To what extent did Richard II's reign lay the foundation for the bloody Wars of the Roses and what was the social impact of the Black Death? Ian Bremner investigates.
By Ian Bremner
Last updated 2011-02-17
To what extent did Richard II's reign lay the foundation for the bloody Wars of the Roses and what was the social impact of the Black Death? Ian Bremner investigates.
The reign of Richard II illustrates the changing nature of the crown and society after the Black Death wiped out almost half the population from 1348. Richard's downfall has also been called the first round in what the Victorians named the 'Wars of the Roses,' the bloody, noble civil wars that devastated England from around 1450 to 1487. But the legacy of his rule laid the foundation for that conflict and together with the impact of the plague achieved a social transformation that changed Britain forever.
Richard's rule can be viewed as a critical moment in Britain's history. It provides the first opportunity to assess the impact of the Black Death on all levels of the nations; as society realigns itself, the young king struggles to restore the prestige and authority of the crown. Key issues of the day colour Richard's reign: the ongoing war with France, the power of the nobles, religious change, extending royal authority into the regions and the continuing conflict in Ireland and with Scotland.
The Peasants' Revolt... was a judgement on those who were governing the country in Richard's name.
There is significant cultural and linguistic advance, new social groups such as the 'gentry' are emerging and by 1500, leave us with a pubescent modern nation state, firmly in possession of defensible borders and one 'common' language. The Peasants' Revolt, the first major 'headline' result of the series of plagues that swept across Europe, was a judgement on those who were governing the country in Richard's name. However, the king's reaction to the revolt was perhaps the highpoint of his personal activity. But it is the rapid fall of Richard II, from his position as a secure, wealthy and respected monarch that sheds the most light on the reality of medieval power.
Richard ruled as a mature monarch for little more than a decade from 1389, after inheriting the throne from his grandfather in 1377, at the age of 10. He spent his final days alone and died, either from starvation, or by murder on the orders of Henry IV.
The son of England's greatest warrior lord, the Black Prince, and a renowned European beauty, Joan of Kent, Richard was born in Bordeaux, 1367. His christening was attended by three kings. Educated in a European style for the first four years of his life, Richard would bring a new sense of class and civility to the English throne. He probably spoke French first and foremost but also learnt English, the language that was rapidly becoming the main tongue of the English nobility.
Richard is the first king that we know for sure what he looked like, in part because of his own conscious attempts to raise the personal place of the monarch, through the active use of imagery and artistic representation, the most notable example being the Wilton Diptych, a portable altarpiece and Richard's own portrait, which now hangs in Westminster Abbey. Richard constructed the first royal bathhouse, may well have invented the pocket handkerchief and used a spoon for the first time. In his patronage of architecture and personal piety, his reign has a powerful legacy in some of the key parts of Westminster Great Hall, York Minster and Canterbury Cathedral. Richard built the magnificent hammer beam roof for the hall, which can be seen to this day. The medieval parliament and king's court often sat under its carved angels and it was from here that the kingdom was ruled.
The greatest cultural legacy of the period is the work of Chaucer, a contemporary of Richard and personally known to him but, perhaps surprisingly, not someone who benefited from the king's generous financial patronage. Chaucer's work and use of the English language are legacies of Richard's reign despite the king, not because of his actions; however 'cultured' his court became Richard neglected some of the major trends of his age.
Richard never learnt that the myth of the prince who rules by divine right and is answerable only to God, is one thing; the reality of power is quite another. Personally tall and imposing, Richard is the first king to recruit a full time bodyguard of loyal Cheshire bowmen, often deployed to intimidate his foes. Professor Nigel Saul has argued that Richard personally abhorred Christians killing one another and this may explain his determination to make peace with France. However, it did not stop him personally leading armies into Scotland and Ireland. Richard's foreign policy went against all contemporary tradition and proved highly unpopular. The so-called 'Hundred Years War' (1337 - 1453) started in the reign of his grandfather Edward III and had provided Richard's father with stunning victories. Many in England gained financially from the ongoing conflict and few would agree to see the territorial gains handed back to the French. Despite this, Richard sought peace with France, whilst becoming involved in Irish affairs to no long-term gain for the monarchy, but at the eventual cost of his own throne.
Any slight had to be avenged whilst the king's person sought constant praise...
