My present re-read

March 24, 2007

David Carpenter, The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284.

As I think I wrote once in my earlier attempt to get this thing going, I started looking into medieval history again – England first, then France and Germany – after reading Woolrych’s Britain in Revolution, about the Civil War and Commonwealth. The idea being to track down just how/when Parliament got to have both the power and the self-confidence to actually try to take over the government of the country – in Britain and practically nowhere else. Which got me into all sorts of questions like what “feudalism” really was and how it developed.  back to the immediate post-Conquest generations, I found Carpenter a useful narrative of the immediate post-Conquest generations when I first read it, working my way back through the Late Middle Ages (with Maurice Keen as a guide); and now having found it in a second-hand paperback I am going through it again more slowly and carefully.

What did it mean to be a King, a noble, a royal official? How did government work? What was the relationship between political power and land-ownership? And what were the differences between countries, and between Western Europe and other parts of the world?

What role did the Church play?

All great stuff. I’m up to Henry II now, the murder of Becket, the situation with Malcolm IV in the north; soon we conquer Ireland.

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