This volume contains papers delivered at the tenth Thirteenth Century England Conference, which met at St Aidan's College, Durham in September 2003. Speakers addressed a variety of themes in social, political, economic, ecclesiastical and cultural history, though (refreshingly) papers often move across two or more of those categories. Some contributors took up the customary invitation to deal with a ‘long’ thirteenth century (from late Henry II to early Edward III), or to look beyond the confines of England itself.
David Carpenter uses a minute investigation of some of the meetings between Henry III and Louis IX, and their wives, to develop a wide-ranging discussion of the similarities and differences between French and English kingship, and between the sources and approaches employed by historians on either side of the Channel. He counterpoints, on the one hand, the close ties, similar values and shared etiquette of the English and French courts, and, on the other, the sharply contrasting political skills of the two kings.
Four papers deal with aspects of English government, politics and society. Nick Barratt traces the long-term significance of the defence, and subsequent loss, of Normandy for royal finances. Only in the reign of Edward I did the monarchy again find a viable fiscal base after the dispersal of royal demesne begun by Richard I and the financial constraints imposed by Magna Carta in response to King John's exactions. Emilia Jamroziak analyses grants of markets and fairs under Henry III. Their variable frequency was linked to changing patterns of royal patronage and the crown's need for cash payments; but the demand for charters, particularly from lesser landholders, reflected the economic and social aspirations of recipients.