Richard II appears to have been self-obsessed and aware only of his own needs and feelings. Any slight had to be avenged whilst the king's person sought constant praise, respect and even worship. Impressed by imagery and symbols, Richard adopted the sign of the white hart, financed lavish memorials for loyal supporters and designed for himself a tomb in Westminster Abbey that few could fail to be impressed by. As with so much about Richard, the reality of his leadership failed to rise to the majesty of its appearance.
Richard II inherited the throne of a great military power with titles to England, France, Ireland and Wales. England, the heart of the kingdom, had a population of two to three million and the crown enjoyed a healthy income from its estates and customs revenues on wool exports (£70,000 pa.) Royal authority extended to all areas of the kingdom via sheriffs and the loyal nobility. English armies, proven by their victories at Crecy and Poitiers, were well respected, managed, led and equipped. The Hundred Years War continued to drain the economy but provided its own rewards to the nobility and gave England a continental presence in defence of her own interests.
The conflicts with England's neighbours dragged on, draining the economy.
On the death of the now senile Edward III in 1377, the ten year-old Richard II inherited a throne that ruled with parliament and in front of which he had to swear to uphold the laws of the people. For a prince who sought to raise the monarchy above human restraints it was an inauspicious start. Parliament selected a regency council that excluded the king's uncle and leading lord, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. With interests split between Gaunt, parliament and the council, government became disorganised.
The conflicts with England's neighbours dragged on, draining the economy. Maintaining the basic border forts in France, Scotland and Ireland cost £46,000 pa and by 1381 three regressive poll taxes had been passed by parliament and extracted from an unwilling population, barely recovering from the ravages of the Black Death.
This rebellion, "the most significant in English History," occurred for a combination of reasons, virtually all of which were prompted by the Black Death. The plague that struck Britain from 1348 killed almost half the population. Those agricultural workers who survived now found their wages rising (by 200-300 per cent) as demand for their services by competing landlords increased. However, the landlords were reluctant to pay the higher wages or allow workers to move to rival estates. Hit by this, three poll taxes and legislation which stated that wages could not rise above pre-plague levels, the ambitious and assertive Yeomen, (but not the poorest), of Essex and Kent rebelled. The 'Poll Tax' of 1380 became particularly hated, as it took no account of individual wealth or earnings and demanded the same sum from all, rich or poor.
Richard had personally seen off the greatest popular threat to the medieval English monarchy...
Starting in Brentwood, Essex (May 1381) the mob rose against the tax collectors, joined with their colleagues in Kent and thousands of people sacked the City of London. The government lacked any significant military capability and so decided to follow a policy of conciliation with the King meeting the mob and their leader, Wat Tyler, first at Mile End and then Smithfield. The king heard and accepted Tyler's demands and then watched as his bodyguards slew the rebel leader, with or without provocation. Seeing him dead, Richard rode alone into the middle of the rebel host crying: "You shall have no captain but me. Just follow me to the fields without, and then you can have what you want." With that, the rebel hoard left central London and dispersed. Its leaders were subsequently tried and many hanged. Richard had personally seen off the greatest popular threat to the medieval English monarchy; it was an achievement that would not be matched for the remainder of his reign.
The Parliament that was then called to finance the clear up and sustain royal finances generally, now demanded reforms of its own. Reflecting demands that became their motto in the Wars of the Roses, the Commons insisted that the king "live of his own", followed "good government", better represented the different factions in the council and restored respect for the authority of the law. In this case, the nobility in parliament sided with the crown, against the Commons, splitting the political nation. By the end of this reign and throughout the fifteenth century, this situation became reversed as the 'undermighty' crown succeeded in alienating both halves of parliament.
Although only 14 in 1381, Richard II was a tall, handsome and rich king from a good family line. After a lot of wrangling with the great houses of Europe Richard married Anne of Bohemia, with whom he actually fell in love and remained loyal to, until her tragic and devastating death in 1394.
The naïve king, surrounded by sycophants, fell into the age old mistake of only rewarding favourites. To those without title, like his teacher Burley he gave offices and land in Kent. Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, had the title but no wealth and gained many profitable offices as his influence over the king increased. Men like these formed a very shaky foundation on which to build a dynasty. Unlike his father and grandfather, Richard was not at ease with many of the great men of the land, the chief of whom remained John of Gaunt, the king's uncle. Gaunt's enormous experience, great wealth and high ambition aroused the jealousy of Richard and his friends. Yet, throughout his life, he was unswervingly loyal to the King.
