Archives: Richard II

What is Bastard Feudalism?

June 20, 2018 by Mercedes Rochelle | No Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

Bastard Feudalism is a term I kept bumping into during my recent research into the fourteenth century. I finally had to stop and investigate. Just what is it, and how does it differ from feudalism as I’ve always known it? It turns out that this was originally used in the Victorian era; the term “bastard […]

What was the Marshalsea court?

April 16, 2018 by Mercedes Rochelle | 2 Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

Today when we hear about the Marshalsea we think of the infamous 19th century Southwark prison with all its associated tortures. But come back with me to the 14th century and you’ll see that the word has a totally different meaning—at first, anyway. Originally, the marshalsea (not capitalized—also known as the avenary) was the largest […]

King Richard’s Household: the Retinue

January 8, 2018 by Mercedes Rochelle | 3 Comments | Filed in Book Reviews, Richard II

My interest in “The Royal Household and the King’s Affinity: Service, Politics and Finance in England 1360-1413” by Chris Given-Wilson goes way beyond what I can discuss in a book review. In Part One I talked about the king’s servants, from the lowest page to the great officers. When we move on to the chapters […]

King Richard’s Household: The Servants

December 13, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 5 Comments | Filed in Book Reviews, General Topics, Richard II

The more I research, the better I understand that what goes on behind the scenes is just as important as the high-profile episodes defining a king’s reign. So naturally, I was thrilled to discover “The Royal Household and the King’s Affinity: Service, Politics and Finance in England 1360-1413” by Chris Given-Wilson; this book brought me […]

The Lords Appellant Part 3: The Merciless Parliament

November 12, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 1 Comment | Filed in Richard II

The Merciless Parliament, convened in Feb 1388, was a successful attempt by the barons and the commons to clean house, so to speak, and bring the king totally under their control. It was very much an “us versus them” scenario, and Richard II did not have the resources to fight the powerful nobles backed by […]

The Lords Appellant Part 2: Radcot Bridge

October 9, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 2 Comments | Filed in Richard II

In Part 1, we saw the first year of the Appellants’ attempt to control the kingdom by a ruling council. Richard spent most of that year traveling around the kingdom, trying to secure support (mostly from York, Chester and north Wales). He questioned eminent judges concerning the legality of the last Parliament, trying to reestablish […]

The Lords Appellant Part 1: A Great and Continual council

September 13, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 5 Comments | Filed in Richard II

Although the word appellant in modern terms refers to a petitioner appealing to a higher court, when we look at the fourteenth century the whole concept takes a left turn. First of all, you always see the words Lords Appellant capitalized, and it only seems to refer to those involved in the first legal crisis […]

What was Livery and Maintenance (or Retaining)?

July 17, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 2 Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

Livery and Maintenance went hand-in-hand with chivalry, and created problems throughout the high middle ages. Once I realized that “retaining” was the verb for “retainer” I started to get the idea. The noble or king had his retainers, who were either in his household (given food and clothing) or part of his social and political […]

The Poll Tax, Part 2: The Peasants’ Revolt is sparked

June 12, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 2 Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

As we saw in Part 1, by the Parliament of 1380, the Commons were up against the wall. The government under the new Chancellor Sudbury was desperate for money. In France, the earl of Buckingham had squandered the money raised from the last Poll Tax; the army was a half year in arrears; Gaunt needed […]

The Poll Tax, Part One: The Cupboard is Bare

May 23, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 2 Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

Although the poll tax was said to have been used all the back to ancient times, it’s most widely remembered in relation to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. According to Wikipedia: “The word ‘poll’ is an archaic term for ‘head’ or ‘top of the head’. The sense of ‘counting heads’ is found in phrases like […]