Published1993 by Boydell and Brewer
“Those who have long awaited the publication of these volumes need be in no doubt that they surpass all expectation … it will remain one of the handful of essential reference materials for political and social historians of late medieval England … It is hard to imagine that future historians will ever manage to improve more than very marginally on the labours of Linda Clark, Carole Rawcliffe and their colleagues.”
Professor Barry Dobson, in London Review of Books
“A major accomplishment in the annals of late medieval English scholarship”
“a milestone in publishing history … the basis for a major reassessment of the parliamentary history of the period”
Professor Nigel Saul, in History Today
These volumes deal with the earliest period covered by the History of Parliament so far. They contain the biographies of 3,175 individuals who sat in the House of Commons in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, providing not only a picture of political affiliations, aim and motives in seeking Membership, but also a study of other preoccupations, typical of men of the period: the contrast between the accepted code of chivalrous conduct and the reality of military service in the wars in France, Scotland and Ireland; the competitive pursuit of wealthy heiresses; the use and abuse of the legal system to further the acquisition of property; the sometimes ambivalent relations between the laity and the Church; and their fluctuating success and failures in the scramble for patronage and preferment from the Crown and baronetage alike.
Among those included are the poet Geoffrey Chaucer; the pirates William Long and John Hawley; Lollards, including Sir John Oldcastle, who met a traitor's death; henchmen of the king (most notably the infamous Bussy, Bagot and Green) and the most outstanding parliamentarians of the Middle Ages, among them Sir John Tiptoft, perhaps the youngest Speaker ever to be elected, and the intrepid Sir Arnold Savage, whose verbal exchanges with Henry IV throw fresh light on the relationship between King and Commons in the 15th century.
Surveys of each of the 135 constituencies represented in Parliament in this period supply a detailed explanation of local politics, and an analysis of Membership chosen. The Introductory Survey in Volume I, the culmination of a lifetime's dedication to the subject by the distinguished historian J. S. Roskell, provides the most thorough examination yet undertaken of the work of the medieval House of Commons and the place it occupied on the governance of the realm.