...Richard was not at ease with many of the great men of the land...
Throughout his life, Gaunt remained Richard's strong right arm, even though the two had little mutual affection. It is noteworthy that only during Gaunt's long absence in Europe, advancing his own claims to Castille, did Richard's regime fall for the first time.
Richard's reign is also notable for the significant impact of John Wyclif and his Lollard followers, who formed the first recognised critics of the established church since the fifth century. Born in Yorkshire in the 1330s, Wyclif was a theologian at Balliol College, Oxford and a 'realist' who believed that one's knowledge derived from within rather than through the senses. He rejected the human church, preferring one which comprised the body of the elect with all authority derived from the scriptures. He denied transubstantiation and believed in the spiritual Eucharist rather than the physical one. Wyclif wanted the church reformed, with its landed wealth and tax exemptions removed.
The Lollards who followed Wyclif, often called "mumblers" (probably reflecting their scriptural based worship) represented a general, but very limited, minority theological reform movement. The most important Lollards were a group of knights who formed part of the king's court. These included Sir William Neville, Sir John Montague and Sir William Beachamp who enjoyed sympathetic support and active protection from the Black Prince and Gaunt, at least from 1371 to 1382.
...Richard II is so self-absorbed that he fails to see that there are many currents and movements in society...
Wyclif's aim was for a reformation of the church but his movement failed for various reasons, amongst which were limited literacy levels and the lack of the printing press as a tool of dissemination. Wyclif was an important figure but the extent of his influence was limited, and the crucial contextual requirements that allowed the Reformation to occur were completely non-existent during Richard's reign. Furthermore, if the Lollards had become a greater threat, they would have faced the full assault of the united crown, church and law. After the Peasants' Revolt, when the association with any kind of opposition brought condemnation, the influence of Lollardy waned. Years later, Henry IV attacked their heresy more vociferously and the Lollards fell into isolation after the failure of the Oldcastle revolt in 1414.
Richard personally possessed a strong faith. Yet he did little to stamp out the Lollards and tolerated key adherents to their beliefs in his own court. Again, Richard II is so self-absorbed that he fails to see that there are many currents and movements in society which exist outside his own world. But his personal piety makes any chance of further tolerance on his part highly unlikely. In fact, by the mid-1380s, Richard had started an active campaign against heresy in the kingdom, attacking heretical works, arresting Lollards and supporting the church authorities. However, no new statutes were passed. Richard's personal faith blossomed in the 1390s and a number of artefacts survive from this time, such as the Wilton Diptych, many gifts to the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor at Westminster, and his investment in Westminster Abbey and York Minster.
Following attacks upon the king in the Salisbury parliament of 1384 over the peace policy favoured by the government and combined with the loss of Flanders to French influence, England was now forced on the defensive by the Auld alliance, between France and Scotland.
The French sent a force to aid the invading Scots and threatened England's southern shore with their fleet. Facing this crisis, the feudal levy was summoned for the last time in the Middle Ages and Richard led an invasion of Scotland at the head of a 14,000 man army, a quarter of whom were provided by Gaunt. The Scots, unable to match this force, retreated and refused to be drawn into battle, leaving Richard to burn the border abbeys and depart without gain. Parliament demanded further reforms and refused to pay off the government's debts while the French raised 30,000 men only to find that they too could not afford to actually invade England. Despite all this chaos on his doorstep, Richard II preferred to plan an invasion of Ireland.
...Richard led an invasion of Scotland at the head of a 14,000 man army...
Richard's government was making just about every mistake possible and now fell in the face of a parliamentary backlash. Parliament now made unprecedented demands on the monarchy, it won the sacking of Chancellor de la Pole and then impeached him for good measure.
In 1386-7, an alliance between the disaffected Commons and key lords in parliament ended up examining royal finances and putting the Duke of Gloucester in charge. Expenditure was cut and grants to favourites reduced. The king's authority had been fatally undermined as the narrow power base of his administration had nothing to fall back on. Facing humiliation on all sides Richard left London for one of his 'gyrations' around the kingdom. During this period he sought advice from leading judges that publicly defined the royal prerogative.
