While I was in a London for a few days in July 2015 I visited the Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy exhibition at the British Library, which was put on to mark the 800th anniversary of the original issue of the charter. The items displayed in the exhibition were mostly written documents (as you might expect in a library) although there were also some other things, including paintings and examples of seals.
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
It's the 800th anniversary of the first issuing of Magna Carta this year, and so there are currently a flurry of programmes about the document on the BBC on both radio and TV. We been listening to the Melvyn Bragg presented radio series that was on at the beginning of the year as our Sunday breakfast listening. This was a four part series that covered the context for the document, the thing itself, and its legacy.
Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty was a Channel 5 series about the Plantagenets, presented by Dan Jones. I've been vaguely aware of Jones as an author for a while and I've heard good things about him, but not read any of his books. So despite my dubiousness about a Channel 5 documentary series I took a chance on recording it - it did turn out to be a pretty fun watch, even if nothing earth shatteringly new. It was part Jones walking around significant sites, and part re-enactment.
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).