Anthony Mansfield - Sessional Lecturer

Anthony MansfieldMedieval historians have been monarchists in their assessments of societies in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The systems of royal governance have been extolled and as a consequence this has often positioned the aristocracy in a negative and servile position. The European aristocracies have been understood within the ‘kingdoms’ of royal supremacy, therefore, neglecting the local authority of lordships and their regional distinctiveness from central powers.

The perpetuation of the central view has been caused by national historiographies, which have placed twentieth century notions of nationalism onto the Middle Ages. As a consequence lords of the period have seldom been compared against contemporaries from alternate kingdoms. Furthermore studies on aristocracies have been centred on French, English and German lords. Therefore central Europe has dominated the discourse in our understanding of European aristocrats, thus, marginalising other networks of study.

This thesis intends to challenge the perception of central supremacy over the locality. It will argue that regional lordships were predominantly influenced by local identities and prestigious families. The project will use a comparative methodology to assess the lords of eastern England, eastern Normandy, western Flanders and central Norway. The key themes of the study centre on territory, solidarities, inheritances and noble texts of the aristocracy. Ultimately, the research will not only illuminate the impact of regional distinctiveness in the Middle Ages, but it will also provide a new network in the shape of the North Sea world.

Supervisor: Philip Morgan   Second Supervisor: Kathleen Cushing

See Anthony’s staff page here.