In the final chapter of this book Prestwich draws together the ideas and themes he explored in the rest of the book and discusses what it meant to be English during this period (1225-1360). On the one hand England was a pretty cosmopolitan society - there were many leading figures in the government who weren't English born, and migrants with useful skills were encouraged (Flemish weavers during Edward III's reign, for instance). On the other hand there was a strong sense of an English identity. Foreigners apparently had a simple stereotype: Englishmen had tails and were usually drunk!
I'm into the home straight with this book - and actually finished reading it a while ago, I've just got a backlog of posts to write :) This is the penultimate chapter, all that's left after this is the conclusion.
Crime and Punishment
Trade and Merchants
Having discussed the two categories of people who owned the bulk of the land in the last two chapters Prestwich now moves on to discussing landownership itself (and the law surrounding it) and land management. He does this in two separate chapters, but I'll cover them both in the same post (in part because it's been a while since I read them).
I'm about 3 chapters behind in writing up what I've read of this book - this summer has been rather busy! After the great lords Prestwich moves a step down the social scale to consider the lesser aristocracy.
The last section of the book I'm reading about Plantagenet England is about the society and people of the era. Prestwich starts the first chapter in this section by noting that whilst society was very stratified in this period the boundaries weren't rigid and well defined (or least not in ways that historians can be sure of now). However, you can divide the society at this time into four rough groups - the great lords (both lay & church), the knights, the peasants and the merchants. This chapter deals with the first of those groups.
In terms of page count I'm about three fifths of the way through Michael Prestwich's "Plantagenet England 1225-1360" and in terms of subject matter I've just finished one of the two sections that the book is divided into. So this seemed a good place to take a small pause and think about what I've spent the last several months reading.