18.06.16, Clark and Danbury, eds., "A Verray Parfit Praktisour"

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Cindy Wood

The Medieval Review 18.06.16

Clark, Linda and Elizabeth Danbury, eds. "A Verray Parfit Praktisour": Essays presented to Carole Rawcliffe . Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2017. pp. xxvii, 205. ISBN: 978-1-78327-180-1 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Cindy Wood
University of Winchester

Festschrifts, as a matter of course, celebrate academics who are closer to the end of their career than the beginning. In the case of Carole Rawcliffe this seems a shame as her academic output seems to have increased over time rather than diminished, and her energy and focus on the late medieval period is to be applauded. Thus this offering of essays in her honour reflects a distinguished and varied career.

Carole has over her career had many areas of interest (and continues to do so). This includes local history, centred on the East Anglian and especially Norwich areas, as well as all aspects of medicine and hospitals in this period. This focus on her research into the treatment, identification and material culture of medicine is what, I suspect, most people would be more familiar with. Her work on leprosy and medieval hospitals over her career has been groundbreaking.

We then turn to this festschrift. For an historian with such varied interests creating such a volume with any sense of theme or continuity will always be a challenge. As such Linda Clark and Elizabeth Danbury have collected together a series of essays that reflect Carole's interests, rather than a group of essays in areas that might be more familiar to scholars using Carole's previous works.

The scholars contributing to this book are a mixture of Carole's students and colleagues and reflect how she has influenced and encouraged wider research over thirty years. As they are such a varied and diverse collection of essays each chapter will be discussed individually.

Chapter One, by Brian Ayers, is a detailed survey of a small area of Norwich city (Coslania), in Norfolk. This may surprise some readers who may not be aware of Carole's interest in material culture. This is an archeologically written survey illustrated with maps of the city in the late medieval period. It may require some concentration, especially for those unfamiliar with the city, and some extra correlation of text to maps might have helped in these circumstances. This, of all the essays, appears most obscure in this volume but when considering Carole's bibliography (compiled by Hannes Kleineke) its inclusion can be justified.

Chapter Two, by Nicholas Vincent, brings to life the later career of Isabella, Countess of Gloucester (1173-1217), the first queen of King John (1166-1216) whose marriage was annulled when John ascended the throne in 1199. This essay considers both the nature of London and its affiliations during the problems of King John in his reign when rebels held the capital and the life of Isabella herself. Isabella is brought out of the historical shadows through this essay and her relative importance as both wife and Countess of Gloucester to John is examined. This is an interesting view of a woman little regarded in history and while the appendices include some interesting charters and cartularies etc., it is a shame that there is no English translation of these Latin texts for early-career scholars and students.

Chapter Three is another East Anglian study, this time by John Alban who has analysed the muster rolls for the conflicts of fourteenth-century England. While there might be considerable interest in the local aspects of this paper, the analysis of the relationship between property qualifications and arms required, the hierarchy of defensive officials, and the Case study of Conesford, are very valuable research. Hopefully scholars of this area will be able to easily access this essay in the future, as it is a very valuable analysis.

In Chapter Four, Hannes Kleineke provides a study of a medieval apothecary, Lettice Oo, and her relationship with the royal court as both wife and independent trader. This relationship was with the two queens of Richard II, Anne of Bohemia (1366-1394) and Isabella of France (1389-1409). Kleineke's case study highlights several important themes prevalent in Carole's own work, namely medicine, its importance and understanding in this period, as well as the ability of women to work as apothecaries, both as partners to their husbands and as independent sole traders, often when widowed.

This medieval theme is continued in the following chapter (Five) with an illuminating essay by Christopher Bonfield on the level of understanding of diet and health in the medieval period. The importance of Galenic ideas is considered particularly in relation to the lower sections of society. This essay makes the clear point that there was an understanding of the need for a good diet and health regime in the late medieval period beyond the ideas of Galen, which appear to be more prevalent in the more elite sections of society at this time. The discussion moves on to the more "popular" treatises, especially after the Black Death (1348/9) and then from 1479 when the printing press in England enabled more people to access these ideas. This is an excellent and wide-ranging essay that provides much food for thought (my apologies) and illuminates Carole's work in this area.

Carole Hill, in Chapter Six, moves back to a local consideration by discussing piety and networks in late medieval Norwich. This essay covers the pious bequests of many of the urban elites in the city, especially seen in commemorative brasses. The role of widows in this context has been drawn out-- especially those who married multiple times--and the question of which husband to commemorate, to what degree and how this commemoration needed consideration. This essay contains gems of how wives would clearly remember earlier husbands when contemplating their own death and can be seen as a statement on the affection between spouses in this period of often arranged marriages. This is an excellent insight into how these relationships could develop. This locally inspired essay is a good addition to the corpus of work on piety and commemoration in the post-Black Death period.

In Chapter Seven, Caroline Barron considers the lack of a secular clock in the City of London, especially after the rebuilding of the Guildhall in the fifteenth century. The evidence suggests that there was a clock inside St Paul's Cathedral, used for records but seen in a liturgical context. Using City documents Barron has deduced the emergence of "clock time" in the fourteenth century when meetings were set at regular times, and this required a clock for consistency. Her research has shown the existence of a clock used from 1350 located in the belfry of the church of St Pancras in Soper Lane. It is this clock that provided the necessary continuity of time across the city for the first time, and negated the need for a belfry at the Guildhall in the following century. This interesting concept of the introduction of "clock time" over liturgical hours has been clearly demonstrated in this fascinating essay.

In Chapter Nine Jean Agnew discusses the last of the Norfolk Paston family, William Paston, 2nd Earl of Yarmouth, through the records of his bankruptcy in the early eighteenth century. This is a biographical essay of the life of the last Paston, through his marriages, firstly to Charlotte Howard, an illegitimate daughter of Charles II, and later Elizabeth Wiseman, and their slide into penury thought the reigns of Charles II, James II and William and Mary. While outside of Carole's known field of the late medieval period this provides an interesting codicil to the medieval Pastons, and their peripheral involvement in contemporary events across many centuries.

Before I discuss the last chapter in this book, a note on the bibliography is needed. This comprehensive list of Carole's academic work is a testament to her energy, scholarship and especially demonstrates her work in the fields of medieval hospitals and medicine.

So, the final essay as Chapter Ten offers an examination into the themes of medieval hospitals and their treatment of their inmates in the context of a glimpse of musical therapy being offered in both modern and medieval Turkey/the Ottoman Empire. Here the modern offering by senior medical staff of music to help the recovery of their patients is contrasted and compared to a similar device used in the fifteenth century. Peregine Horden has created a suitably significant footnote to this collection in considering the rare evidence of this musical therapy in an international context, a feature, he assures the reader, that would be a delight to Carole Rawcliffe. He offers the essay as a testament to Carole's work in the field of hospitals and especially the links between this glimpse of international music therapy and the music offered by St Giles Hospital, Norwich in the medieval period.

This is an eclectic collection that at first glance might appear rather unusual but in reality offers a glimpse into the interest and personal relationships enjoyed by Carole Rawcliffe across her academic career. My hope is that scholars in these various fields use these essays in the future.

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