16.05.03, Dalton and Luscombe eds., Rulership and Rebellion in the Anglo-Norman World

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Heather Tanner

The Medieval Review 16.05.03

Dalton, Paul, and David Luscombe, eds. Rulership and Rebellion in the Anglo-Norman World, c. 1066-c. 1216: Essays in Honour of Professor Edmund King. Burlington: Ashgate, 2015. pp. 304. ISBN: 978-1-4724-1373-4 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Heather Tanner
The Ohio State University

Rulership and Rebellion in the Anglo-Norman World is a Festschrift in honor of the distinguished Anglo-Normanist Edmund King. The collection of twelve essays focuses on the mechanisms of rule and the management and consequences of rebellion. The editors' goal was to focus on overlooked aspects of these topics which were central concerns of the Anglo-Norman and Angevin kings and nobility. The collection ranges chronologically from the Norman Conquest to Magna Carta, although about half focus on King Stephen's reign. The chapters explore administrative efficiency and operations; baronial behavior, beliefs, and ambitions; the manipulations of noble men and women of the legal and administrative practices; and the influence of theological and philosophical thinking on political, legal, and governmental developments. Although some of the chapters are stronger than others, the volume succeeds in nuancing our understanding of how the Anglo-Norman and Angevin kings and nobles negotiated their competing and complementary goals as rulers and subjects.

Paul Dalton's analysis of William the Conqueror's use of diplomacy and peace-making to acquire and hold the English kingdom is carefully argued and enlightening. Dalton argues diplomacy was a important element of William's success in the conquest of England. He shows that "peace discussions were common, that English surrenders were far from unconditional and that the terms involved obligations on both sides" (22). Dalton demonstrates that William offered the Anglo-Saxon nobles, royal family, and towns good lordship in return for peaceful submission. This good lordship included: confirmation of dignities, lands and inheritances of English nobles; confirmation of urban privileges; ecclesiastical patronage; offers of favorable marriages and offices; and wider promises to maintain peace and justice. Thus, William's success in pacifying England was a combination of military and diplomatic skill.

David Roffe reinvestigates disputes (querela) and lawsuits in Domesday Book. He argues that the great inquest wasn't to resolve these disputes but rather a response to the need for more taxes and military service in the face of the threatened Danish invasion. In order to gain the consent for the new imposts, a demand was created to air disputed tenure (if not to determine it). "The result was the special procedure introduced to record disputes which left the commissioners free to carry out the main business of the inquest" (59-60). Domesday Book provided the model for the later twelfth and thirteenth century inquiries which all were primarily concerned with royal income; querela are common to all and the inquest was a mechanism of negotiation before the advent of parliaments.

Kenji Yoshitake also focuses on the operations of the central government, arguing that Westminster began superseding Winchester as the center of governance under William the Conqueror and that the Londoners' support of Stephen reinforced this shift even before the outbreak of civil war. While Yoshitake does establish the growing importance of Westminster under the first three Anglo-Norman kings, the evidence is such that his thesis is suggestive rather than convincing.

The civil war during Stephen's reign (1139-1153) provides the context for the next chapters which offer a reassessment of baronial ambitions and activities. Judith Green re-evaluates the career of Geoffrey II de Mandeville through his charters (a calendar of which is provided) and strengthens the view that he was not the quintessential anarchic baron, but rather a rather too successful navigator of political turbulence. Graeme White, similarly, sustains a revisionist view of Ranulf II earl of Chester. White elucidates Ranulf's administrative innovations which made Chester the governing center of the honor (continuing into the 19th century), as well as the earl's ambition to control important trading centers and key sections of the routes connecting the northern and southern regions. Kathleen Thompson's analysis of Robert of Gloucester's diffidatio advances an thoughtful contextualization of his action. She argues that Routrou count of Mortagne's use of the term diffidatio in the first decade of the twelfth century was an innovative and clever legal defense in his struggle with Hugh de Puisset. It was also one that he most likely shared with Robert in 1138 who sought to justify his renunciation of allegiance to Stephen. Katherine Keats-Rohan convincingly demonstrates that Wallingford was a significant royal military center which was only entrusted to trustworthy constables. The constables of this castle had strong connections to Empress Matilda's household and her patronage allowed them entry into her son's court. David Luscombe's analysis of John of Salisbury's critiques of the royal court in the Policraticus portrays the text as a vehicle to air genuine grievances of the arbitrary exercise of power by barons and kings and their other vices, and thus, served to both instruct and amuse those who wielded power and sought advancement at court.

While Henry II's court was criticized by contemporary clerics, scholars have been more laudatory of his reforms of government. Paul Latimer's study of the 1173-74 rebellion in England convincingly demonstrates that Henry II's reforms of administration prior to 1173 meant that the government was well placed to deal with rebellion. Despite Henry's prolonged absence from England to deal with the uprisings in his French territories, his administrative system in England and leading men continued to function smoothly. Money continued to flow into the Exchequer and writs from the centers of government; as such the justiciar Richard de Lucy, Robert de Stuteville sheriff of Yorkshire, and Ranulf de Glanville custodian of the Lancaster and Richmond honours could efficiently and effectively communicate and had the funds to conduct the military campaigns which quelled the rebellion.

The final three essays concern the reign of King John. In the wake of the 1204 loss of Normandy and the death of Robert IV de Breteuil, earl of Leicester, his sisters Amice countess of Montfort and Margaret, wife of Saher de Quincy ably and inventively maneuvered in the French and English royal courts to secure their inheritance. David Crouch's analysis provides an entertaining and carefully contextualized analysis of the fascinating document which resolved the dispute (the Latin and its translation is included as an appendix to the article) and convincingly demonstrates the creative and ambitious means used by Amice, Margaret, and their mother Petronilla to achieve their goals. Daniel Power's essay tackles how the loss of Normandy affected the nature and balance of royal and noble power in Northamtonshire. Royal confiscations allowed some of the local nobility to secure disputed territory from their neighbors who remained in France. Flemings and Bretons had greater success than Norman families in gaining royal favor. Although John's seizure of "lands of the Normans" was not particularly great in Northamptonshire, its political, seigneurial, and tenurial impacts endured into the fourteenth century.

The final chapter, by Nicholas Vincent, inventively tackles the question--why twenty-five barons to enforce the provisions of the Magna Carta? Vincent neatly rebuts the interpretation that the number reflected the London practice of twenty-five counselors who governed the city. Vincent argues that there may have been some influence of the use of twelve or twenty-four jurors in English law or biblical inspiration of the same numbers in standard medieval numerological treatises. He persuasively suggests that it may also have been influenced by St. Augustine's homily on John 25.6. In this homily Augustine defined twenty-five as "the number of the law" and derived its meaning not on the duodecimal but upon the square of the number five, the number of books of the law. Augustine's homily was widely disseminated in Lent 1215 and thus, encourages scholars to see governmental and legal developments within a wider intellectual horizon than the schools of English and Roman law.

Rulership and Rebellion is recommended for scholars of Anglo-Norman and Angevin history. The very focused topics of the chapters illuminate aspects of administration and rule and nuance our understanding of the Anglo-World of the eleventh to early thirteenth centuries.

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