Tuesday, 30 June 1998

A.R. Myers: England in the Late Middle Ages (1307-1536)

Edition: Penguin, 1981
Review number: 78

Like D.M. Stenton's English Society in the Early Middle Ages, this book forms part of the Pelican History of England. It's aim is similar - to provide a popular level, short history which maintains high standards of scholarly accuracy.

Myers divides the period into four, and examines various facets of the historical picture with the same chapter headings in each section (basically looking at political, economic, social, religious and art history). He doesn't stop at the usual endpoint given for the English middle ages, 1485 and the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, and he gives convincing reasons why 1536 (the dissolution of the monasteries and the establishment of the Anglican church)marks a better division. (These reasons include the common policy of the late Yorkist kings and early Tudors, the lack of continental humanist influence, the continuing faithfulness to Rome and the monastic idea, and so on.)

A very good basic history, though the concise nature means that certain aspects need to be skimmed over rather too rapidly. One area where this is particularly noticeable is the unquestioning acceptance of the standard picture of Richard III's murder of the princes in the tower; even if Myers felt that the traditional view is correct, his omission of any argument is not really helpful.

No comments: