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My first encounter with the work of Ann Williams was as an undergraduate student in the early 1990s when she presented what was to become chapter two of her magisterial The English and the Norman Conquest to the Norman Conquest special subject group at the University of Oxford. In this paper she outlined the intricate linkages between local networks of kinship, allegiance and interest and political events on the larger, national scale. Subsequently, I was in the audience at a conference on medieval prosopography, some fifteen years ago when Ann gave her paper on Beorhtric, son of Ælfgar. In her exploration of Beorhtric's career, Ann demonstrated very clearly that the late Anglo-Saxon state, precocious, oppressive and efficient as it was, rested on dozens of men like Beorhtric. In other words, that the networks of local kinship, affiliation and shared interest that bound regional elites together were a vital cog in the functioning of the kingdom of the English and that local and national politics were inextricably intertwined. There are many facets to Ann's work on pre- and post-Norman Conquest English society, but it is an investigation of these links between the local and the national that will underpin this essay. The following discussion concerns another Anglo-Saxon family of regional significance and will, briefly, explore the relationship between local and national politics in the second half of the tenth century.
This volume originated in discussions between the editors, Dr Stephen Hipkin (Department of History and American Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University), Mr Cecil Humphery-Smith, OBE (Founder of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, Canterbury), Dr Richard Baker (Principal of the IHgS), Dr Mark Bateson and Dr Malcolm Mercer (Canterbury Cathedral Archives), about holding a conference on medieval cathedrals. The participants in these discussions became the organising committee of the conference, which was duly held between 7 and 9 December 2007 at the North Holmes Road campus of Canterbury Christ Church University, just a few yards from the magnificent Canterbury cathedral, and was a great success. The editors are grateful to all the members of the organising committee for their hard work over many months. The success of the conference also owed a great deal to the scholars who kindly agreed to offer papers. The speakers included all the contributors to this volume along with Dr Julia Barrow of the Department of History, University of Nottingham, Dr Marie-Pierre Gelin, University College London, Mr Cecil Humphery-Smith [whose paper was subsequently published as ‘Medieval Heraldry, Cathedrals and Social Interchange’, Family History: The Journal of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies 23 (196), 2008, 325—35], Catherine Schulze, University of toronto, and Sarah Thomas, University of glasgow.
The true importance of cathedrals during the Anglo-Norman period is here brought out, through an examination of the most important aspects of their history. Cathedrals dominated the ecclesiastical (and physical) landscape of the British Isles and Normandy in the middle ages; yet, in comparison with the history of monasteries, theirs has received significantly less attention. This volume helps to redress the balance by examining major themes in their development between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. These include the composition, life, corporate identity and memory of cathedral communities; the relationships, sometimes supportive, sometimes conflicting, that they had with kings (e.g. King John), aristocracies, and neighbouring urban and religious communities; the importance of cathedrals as centres of lordship and patronage; their role in promoting and utilizing saints' cults (e.g. that of St Thomas Becket); episcopal relations; and the involvement of cathedrals in religious and political conflicts, and in the settlement of disputes. A critical introduction locates medieval cathedrals in space and time, and against a backdrop of wider ecclesiastical change in the period. Contributors: Paul Dalton, Charles Insley, Louise J. Wilkinson, Ann Williams, C.P. Lewis, Richard Allen, John Reuben Davies, Thomas Roche, Stephen Marritt, Michael Staunton, Sheila Sweetinburgh, Paul Webster, Nicholas Vincent.
The subject of ‘memory’ and ‘commemoration’ has become a popular field of study for medievalists over the last few years, often linked to the similarly fashionable subject of identity. Over the last ten or so years, through the work of scholars such as Chris Wickham and James Fentress, Michael Clanchy, Patrick Geary, Amy Remensnyder and Matthew Innes, we now have a greater and more nuanced appreciation of the role memory, remembrance, commemoration and the past played in early medieval societies, as well as the way in which these societies and communities set about constructing memoria and a sense of the past; how they remembered and how they forgot; and the structures and strategies individuals and communities used to remember. Historians no longer create an opposition between collective memory, seen as organic, social and non-constructed, and history, seen as a political, intentional and manipulative process. Equally, there is less of a tendency to equate oral culture with collective memory and written culture with history: it is undoubtedly true that the eleventh and twelfth centuries saw a great increase in the use of the written word but it is rather less clear whether this was accompanied by a transition between memory and history. Historians are aware that ‘memory’, whether individual or collective, could be every bit as deliberate and synthetic as ‘history’.
This work has opened our eyes to new ways of using particular types of evidence.
When the Normans invaded England in 1066 cathedrals and the religious communities based in them were a well-established and prominent feature of the ecclesiastical landscape of the British Isles and Normandy. At that time there were fifteen bishoprics in England and seven in Normandy. The Norman sees of avranches, Bayeux, Coutances, Évreux, Lisieux and Sés were subject to the archbishops of Rouen. Although these bishoprics, ‘with the partial exception of Rouen, had been ruined during the settlement perio d in the early tenth century’, from ‘990 the succession to bishoprics seems to have been continuous, and by the second half of the [eleventh] century all were securely established with new cathedrals in the course of construction and embryonic chapters and diocesan administration evolving everywhere’. In England, where the diocesan structure had survived the viking attacks of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries and the danish conquest of 1016, nearly all of the bishops were suffragans of the archbishops of Canterbury, the only exceptions being the archbishops of york and their suffragans, the bishops of Durham. In Scotland it has been suggested that all except the outmost sees of Caithness and Argyll existed before king David I's reign (1124—53), which means that there were then ten or so bisho prics in the country. None of these held metropolitan authority over the others, which was claimed instead from the 1070s onwards by the archbishops of york and, occasionally, by the archbishops of Canterbury until the papacy placed the Scottish church under its direct control in 1192.
The development of Wales during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, in terms of its political and social structures and legal and cultural institutions, has seen much attention over the last twenty years from scholars who have sought to explore the impact of the Normans in the British Isles and locate Wales's experience in an Insular context; the work of Robin Frame, Huw Pryce, John Gillingham, Robert Bartlett, and above all the late Sir Rees Davies has been enormously influential here. Nevertheless, Welsh political culture in the twelfth century has received less detailed attention than it might. The first problem is to define what we might mean by ‘political culture’ in the twelfth century. What was it? What were its features? Moreover, no historian would wish to sustain the argument that the political values, customs, and norms of society in, say, the Vale of Glamorgan were necessarily the same as those of Llŷn or Eifionydd in Gwynedd: we should be addressing the political cultures of Wales in the plural.
The Europeanization of political culture in Wales
The broad background to this paper is the transformation of Welsh society during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, what Sir Rees Davies identified as ‘far reaching and multi-faceted changes’. These changes fit into a much wider process of social, political, and cultural transformation in Europe's peripheral zones identified by Robert Bartlett in his important and influential Making of Europe.
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