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Ian Stone, historian | The Middle Ages
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The Middle Ages Tag

David Carpenter, Henry III (Yale University Press, 2020)

For over thirty years, as part of its ‘English Monarchs Series’ exploring the history of the ‘longest permanent governing institution in Europe’, Yale University Press has published biographies of English kings and queens. These books are rightly considered to offer not only the best and fullest biographies of the men and women who have occupied the throne of England, but also a window through which...

King Henry II and Thomas Becket: the beginnings of a reconciliation?

On this day 850 years ago, Pope Alexander III (1159-81), by now weary and exasperated with both King Henry II of England (1154-89) and Thomas Becket, Henry’s archbishop of Canterbury, issued letters which set out terms for a ‘form of peace’ between the two men. Becket had been in exile since 2 November 1164 following his clashes with Henry over the rights and liberties of...

The Restoration of Canterbury Cathedral

‘While Thomas lives you will have neither peace nor quiet nor see good days’. We know not who supposedly uttered these words to King Henry II (1154-89) about his troublesome archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket (d. 1170), but whoever it was, they had arguably more perspicacity than the two protagonists themselves. Henry was one of England’s greatest monarchs. He was a man filled with seemingly...

10 February 1258 – King Henry III’s Short-lived Victory

In my previous blog, we saw King Henry III attempt to purge the opposition to his rule in London in 1258. He did this by sending royal officers to the city to enquire into the assessment of a tallage in 1255. These officers were initially frustrated as the leading men of London stood on custom and refused to cooperate with the inquiry. However, the royal officers...

The Yeomen Curriers of Fleet Street

In this blog I discuss a document which was drawn up by some curriers in London in 1388-9. Curriers work with leather. They clean, scrape and stretch tanned leather to make it waterproof, strong and flexible. As part of this process they use oil, wax and a special knife, called a shave. The skill is ancient and curriers first appear as a trade organisation in...

The Five Skuldelev Ships at the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde was built in 1969 to house the five so-called 'Skuldelev' ships. In the late eleventh century, these ships were sunk in a channel at Skuldelev to block access to Roskilde in Denmark. Why the ships were sunk is unknown; perhaps to block attacks from the sea, perhaps to control and facilitate the collection of customs. Local fishermen had long known...