over spring break, I worked on reading many of the sources complied in A. K McHardy’s The Reign of Richard II: From Minority to Tyranny, 1377-97. This book has been something of a godsend for my project, since it offers an extensive collection of the most important primary sources from the reign translated from the original Latin, French, and Middle English into modern English. Needless to say, McHardy’s efforts have made my work significantly easier.

Reading the many chronicle excerpts, correspondences, parliamentary petitions, etc. included in the book could certainly be tedious at times. My purpose in this task was to identify any mention of Richard’s royal affinity, since this is the focus of my research. However, since these sources tend to bounce between many different goings-on in the political world, it is quite difficult to tell if any given source will mention the affinity or not. Therefore, my only option was to examine them all. This task was made less daunting by concentrating on the period after 1387, when it is likely that Richard first began directly seeking out the loyalty of prominent men in the localities. In the future, I may need to go back to some earlier sources in order to obtain a reference for the nature of the king’s affinity at the beginning of the reign.

Digging into the primary sources made me realize that I need to obtain some more information about political society in general at the time of Richard’s reign. For the most part, I have only looked at the medieval concept of the affinity in the context of the king, when it was in fact of great importance to the magnates as well and was a crucial component of feudal society in the localities. Interestingly, it is often pointed out that while completely novel for a king, the locally focused approach to retaining pursued by Richard in the 1390s was very similar to that typically used by magnates. Therefore, I feel that in order to understand the significance and logic of Richard’s policy, it is important to familiarize myself with the way in which magnate affinities were organized and operated during this time. Thus, my next task will be to step back momentarily from the lens of Richard II and focus on some readings pertaining to local political structures in the late medieval period more generally. After doing this and perhaps examining some more primary sources, it is my hope that I will have gained enough direction to begin drafting my final paper.


Image: http://www.medievalists.net/2016/02/a-quick-guide-to-medieval-monastic-orders/


Medieval Chronicles Part II: The Major Sources for the Reign of Richard II -Gwyneth

As promised in my previous blog post, this week I will be discussing some of the most principle chroniclers active during the reign of Richard II. Of these, one of the most important and frequently cited is Thomas Walsingham (c. 1340 – c. 1422), a monk at the prominent Hertfordshire monastery of St. Albans. Although Walsingham is widely recognized as having been a prolific author, there remains scholarly debate as to exactly which of the numerous chronicles produced at St. Albans he contributed (Stow 69-70). Stow attributes the Chronicon Angliae, the Annales Ricardi Secundi, the Ypodigma Neustriae, and the Historia Anglicana to Walsingham. Although none of the books I have read cite the Ypodigma Neustriae, each of the other three sources are cited and attributed to Walsingham in at least two of my books, with the Historia Anglicana cited in all three books (Gundy; Fletcher; Saul). Thus it seems to me that these three texts can be said to have been definitively attributed to Walsingham by scholars. Continue reading

Medieval Chronicles (part one) -Gwyneth

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that the next step in my research project is to look at primary source material. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to talk about primary sources a bit more specifically in this blog post. In regard to the different types of written sources from the medieval period, Joel T. Rosenthal, editor of Understanding Medieval Primary Sources, provides a useful breakdown of the material into three major categories: narrative histories, government records, and private or personal records (Rosenthal 1-2). Since the first category – that of narrative history – has arguably been the most influential in shaping analyses of Richard’s reign, as well as the most easily accessible to amateur historians such as myself (there is even a Medieval Chronicle Society!), it is here that I will focus my post. Continue reading

Planning my End-of-Semester Work -Gwyneth


Since I am planning to continue my independent project next semester, during which time I will write my final paper, there was not a natural answer to the question of exactly what I will produce as my demonstration of learning for this semester. While meeting with T. Margaret a few weeks ago, we decided that I should create an extensive annotated bibliography to turn in at the end of the semester. Continue reading

My Project So Far -Gwyneth




MedievalMonk  During my time doing independent research this semester, I have learned a great deal about just how challenging it is to conduct research on my own. At the same time, I think I have accomplished a lot in spite of the difficulties of adjusting to this new structure of learning and working. Continue reading

1386: The Start of a Crisis -Gwyneth


For this blog post and those in the weeks to come, I plan on writing in greater detail about the crisis years of 1386-1388 and eventually the 1390s, since it seems likely that this is the time period I will end up focusing on in my research. To begin, I will discuss the tensions that erupted in 1386 as a result of the threat of a French invasion. Continue reading

The Thesis Hunt Begins -Gwyneth

I’ve gotten to the point in the year where the need to give my research a specific direction has become quite pressing. That is to say, I need to come up with a thesis very soon. Since this is a big and somewhat intimidating step that will determine what I will be doing for the rest of this project, I thought it would be useful to lay out some possible directions I could go in before making any decisions. Continue reading

Racism, Sexism, and General Bigotry in Medieval Studies -Gwyneth

My first time witnessing discrimination in the world of Medieval studies occurred last spring, when I read this article from the website of the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, written by U Chicago medievalist Rachel Fulton Brown. In it, Fulton Brown criticizes the protests that prompted the cancellation of a talk scheduled to be given by alt-right political commentator and alleged white nationalist Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkley. Continue reading

An Unlikely Comparison: Richard II & Donald Trump – Gwyneth

For this week’s blog post, I would like to highlight a recent surge in Richard II’s popularity. Not as a topic of discussion at the average family dinner table, of course (this would be quite odd indeed), but among historians and literary scholars. This is due to a fascinating connection made between our current political situation and the reign of Richard II as depicted by Shakespeare. In several articles I have read online, Donald Trump has been compared to Shakespeare’s version of Richard. I thought it would be interesting to explore this comparison in my blog post, since it connects my project (which can easily come off as being remote from and insignificant to our lives today) to the modern world. Continue reading

Medieval Mania: An Introduction to My Project – Gwyneth

The success of Game of Thrones, Skyrim, Lord of the Rings, and the like in the world of entertainment prove that modern people are deeply enthralled with the Middle Ages. I myself am more familiar than most with the allure of the epic battles, court intrigue, and romantic costumes associated with the medieval era. And yet for all our fascination with the period, medieval history is given very little attention in an academic context, especially in high school. Continue reading