Providing the chronological setting for many of Shakespeare’s plays, various swashbuckling novels from Sir Walter Scott’s to Robert Louis Stevenson’s, and such Hollywood films as Braveheart, late Medieval England is superficially well known. Yet its true complexity remains elusive, locked in the covers of specialized monographs and journal articles. In over 300 entries written by 80 scholars, this book makes the factual information and historical interpretations of the era readily available. Covering political, military, religious, and constitutional subjects as well as social and economic topics, the volume is easy to use, comprehensive, and authoritative. It provides a useful resource for undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and educated laymen.
Rightly characterized as an age of crisis, the 14th century saw the Hundred Years War, the Black Death, the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, the Avignon Papacy, and the Great Schism of the Western Church. All placed great stresses on English society, aggravating old problems and creating new ones. In the late Middle Ages, parliament became an important element in English government; Cambridge and Oxford universities attained European-wide reputations; and general literacy increased. The Church remained a paramount religious, political, and social institution, but its independence and intellectual monopoly slipped. The entries in this book synthesize recent scholarship on these and other historical events. While emphasizing political, religious, constitutional and military topics, the book also provides brief introductions to social, economic, cultural, and intellectual topics. It is a valuable guide for those wishing to understand this complex, tumultuous, and until recently, poorly understood era.