The judgements that Richard II received told him that no minister could be impeached without the crown's agreement and that it was treasonous to limit the royal power. They stated that only the king could choose ministers, that he called and dissolved parliament at his will and that he determined its business. In all, it formed a clear statement of the royal prerogative. So empowered, Richard now charged his opponents with treason. They therefore faced the choice of whether to submit (and face possible death) or to defend themselves. The King's most powerful opponents, the so-called Appellant Lords, now moved against him but claimed to be acting in the interests of the crown and good government.
The Appellants represented the traditional noble houses that Richard had always scorned. Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Edward III, brother of Gaunt and uncle to the king, led them. Despite his background, the duke actually had limited income and estates, and had a personal conflict with de Vere over neighbouring estates and authority in Essex. Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick led the strong family interest that had been the main power in the West Midlands for over a century. Richard II had succeeded in undermining their authority and encroaching on their estates. Richard Fitzalan, the 4th Earl of Arundel, was leader of another powerful family, second only to Gaunt in wealth. Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, led a great northern powerhouse and shared the personal rivalry with de Vere. Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby was the son of Gaunt; the same age as Richard II, the two would become bitter foes.
The ultimate humiliation came with the execution of four of Richard's favourite knights...
In late 1387 matters came to a head. De Vere raised the men of Cheshire in defence of the king and met the five lords in a battle that resulted in his defeat. The lords then marched on London, met the king in the Tower, possibly removed him from the throne for a few days and then tried his leading councillors. The ultimate humiliation came with the execution of four of Richard's favourite knights, including the beloved Burley. Richard and his queen had both begged for his life to be spared. For a man like Richard this kind of event, and the humiliation that accompanied it, would never be forgotten.
The Appellants now controlled the government and were faced with being judged by their own actions as rulers. They failed the test. In 1388 the Scots won a great victory at Otterburn, devastated large parts of the north and faced no reprisals. Attacks on France failed, financial reforms did little to improve government, the Commons became disillusioned and the king's popularity increased. The two peripheral Appellants, Nottingham and Derby, defected to the king on receipt of new offices which meant that in 1389 the king, now aged 22, could declare his own majority and will to rule of his own. The remaining appellants were removed from office as Gaunt returned to bolster the crown.
Richard II could finally put his own mark onto royal government and follow his own instincts towards peace, which had the secondary advantage of freeing the king from parliament's hold over financial provision. He could also develop his own idea of a more 'absolute' rule.
Using his 1390 Book of Statutes Richard now rebuilt his government, authority and image. He had learnt to create his own loyal retinue, to put trusted men in office and to end the war with France and thereby the crown's dependence on parliamentary grants of taxation to pay for the fighting. The question remained whether or not the substance could match the facade. Gaunt was carefully nurtured until 1394, when the king had gained the authority he needed.
No-one could look the king in the eye and all deferred to him in a public and effusive way.
He built up the power of a new courtier nobility such as John Holand, his half-brother and Earl of Huntingdon, the new chamberlain and rival to the Courtenay, Earls of Devon. This alienation of yet another powerful local family showed the king had not learnt all the lessons of his minority and would not be forgotten in 1399, when the king was challenged once again.
Richard's personal confidence was growing. At court, he insisted on being called Majesty. No-one could look the king in the eye and all deferred to him in a public and effusive way. The council often met daily, kept minutes and actually ran the government. However, these reforms failed to address all the financial problems and the king still spent more than he earnt, due largely to his extravagant personal expenditure. In 1397 he gained a taxation grant without there being the requirements for war, for the first time; a dangerous precedent for the king to rely upon. Peace at home led the government to look abroad and Richard's attention turned to reasserting the crown's authority in Ireland.
Richard II became the first king to visit Ireland since 1210 and the last to do so before the 1690s. His involvement in Irish affairs did little to increase English influence, and it also reflected Richard's failure to assess his own position of strength and determine the correct priorities of government. His interest derived from a natural wish to extend royal authority to all edges of his kingdoms, ruling via local fiefs.
On the death of his wife, Richard decided to visit Ireland in 1394. He found that the entrenched 'English' settlements in the north and east had declined further as the native Irish attacked estates run largely by absentee lords. Leading several thousand men and virtually all of the loyal nobility, Richard defeated the Irish chieftains in the Southeast. He also set about redefining the balance and nature of authority in Ireland, attempting to break down the old definitions of groups and alliances, replacing it with a broadly defined hegemony whose first loyalty was to the king personally. A 28 year truce with France in 1396, sealed with Richard's betrothal to a French princess left Richard free to look westwards again.
