Disunited Kingdoms:Peoples and Politics in the British Isles 1280-1460

Michael Brown  
Januar 2013
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As king of England, lord of Ireland, conqueror of the Welsh prince and Scottish king, Edward I in 1305 seemed to contemporaries to have cemented an English royal hegemony over the British Isles, uniting them under his rule. An English poet praised his royal lord ‘our king Edward’, ‘who puts to flight his enemies like a leopard’.  The king’s enemies, the Scots and Welsh, were the ‘wolves’ who hoped to tear England apart.  Instead Edward had now subdued them to his will and authority.


But the expectation that Edward’s authority would create a single hierarchy in which the English nation would define and dominate the British Isles never came to pass. Instead, the 14th century became a crucial period in the history of the British Isles, an era shaped by Edward I of England, by Robert Bruce in Scotland and by Owain Glyn Dwr in Wales and characterised by emerging senses of nation and race.


This textbook brings new research and historiography to students of medieval history, and is suitable for undergraduate history students new to the period, and those returning to it.


  • The first full length study of this period in British history

  • Up-to-date historiography and research have been fully incorporated

Table of Contents





Introduction: Warlords and Sovereign Lords


Chapter One: Edward the Conqueror

Chapter Two: Robert Bruce

Chapter Three: Sovereignty and War

Chapter Four: Rulers and Realms

Chapter Five: Peoples, Crises and Conflicts

Chapter Six: Elites and Identities

Chapter Seven: Borderlands: Lords and Regions

Chapter Eight: Hundred Years Wars: The European Context

Chapter Nine: Politics and Power in the British Isles (c.1360-1415)

Chapter Ten: Four Lands: The British Isles in the Early Fifteenth Century

Conclusions Nations and Unions





Back Cover


In the last decades of the thirteenth century the British Isles appeared to be on the point  of unified rule, dominated by the lordship, law and language of the English. However by 1400 Britain and Ireland were divided between the warring kings of England and Scotland, and peoples still starkly defined  by race and nation.   Why did the apparent trends towards a single royal ruler, a single elite and a common Anglicised world stop so abruptly after 1300?  And what did the resulting pattern of distinct nations and extensive borderlands contribute to the longer-term history of the British Isles? 


In this innovative analysis of a critical period in the history of the British Isles, Michael Brown addresses these fundamental questions and shows how the national identities underlying the British state today are a continuous legacy of these years. Using a chronological structure to guide the reader through the key periods of the era, this book also identifies and analyses the following dominant themes throughout:


- the changing nature of kingship and sovereignty and their links to wars of conquest

- developing ideas of community and identity

- key shifts in the nature of aristocratic societies across the isles

- the European context, particularly the roots and course of the Hundred Years War


This is essential reading for undergraduates studying the history of late Medieval Britain or Europe, but will also be of great interest for anyone who wishes to understand the continuing legacy of the late medieval period in Britain.


Michael Brown is Reader in Scottish History at the University of St Andrews.  He has previously worked at the University of Aberystwyth, University College Dublin and the University of Aberdeen.  Previous books include James I (1994), The Black Douglases (1998), The Wars of Scotland 1214-1371 (2004) and Bannockburn: The Scottish War and the British Isles 1307-1323 (2008).