It’s been an interesting 36 hours, for a number of reasons, some spectacularly good, others of a more hum-drum nature. I changed my return date to the states, as the pound sterling was getting the better of me, and I didn’t wish to come back to utter poverty. And to change the dates cost me only the standard fee and a service fee, which totaled less than a quarter of what I would have spent had I been staying for those extra three weeks. That’s what I call a win. And for the record, British Airways has THE nicest customer service folks around…
That makes the next three weeks more of a premium than I thought they would be, but nothing’s lost. In fact, many things are gained. I’m going through the C76 rolls, and closing gaps in my exchequer documents. I owe the Richard III Society a huge vote of thanks for their assistance; this is going to be an immensely better dissertation now.
At the moment, however, I’m trying to work through Additional MS 7967 at the British Library, and I’m seeing my clear to chapter 1 more and more. Chapter 1 has a weird history, as when I started I didn’t realize I’d be covering Edward II’s reign, and therefore I didn’t have many documents pertaining. So I’ve left chapter 1 for later. That’s changing now, and things are becoming very interesting indeed. Military activity under Edward II is badly underrated, partly because we know how his reign ended, and partly because we think “Bannockburn” and shrug. Actually, there were many campaigns against the Scots after Bannockburn, and a couple Gascon campaigns. This manuscript covers the 1324-5 Gascon campaign, under the earl of Kent, and there are a number of fascinating bits I’m gleaning from the text. Robert Ufford shows up, but none of the other E. Anglian barons do, which is interesting. Also, looking at the arrayed/conscripted troops, there are a number of interesting features; archers are all on foot, and preserve their county designations until they reach Portsmouth, at which point the different county levies are mixed and matched into new units under new commanders. The foot, on the other hand, is treated much more organically, and tends to fight by county. Their numbers steadily decrease as time goes on, and I’m not sure how much of this is due to campaign losses, or whether this has to do with men being returned to England in batches–the last entry for a given unit often has just the commander heading home.
Long and the short of it, I’m thinking that my formula of Boroughbridge 1322–Mortimer’s coup, 1326 is working well, in tracing the transformation of attitudes/military experience in the English polity. Now add Gascony, 1324-5, and the picture grows richer.
In other news…I thought a link to the Warwick Castle website would be cool. It looks like a three-ring circus, yes, but underneath all that is some really solid historical presentation.
Prominent medievalist and friend Craig Taylor posted this story from The New Yorker today, on atrocities in Afghanistan, and it’s certainly giving me something to ponder. The author of the article doesn’t mention the German Army on the Eastern Front, but the parallels, especially with the personal photography, are very strong in my opinion. Minus the Nazism, of course. Which I think makes the parallels that more interesting, and should prompt questions concerning the origins of atrocities and war crimes. For the record, I’ve always had some reservations about unblinkingly accepting Omer Bartov’s “ideological determinism” (my phrase…I think…). Anyway, worth reading.
Well, that’s about it. I’m off to Normandy for the weekend, mostly for World War II stuff, but I’m going to badger my friend to let us see the Bayeux Tapestry…and some other medieval stuff, like St-Etienne in Caen. But Brecourt Manor looms large on our horizon. Great stuff…