His interest derived from a natural wish to extend royal authority to all edges of his kingdoms...
In 1398 the Duke of Surrey replaced the Earl of March as Lieutenant of Ireland on Richard's orders, as the Earl's claims to the succession had become a source of increasing anxiety for the king. Richard made his second ill-fated trip to Ireland in June 1399, making some military advances before Bolingbroke landed in north England. Richard left Irish affairs in a state of flux and in no way enhanced the long term position of the English crown. Attempting to add more substance to his titles interested Richard II greatly. Only his timing left something to be desired.
The last two years of Richard's reign are traditionally described as a period of tyranny with the government levying forced loans, carrying out arbitrary arrests and murdering the king's rivals. Richard's regime went on the offensive exacting revenge for past humiliations and attempting to bring substance to the imagery now associated with the king's rule.
The cause of Richard's actions has often been considered a result of the death of his queen, who may have provided a restraining influence. But his tyranny reflected a reaction to a new environment: one of renewed fear. Always carrying resentment against the Appellants, the king now felt threatened again, seized the initiative and had the three senior Appellants, Gloucester, Arundel and Warwick, arrested. Evidence of a plot against the king is unclear but he had every reason to suspect one. Sparked by a long-running dispute between the earl of Warwick and the now loyal Nottingham and the need to fund the French alliance, the king called a loyal parliament. He raised 2000 men in Cheshire, caught the Appellants off guard and tried them in parliament. Warwick was sent to prison, the Duke of Gloucester was probably murdered by Nottingham's men in Calais and Arundel was executed.
Evidence of a plot against the king is unclear but he had every reason to suspect one.
The king had his revenge and now handed out a slew of titles and land making, amongst others, Nottingham the Duke of Norfolk and Derby the Duke of Hereford. Rarely if ever had so many high offices been created at one time. Cleverly, Richard went out of his way to split up the estates of the removed Appellants so as to avoid any one nobleman benefiting with too much power; he consciously set out to water down the great houses. In the process the traditional power bases were alienated and the political map of England redrawn.
However, Richard's methods, as usual, proved counter productive. Apart from alienating the otherwise loyal families in the regions who saw the 'new' men attempt to gain interest locally, a general fear entered the kingdom as the king alienated his subjects. For example, he did not go anywhere without his 311 man bodyguard of royal archers, and favour at court once again concentrated on a handful of loyalists that owed everything to the king. The final and fatal crisis of the reign derived from Richard's continuing inability to deal with the nobility. A conflict between the two leading noblemen of the younger generation and the legacies of the death of the most powerful duke in the kingdom led to Richard's fall just at a time when he had never seemed more secure in office. Again, decisions made directly and personally by the king drove events.
The picture gets very complicated at this stage as the chronicles only contain Hereford's side of the story. To summarise, he (Henry Bolingbroke, the new Duke of Hereford, former Earl of Derby and son of Gaunt) fell out with the new Duke of Norfolk (Thomas Mowbray the former Earl of Nottingham) over an accusation of a plot against the two of them by nobles seeking the king's favour. Bolingbroke then swore loyalty to the king in parliament and the king ruled that, unless the truth could be proven, the matter could only be settled on the field of battle between the two dukes. The stage was therefore set for the greatest occasion of chivalry in medieval England - a great joust between the two dukes at Gosford Green in Coventry. However, fearing either lord's victory, Richard II halted the contest before it started and exiled both dukes, Norfolk for life.
The stage was therefore set for the greatest occasion of chivalry in medieval England...
The crux of Richard's uncertainty and fear derived from the succession and the fact that the 30 year-old king had no heir and had just married a seven year old French princess! Two families possessed strong claims to succeed Richard II: the young Mortimer Earl of March through the senior female line and Lancaster/Hereford through the secondary but male line from John of Gaunt. Needless to say, Gaunt argued that succession to the crown should be entailed to the male line as was increasingly the case for inheriting noble estates. With estates worth £12,000 pa Gaunt was both a potential threat and source of massive patronage if his estates were broken up. In 1398, fearing for their position, Gaunt and his son made the king promise to uphold their inheritance if either died.
When Gaunt finally did die, early in 1399, Richard could not resist the temptation to remove a rival and potential heir, and promptly disinherited the exiled but popular Bolingbroke, breaching law and precedent. This was a fatal mistake that underlines the king's limited understanding of what even the 'most glorious' monarch can get away with.
