This book contains essays written over the past 25 years about medieval urban communities and about the loyalties and beliefs of medieval lay people in general. Most writing about medieval religious, political, legal, and social ideas starts from treatises written by academics and assumes that ideas trickled down from the clergy to the laity. Susan Reynolds, whether writing about the struggles for liberty of small English towns, the national solidarities of the Anglo-Saxons, or the capacity of medieval peasants to formulate their own attitudes to religion, rejects this assumption. She suggests that the medieval laity had ideas of their own that deserve to be taken seriously.
Table of Contents
Contents: Social mentalities and the case of medieval scepticism; Medieval origines gentium and the community of the realm; What do we mean by ’Anglo-Saxon’ and ’Anglo-Saxons’?; Eadric Silvaticus and the English resistance; Magna Carta 1297 and the legal use of literacy; The history of the idea of incorporation or legal personality: a case of fallacious teleology; English towns of the 11th century in a European context; Towns in Domesday Book; The rulers of London in the 12th century; The farm and taxation of London, 1154-1216; Decline and decay in late medieval towns: a look at some of the concepts and arguments; The forged charters of Barnstaple; 1483: Gloucester and town government in the middle ages; Medieval urban history and the history of political thought; The writing of medieval urban history in England; Space and time in English medieval towns; Index.