HIST 371 Lecture Outline (Fall 2016 – Week 1)

Week 1


David Starkey’s Monarchy, 2: Medieval Monarchs (54:44 min., beginning with Henry II, 00:26-11:45 min.)
(John: 12:44-17:52; Henry III, to 1258: 17:53-22:22)


Guillaume, 9th duke of Aquitaine and 7th count of Poitou (1071-1126; grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine): “Ferai un ver pos mi sonelh” (6:21 min.)

Medieval fiddle (vielle) music, played by Barry Hall (2:18 min.)

Beatriz, Countess of Dia, “A Chanter M’er” (c. 1180; 2:12 min.)

Richard the Lionheart, “Ja nun hons pris” (early 1190s; 2:41 min.)


Introduction to course:

Discuss syllabus, required textbooks and online readings, grading and deadlines, exams and research paper, discussion sections, expectations.

IMPORTANT: I need to be able to contact you via your UWM e-mail address. If you use another Internet Service Provider instead (e.g., Yahoo!
or Gmail), you must put a Forward command on your UWM e-mail address immediately, so that your UWM e-mail will be forwarded to the e-mail
address that you actually use.


A number of standard abbreviations are commonly used by historians, and you need to be familiar with them. They include:

i.e. (Latin, “id est“) = “that is” (often used to signify, “in other words”).
e.g. (Latin, “exempli gratia“) = “for example”
c. = circa = “around” Thus, c. 1215 means “around 1215”
An event that occurred at an unknown date within a range of dates can be expressed as, e.g., “1 January x 30 May,” or “1200 x 1213”

recte = “rightly” or “correctly” (used to correct an error or omission in a text). E.g., “The chronicle says that Henry III died in 1273 (recte 1272).”
sic = “thus” (often used to point out an oddity or error in a text). E.g., “The chronicle says that Henry III died in 1273 (sic).”

“Why study history from primary sources?”


Timeline of British history, by reign:


Timeline of European history, 1200-1300:



Video: Robert Bartlett, Inside the Medieval Mind: Power (Part 4 of 6)

(9:58 minutes)
(start at 4:40- end, King John)

Video: Robert Bartlett, Inside the Medieval Mind: Power (Part 5 of 6)

(9:58 minutes)
(00:00 – 1:48, Magna Carta)



The Angevin “Empire”:


Henry III’s territories:


Medieval England and Wales:


Wales and the Marches in the Thirteenth Century:


Map of England by Matthew Paris


Money denominations (click here for image of money-changers weighing coin, from the windows of Chartres Cathedral, 1205-15):

£1 = one pound (Latin libra, French livre, Italian lira, German pfund)
= 20s. = twenty shillings (Latin solidi, French sols or sous, Italian soldi, German schilling)
= 240d. = 240 pence or pennies (Latin denarii, French deniers, Italian denari, German pfennig)

12d. = 1 s.
20s. = £1
thus: £1 = 20s. = 240d.

The silver penny (like this one minted at London in 1205, under King John) was the most common coin in circulation. Half-pennies and quarter-pennies were also used:

1/2d. = 1 ob. (Latin obolus) = one ha’penny or halfpenny (plural: ha’pence or ha’pennies)
1/4d. = 1 q. (Latin quadrans) = one farthing

Other standard divisions of a pound were:

1m. = mark (Latin marca = 2/3 pound) = 13s. 4d.
1/2 mark (= 1/3 pound) = 6s. 8d.


formulary: collection of model documents, such as letters, legal documents, and financial accounts
dictamen, or ars dictaminis: the art of letter-writing
collegiate church: a church where the daily worship services are maintained by a community of non-monastic priests organized as a self-governing
corporate body (“college of canons”), headed by a dean or provost
canon law: ecclesiastical law
liberal arts: grammar, logic rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music

Sample primary sources:


1. Chronicle account by Roger of Wendover, monk of St. Albans, of King John’s loss of Normandy to King Philip Augustus of France in 1203-4. John’s queen was Isabelle, heiress of the count of Angoulême; John had married her in August 1200, when she was twelve years old. Because Isabelle had been betrothed to the vassal of an important Poitevin lord, John de Lusignon, and because de Lusignon appealed the matter to King Philip, the French king used the pretext of King John’s refusal to appear before his court in Paris to invade King John’s French possessions. A major prize was Philip’s capture of the castle on the “Rock of Andelys” — Richard the Lionheart’s gem, Château Gaillard:

How the nobles of England deserted king John in Normandy.

A.d. 1203. King John spent Christmas [25 December 1202] at Caen in Normandy, where, laying aside all thoughts of war, he feasted sumptuously with his queen daily, and prolonged his sleep in the morning till breakfast time. But after the solemnities of Easter [6 April1203] had been observed, the French king, having collected a large army, took several castles belonging to the king of England, some of which he levelled to the ground, but the stronger ones he kept entire. At length messengers came to king John with the news, saying, the king of the French has entered your territories as an enemy, has taken such and such castles, carries off the governors of them ignominiously bound to their horses’ tails, and disposes of your property at will, without any one gainsaying him. In reply to this news, king John said, ” Let him do so; whatever he now seizes on I will one day recover;” and neither these messengers, nor others who brought him the like news, could obtain any other answer. But the earls and barons, and other nobles of the kingdom of England, who had till that time firmly adhered to him, when they heard his words and saw his incorrigible idleness, obtained his permission and returned home, pretending that they would come back to him, and so left the king with only a few soldiers in Normandy . . .