On paper, Richard seemed in a very strong position in 1399. The £83,000 dowry from the French crown meant that the king possessed assets for the first time, with over £43,000 in his reserves. The reorganisation of the government around the king's court and the fact that his appointees dominated the nobility and provinces, left seemingly little room for weakness. The marriage treaty had secured peace with France, while the one power in the land who had posed a real threat to Richard's position was dead. Indeed, the king felt so secure that he went marching off to Ireland for the second time, taking his best and most loyal men with him. This expedition achieved little, partly because it was cut short by news that Bolingbroke had landed with a small force in Yorkshire.
Stranded in Ireland with no means of returning to Wales and then England, Richard had to watch while the greatest nobles of the land deserted him to join Bolingbroke. Motivated in part by fear for their own inheritances and general antipathy to Richard's rule, the west and east of England quickly fell to Bolingbroke. The king's last hope, the north west, failed to rally to the cause after the fall of Chester, again without a fight. Finally back in Britain, Richard II surrendered in Conway Castle after talks with the Earl of Northumberland, who promised that the king's position would be respected. With the exception of an abortive raid by the remainder of the royal bodyguard, the king passed into Bolingbroke's custody in the Tower, without any further resistance.
...Richard had to watch while the greatest nobles of the land deserted him...
Isolated, Richard now heard Bolingbroke's demand that he relinquish the throne and pass it to Bolingbroke by right of succession in the male line, following noble and European tradition. The king resigned under pressure on 29 September 1399, bringing his 22 year reign to an end. Taken to Pontefract castle, the failure of another loyalist plot reminded Henry of Lancaster how great a liability the live Richard II would be. By the end of February 1400, Richard of Bordeaux had starved to death. His passing receiving little contemporary comment or record.
Henry Bolingbroke proclaimed himself king and took the throne as Henry IV. Initially buried in Kings Langley, Henry V later placed Richard's body in the tomb that he had designed for himself in the Confessor's chapel of Westminster Abbey.
Replaced at the height of his power, Richard had been compromised by the narrowness of his own power base and his personal inability to live up to the image that he created for the crown. He failed because he misread the signs around him, and was unable to raise the monarchy as an institution with himself at its head. A good king ruled through and with the nobility, whose respect he had to win and maintain. The gleaming but fragile house of cards came tumbling down, and Richard II became the first of several ruling monarchs to be deposed, murdered, executed or killed in civil war during the fifteenth century. Just as the Black Death shook the foundations of society from below, so the fall of Richard II and subsequent Wars of the Roses would redefine it from above.
Nigel Saul concludes his 467 page magisterial biography by saying that Shakespeare actually caught the character of Richard very well, that he was able to: 'capture the essence of his subject... [Richard's] tragedy was that he mistook the illusion of the stage for the reality of the world around him.'
Richard II by Nigel Saul, Yale UP 1997 by author (publisher, date)
The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval England ed. Nigel Saul (Oxford UP, 1997)
The Age of Richard II ed. J.L. Gillespie (1997)
Crown and Nobility, England: 1272 - 1461 by A. Tuck, 2nd Edition (Blackwell 1999)
Richard II and the English Nobility by A. Tuck (1973)
The English Nobility in the Late Middle Ages by Chris Given-Wilson (1987)
An Illustrated History of Late Medieval England ed. C. Given-Wilson (1996)
A New History of Ireland II - Medieval Ireland, 1169-1534 ed. A. Cosgrove OUP (1987)
Ireland in the Middle Ages by Sean Duffy, Macmillan 1997 by author (publisher, date)
The Age of Conquest: Wales, 1063-1415 by R.R. Davies OUP (1987)
Independence and Nationhood, Scotland 1306 - 1469 by A. Grant (Arnold, 1984)
Standards of Living in the Late Middle Ages, 1200-1520 by C. Dyer (1989)
The Premature Reformation - Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History by A. Hudson (1988)
Medieval Writers and their work by J.A. Burrow (1982)
New Pelican Guide to English Literature I, pt. 1 - Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition ed. Boris Ford (1982)
The Architecture of Medieval Britain by C. Platt, Yale UP (1990)
Ian Bremner is Associate Producer of the BBC History of Britain series. He studied history at the Universities of Leeds and Vanderbilt (USA), and has worked as a journalist for ABC News and BBC Current Affairs.