Tag Archives: England

HISTORY Great Battles Medieval RPG Battle Game

This looks quite interesting, but shame there are no screenshots or videos. Wonder how it will compare to Medieval Total War? The screenshots of their previous game HISTORYTM Great Battles of Rome, look very Total War like.

Here’s some info:

HISTORYTM Great Battles Medieval is based on the historical events of the Hundred Years War, the most famous conflict of medieval times fought between France and England that shaped the future of both countries for centuries to follow. It features Slitherine’s cutting edge graphic engine and a brand new game play system that allows players to be in complete control of massive armies. From the thunderous charge of the knights to the men-at-arms fighting for their lives in hand-to-hand combat, the game will recreate the epic feel of medieval battles, featuring thousands of characters simultaneously.

  • Licensed and TV supported by HistoryTM, one of the best known brands for factual historical programming.
  • As the English you will fight under the Black Prince, Henry V and other heroic characters from history, and as the French you fight for Joan of Arc and the King.
  • 70 Medieval battles, including 26 historical encounters from the Hundred Years war, 1337-1453.
  • Command more than 20 different units all accurately researched and carefully modelled in amazing detail.
  • Customise your squads of archers, cavalry, knights, etc with over 100 unique fighting, combat and weapon skills.
  • Free form quest maps that allow players to decide when and where to fight within an historical framework.
  • Innovative Battle Card system that gives realistic bonuses and penalties in battle.
  • Multiplayer: join a game or host your own in 2 player head to head.
  • Extensive added historical documentary clips from the library of HISTORYTM TV channel.
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What’s Not in the Pase Domesday Book Online

I blogged about the fantastic Pase Domesday project yesterday, which is an online reference tool to access data about people and places from the Domesday Book.

What I should have mentioned as well is what seems to not be available from Pase Domesday, which is all the detail of what customs and fees are owed by each manor and borough, and also what resources they had – for instance how many plough teams, how many acres of woodland etc. All of this fascinating content is available elsewhere though and can be downloaded from:

University of Hull

The Economic and Social Data Service

You should be able to access everything in MS Access from these downloads.

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Domesday Book Database Now Online

We seem to have a Norman theme today!

You can now search the Domesday Book online thanks to the PASE Domesday project run by King’s College, London and the University of Cambridge.

Here’s a sample output for the town where I grew up (click on the image to see it in detail):

Taunton in the Domesday Book

You can also look up people and get map views as well. Previously the data was available as a downloadable file, but the online version looks very user friendly as well, so I’m sure this resource will be very valuable to anyone interested in that period. Even as a historian who is interested in later events (14c) some of the detail about manors is very interesting to look at as there aren’t similarly comprehensive records available for the later Middle Ages.

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Making up history: a Medieval English Postal Service

I am currently working on the chapter summaries for my novel Hell has its Demons, which is a recently interesting process as I find out that I need to flesh out more details of the setting for the novel (England in 1376). One of these details was how one of my main characters, Jake, was going to send a letter for his master, Roger, from Oxford to St. Brett’s Abbey. (St. Brett’s is a fictional place, but is roughly 20-30 miles north of London.)

Medieval Postal Services

When I had written the synopsis none of this seemed like a problem, but then I realised that I didn’t know how a private individual would get a letter sent somewhere in the country. I did a bit of internet research and nothing much came up. The only information I found was that some of the Italian banks had their own courier networks that extended throughout the major centres of Europe. I imagine that the government, probably organized by the Chancery, would also have a means for sending letters to various officials such as Sheriffs around the kingdom, no doubt employing a number of fast riders with the ability to purvey horses as and when required on their journeys.

But what about individuals’ letters?

But what about private individuals wanting to send letters between towns in England. Perhaps if my characters wanted to send a letter from London to Paris they could use the Italian banks network, paying a fee to do this? Then I read in some of my research on Abbeys that the Benedictine monasteries were connected by their own communication network. This seemed a better option as Benedictine Abbeys were so widespread around England that there were bound to be one near to most towns in the country. I found that the nearest one to Oxford was Abingdon Abbey, just about 7 miles from Oxford, and of course St. Brett’s Abbey was also Benedictine. So that perhaps would be a solution. As well as sending their own correspondence the Benedictine monks might also be willing to make some money on the side and send letters for paying individuals as well.

Making up a Postal Service based on Benedictine Abbeys

But how would it all work? How often would couriers travel, what would be their route and how could you know if your letter was going to be delivered. This is the system that I came up, which I hope isn’t too unlikely:

Routes: I decided that Abingdon would be on a route that ran from the West of England to London. I imagined that there might be other routes coming from the Midlands, North-West, East Anglia and the North-East – a bit like a modern train map of England.

Couriers: These would be individuals retained by the Benedictine’s to carry letters. I thought perhaps there would be two or three operating on this route.

Schedule: It would probably take about a day’s fastish riding to ride from Abingdon to London, so a total journey of a week from Cornwall to London didn’t seem unrealistic.

Payment: I’m not sure how much they would pay yet. The courier would be paid twice for each letter delivered: once when they took receipt of the letter and once when the delivered the letter at an agreed time. They would only receive their full delivery payment if the letter was safely delivered and to the time agreed by the sender. This would ensure that they were incentivized to travel quickly and to keep their letters safe.

I thought that split tallies, which were used by the Exchequer and by merchants to record monies owed, would be a perfect means of recording who the letter for and when it was supposed to be delivered. The receiver of the letter would also be passed the tally stick by the courier and when they confirmed that the letter had been delivered on time they would pay them the full amount. Perhaps a lesser amount would be paid if delivery was delayed, and this could be agreed and noted on the tally stick as well.

Hopefully this is a sensible option for solving what seems to be a gap in the history we have for the means of sending letters in medieval times. Another possibility might be that individuals would approach travelling merchants and ask them to take letters, although this might be a lot slower and a less reliable option.

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Were the Earls of 1376 up to the challenge of the Good Parliament?

A depiction of the parliament of England in se...
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Good Parliament

1376 was the year of the Good Parliament, a year of great upheaval when  the government of England was in question. King Edward III was ill and given over to indulging his mistress, Alice Perrers. His courtiers were skimming as much money out of the system as they could – rather like today’s Members of Parliament in fact. Edward’s eldest son, the Black Prince, had been ill for many years, and was dying. The main representative of the crown was John of Gaunt, who up until 1376 had appeared disinterested in domestic politics. He claimed the crown of Castile through his marriage to Pedro the Cruel’s daughter, Constance.

So what then of the Earls, supposedly the advisors and supporters of the crown? Were they up to the job? Could they help the Commons of the Good Parliament reform the government and get rid of the stain of corruption? It’s a bit like asking whether the new Conservative/Liberal coalition government in the UK can stick to their good intentions? A lot of promises made, but in the end? Well perhaps we’ll let history decide on that one.

The Earls

You can read more detail about each of the Earls at English Earldoms in 1376, one of my resource pages for this year in history.

Unfortunately many of them were young and inexperienced, for example the Earl of Arundel was a prominent noble, but died in 1376, to be succeeded by his inexperienced son. While Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford and a childhood companion of the future Richard II, was only 15 in 1376.

The most prominent of the Earls were Warwick, Stafford, Suffolk and March. They do seem to have taken a proactive role in the events of 1376, demanding more involvement in government. Indeed March, along with William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, was most probably the leader of the opposition. He was supported by Warwick and Stafford to a certain extent as well.

Hopes of reform dashed

Unfortunately for Parliament, the Earl’s support was not unified and John of Gaunt overturned many of their impeachments aimed at corrupt courtiers. Gaunt even deprived March of his position as Marshall, instead having this conferred on Henry Percy, along with the Earldom of Northumberland in 1377. By the end of 1376 all of the ordinances of the Good Parliament had been overturned, and in 1377 Gaunt called a new Parliament, one that would do his bidding.

There was very little protest from the nobility about this. In the end the Earls were too interested in their own ambitions to work together.

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New content in Magic in the Middle Ages

I just added a new page in the Magic in the Middle Ages section:

Cases of Magic in Medieval England

This contains a couple of cases mentioned by Henry Charles Lea in his famous History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. It is interesting to note that magic was fairly rare as an offence in England, and, of course, the inquisition itself never formally operated in England.

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England in 1376

I have added a new section to the Hell has its Demons pages called England in 1376. In this section of the site I’ll be  adding information about the social and political situation in England in 1376, the year in which the novel takes place.

First up is some information about who the most important nobles were at the time – the Earls of England in 1376.