Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

Ill Prepared for war: Shortages, the Fencibles and fear of revolution over here! Guest post by Dominic Fielder

I’ve found that it’s easy to misjudge history, to confuse timelines from the relative luxury of the twenty-first century because we know the outcome of events in the nineteenth. When I started research for a series of books called the King’s Germans, I felt certain of both the timeline and the narrative. But research has […]

Shakespeare’s Richard II

Like many of us, I first learned of Richard II from Shakespeare. Even though I knew nothing about him, I was totally moved during the prison scene while he bemoaned the fate of kings—and I never recovered! But his story goes way beyond the events of this play; in fact, Shakespeare only covered the last […]

Inheritance in Medieval England

Cut-and-dried? Not on your life. Primogeniture, or the “law” governing inheritance, even in its basic form could prove elusive to the most determined lawyer. “Primogeniture among males, equal shares between females, a son always preferred to a daughter, a daughter to a brother or other collateral. For the fief to retain its coherence, it was […]

The Dark Ages: The time of King Arthur. Guest Post by Mary Anne Yarde

In 1846 William John Thoms, a British writer, penned a letter to The Athenaeum, a British Magazine. In this letter, he talked about “popular antiquities.” But instead of calling it by its common name, he used a new term — folklore. What did Thoms mean by this new word? Well, let’s break it down. The […]

The King’s Wardrobe, Great Wardrobe, Privy Wardrobe, Chamber Wardrobe

As my title suggests, the king’s wardrobe was actually broken into four parts. Each part had its own officer, separate function, and different location. And surprisingly, their names aren’t always intuitive. The WARDROBE, was the most important and expensive of the four. It was responsible for the king and his household’s expenses, such as food […]

What is Bastard Feudalism?

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?

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 […]

What was the Verge in 14th Century England?

In a broad sense, from the time of Henry II (and before, probably) until the 15th century, the royal court was itinerant. There was no home base as we think of it; the king often spent a few days or a couple of weeks in one place. He rarely lingered more than a couple of […]

King Richard’s Household: The Servants

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 […]

Following the Tudors in exile: Part Two – Guest Post by Tony Riches

In Part One we followed Jasper and Henry Tudor’s escape from West Wales to Brittany. Now we follow events up to their return: When Yorkist agents began plotting to capture the Tudors Duke Francis moved Jasper and Henry to different fortresses further inland. I stayed by the river within sight of the magnificent Château de […]