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.
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
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).