How king John came to England and exacted large sums of money from the nobles.

King John at length seeing his fault, and that he was destitute of all military supplies, took ship in all haste and on St. Nicholas’s day [6 December 1203] landed at Portsmouth. Then urging against the earls and barons as an excuse, that they had left him in the midst of his enemies on the continent, by which he had lost his castles and territories through their defection, he took from them the seventh part of all their moveable goods; and in this act he did not refrain from laying violent hands on the property of conventual or parochial churches, inasmuch as he employed Hubert [Walter] archbishop of Canterbury as the agent of this robbery in regard to the church property, and Geoffrey Fitz-Peter [Earl of Essex], justiciary of England, for the goods of the laity, and these two spared no one in the execution of their orders. The French king, when he learnt that the king of England had left his transmarine territories, went in great strength to each of the towns and castles of the district, explaining to the citizens and governors of castles that they were deserted by their lord. He also said that he was the principal lord of those provinces, and that if the English king should ignominiously abandon them, he had no intention of losing the superior authority which belonged to him; wherefore he begged of them as a friend to receive him as their lord since they had no other; but he declared with an oath, that if they did not do this willingly, and dared to contend against him, he would subdue them as enemies and hang them all on the gibbet or flay them alive. At length, after much disputing on both sides, they unanimously agreed to give hostages to the king of the French, for their keeping a truce for one year; after which time, if they did not receive assistance from the king of the English, they would thenceorward acknowledge him as their ruler, and give the cities and castles up to him; having effected this the French king returned to his own territories. . .

How Normandy with other transmarine possessions yielded to the rule of the French king.

About that time the French king’s army which for almost a year had been besieging the castle of the Rock of Andelys [i.e., Château Gaillard], had undermined and knocked down a great part of the walls. But the noble and warlike Roger, constable of Chester, still defended the entrance against the French; but at length his provisions failing him, and being reduced to such want, that no one had a single allowance of food, he preferred to die in battle to being starved: on which he and his soldiers armed themselves, flew to horse, and sallied from the castle: but after they had slain numbers opposed to them, they were at length taken prisoners, although with much difficulty. Thus the castle of the Rock of Andelys fell into the hands of the French king on the 6th of March [1204], and Roger de Lacy with all his followers were taken to France, where, on account of the bravery which he had shown in defence of his castle, he was detained prisoner on parole. On this all the holders of castles in the transmarine territories, with the citizens and other subjects of the king of England, sent messengers to England to tell him in what a precarious situation they were placed, and that the time, according to the terms of the treaty, was near, when they must either give up the cities and castles to the king of the French, or consign to destruction the hostages which they had given him. To which message king John answered; and intimated by the same messengers to all of them, that they were to expect no assistance from him, but that they each were to do what seemed best to him. And thus, all kind of defence failing in those provinces, the whole of Normandy, Tours, Anjou, and Poictou, with the cities, castles, and other possessions, except the castles of Rochelle, Thouars, and Niorz, fell to the dominion of the king of the French. When this was told to the English king, he was enjoying all the pleasures of life with his queen, in whose company he believed that he possessed everything he wanted; moreover, he felt confidence in the immensity of the wealth he had collected, as if by that he could regain the territory he had lost.

Source: Roger of Wendover’s Flowers of History, Comprising the History of England from the Descent of the Saxons to A.D. 1235, trans. J. A. Giles, 2 vols. (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1849), vol. II, pp. 206-209, 213-14, available online at
http://books.google.com/books?printsec=frontcover&pg=PA333&id=hjVVdz57dR0C#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 22 August 2011].

2. Letter from G. de Neville, chamberlain to the justiciar Hubert de Burgh, to Ralph de Neville, Bishop of Chichester, undated (October 1222 x March 1226). The “Lord Richard” (1209-72) was the brother of Henry III; in 1227 he was made Earl of Cornwall. The Earl of “Sarum” (i.e., Salisbury) was William “Longspee” (Longsword), 3rd Earl of Salisbury (d. 7 March 1226), illegitimate son of Henry II and uncle of Henry III:
To the venerable Father in Christ and Reverend Lord, and if it so please, kinsman, Ralph, by the grace of God Bishop of Chichester, his own in all things, G. de Nevill, chamberlain, eternal greeting in the Lord. — I beseech your paternity earnestly, that for the sake of yourself, and at my entreaties, you will deign so kindly to listen to the entreaties which the Lord Richard, brother of the Lord King, and the Lord Earl of Sarum, pour forth to you, on behalf of him, who has carried himself so faithfully in the service of the Lord King, and of the lord his brother in Gascony, that it may result to your honour and advantage. Farewell in Christ.”

Source: Taken verbatim from W. H. Blaauw, “Letters to Ralph de Neville, Bishop of Chichester (1222-24) [sic], and Chancellor to King Henry III,” Sussex Archaeological Collections, 3 (1850), p. 73, no. 308 (now TNA, SC 1/6/71).

Example of how to translate a medieval English letter into modern English: