This book examines trials, civil and criminal, ecclesiastical and secular, in England and Europe between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries. The cases examined range from a fourteenth century cause-célèbre, the attempted trial of Pope Boniface VIII for heresy, to investigations of obscure people for sexual and religious offences in the city states of Geneva and Venice. These are examples of the operation in the past of different legal, judicial systems, applied by differently constituted courts, royal and manorial, secular and ecclesiastical, which adopted different procedures, adversarial and inquisitorial. Ranging from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century, the book considers criminal trials and civil litigation conducted in royal, manorial and Church courts in late medieval and early modern England. These trials concentrate on the structure, jurisdiction, functions, and procedures of the courts and on the roles of the judges of fact and of law, both amateur and professional, who composed them. The trials of Giorgio Moreto and of Laura Querini were influenced by the politics of the Venetian State and its ongoing and highly charged relationship with the power of the Church. Discussing the legal history of continental Europe, the book then shifts the emphasis from the judges and jurors to the prisoners arraigned before the courts, to the victims of prosecution or to the highly questionable images of them created by their enemies.
This book attempts to interrogate the literary, artistic and cultural output of early modern England. Following Constance Classen's view that understandings of the senses, and sensory experience itself, are culturally and historically contingent; it explores the culturally specific role of the senses in textual and aesthetic encounters in England. The book follows Joachim-Ernst Berendt's call for 'a democracy of the senses' in preference to the various sensory hierarchies that have often shaped theory and criticism. It argues that the playhouse itself challenged its audiences' reliance on the evidence of their own eyes, teaching early modern playgoers how to see and how to interpret the validity of the visual. The book offers an essay on each of the five senses, beginning and ending with two senses, taste and smell, that are often overlooked in studies of early modern culture. It investigates Robert Herrick's accounts in Hesperides of how the senses function during sexual pleasure and contact. The book also explores sensory experiences, interrogating textual accounts of the senses at night in writings from the English Renaissance. It offers a picture of early modern thought in which sensory encounters are unstable, suggesting ways in which the senses are influenced by the contexts in which they are experienced: at night, in states of sexual excitement, or even when melancholic. The book looks at the works of art themselves and considers the significance of the senses for early modern subjects attending a play, regarding a painting, and reading a printed volume.
Reorienting the narrative of digital media studies to incorporate the medieval, Participatory reading in late-medieval England traces affinities between digital and medieval media to explore how participation defined reading practices and shaped relations between writers and readers in England’s literary culture from the late-fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries. Traditionally, print operates as the comparative touchstone of both medieval and digital media, but Participatory reading argues that the latter share more in common with each other than either does with print. Working on the borders of digital humanities, medieval cultural studies, and the history of the book, Participatory reading draws on well-known and little-studied works ranging from Chaucer to banqueting poems and wall-texts to demonstrate how medieval writers and readers engaged with practices familiar in digital media today, from crowd-sourced editing to nonlinear apprehension to mobility, temporality, and forensic materiality illuminate. Writers turned to these practices in order to both elicit and control readers’ engagement with their works in ways that would benefit the writers’ reputations along with the transmission and interpretation of their texts, while readers pursued their own agendas—which could conflict with or set aside writers’ attempts to frame readers’ work. The interactions that gather around participatory reading practices reflect concerns about authority, literacy, and media formats, before and after the introduction of print. Participatory reading is of interest to students and scholars of medieval literature, book, and reading history, in addition to those interested in the long history of media studies.
This collection and the romances it investigates are crucial to our understanding of the aesthetics of medieval narrative and to the ideologies of gender and sexuality, race, religion, political formations, social class, ethics, morality and national identity with which those narratives emerge.
Kinship, poor relief and
the welfare process in
early modern England
The poor in England
Kinship, poor relief and the welfare process
Overview – the ‘problem’ of kinship
Historiographical writing on the depth and functionality of kinship
in early modern England is limited. It is also contradictory. On
the extent and depth of kinship networks, for instance, early commentators such as Peter Laslett were clear that English households
tended to be relatively small and simple and that, because of
demographic constraint (migration, ‘background
This book investigates the experience of English poverty between 1700 and 1900 and the ways in which the poor made ends meet. It represents the single most significant attempt in print to supply the English 'economy of makeshifts' with a solid, empirical basis and to advance the concept of makeshifts to a precise delineation. The book attempts to explain how and when the poor secured access to these makeshifts and suggest how the balance of these strategies might change over time or be modified by gender, life-cycle and geography. It begins with the general and particular ways in which 'makeshifts' might be constructed, examining the rural agricultural poor and the shifting hierarchy of 'Fuel, dole and bread'. The book confirms the paltry allowances awarded through the poor law and implicitly contrasts them with the relatively generous schemes operated by individual and institutionalised charities such as the Quakers in Lancashire rural communities. Voluntary charity in the makeshift economy is discussed in the context of cultural implications of incorporating charity within survival strategies. The book then tackles the complicated relationship between poverty and social crime by looking at both contemporary published opinion and the evidence of the courts. A survey of pamphlet literature touching on credit, debt and pawnbroking reveals that outspoken, damning criticisms of pawnbrokers were often repeated but rarely qualified by any consideration of the cash flow exigencies of poverty. Finally a micro-study of the Lancashire township of Cowpe illustrates both the quantity and complexity of the makeshift economy.
Amateur and professional judges
The role of amateur and professional
judges in the royal courts of
late medieval England
The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries witnessed a rapid expansion in the
scope of royal justice in England. The growing demand for legal remedies and
the need to enforce public order led to an expansion in the activities of the
Westminster courts and in the increasing provision of judicial commissions
(some ad hoc, others on a more regular basis) in the shires.1 The expansion
was inevitably accompanied by the need for a
Trials in manorial courts
Trials in manorial courts
in late medieval England
A legal historian approaching the history of the manorial courts is aware that
the comprehensive literature of the manor has been primarily concerned with
the social, economic or political significance of the manor court. The rolls
have been a rich source of research into the nature of medieval society, including questions of personal status, family structures, lordship, demography
and social relationships, as well as the practice of agriculture and land
collective vision of a particular
tradition, period, background or ‘school’.
It’s logical and usual to consider even impersonal and
anonymous artworks as an expression of a general consensus ( A
Mirror for England , p. 4). 1
R AYMOND DURGNAT’S A Mirror for England:
British Movies from Austerity to Affluence , which deals
Romancing the East: Greeks and
Saracens in Guy of Warwick
Guy’s ties to the East
For decades, literary critics such as Frederic Jameson and Stephen Knight
have argued that medieval romance, for the most part, unquestioningly reflects dominant ideologies of the ruling elite.1 Far from conforming to this prescription, however, the fourteenth-century popular
romance Guy of Warwick engages contemporary socio-political concerns
in critical and transformative ways. Guy’s fantastic reworking of England’s past through its titular hero both recognises