About

-examining ‘ordinary’ medieval people

-breaking ‘national’ frameworks of medieval studies

-deconstructing modern perceptions of ‘medieval’

Projects

Minorities under English Rule: Flemish in England and Gaels in English Ireland, 1150-1300

The histories of medieval Flanders and Ireland are usually examined by historians from different perspectives, but the treatment, status, and perception of the Flemish in twelfth- and thirteenth-century England have remarkable similarities with that of the Gaels in twelfth- and thirteenth-century English Ireland. This project will compare the social and legal status of these two groups in the instances when they were ‘accepted’ (allowed to use the English royal courts and hold lands in fee) and when they were ‘rejected’ (denied access to the courts or disseised of/blocked from holding lands). It will also compare the social and legal statuses of these groups to the xenophobic rhetoric of medieval English commentators during a period of ‘hardening’ English identity.

Beyond Exclusion: Ethnic Interactions and Social Complexity of English Law in Medieval Ireland

For over a century one narrative has persisted: absolute and ab initio ethnic-based discrimination against all Gaelic peoples within medieval ‘English Ireland’. This project interrogates this narrative and provides some of the abundant evidence to the contrary: acceptance of Gaelic Irish peoples in towns and manors and the existence of Gaelic people who could use the English royal courts in Ireland. A forensic study of the surviving ‘Irish Plea Rolls’ reveals a great deal of variation in how members of various ‘ethnic’ groups who came before the royal courts were treated. The treatment of women, Ostpeople (Hiberno-Scandinavians), Welsh, Manx, and Scots demonstrates that English Ireland was more than a dichotomy of unfree Gaelic men and free English men.

Memberships

Selden Society

Irish Legal History Society

Stephen Hewer

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@hewers

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