Thursday, August 31, 2006


I've learnt a lovely new word. Englishry.

I bet you'd diss your mate if he proposed it in a game of Scrabble. Englishry? You what? It's not a word, mate!

Well it is. But even if you look for the word, there's not a lot of it about. Not even in the wonderful Wikipedia. Largely because it's a legal term, which was repealed by Edward III in 1340. But law all the same.

It was an old law even at the time, dating back to the Conquest, which stated that if a man was found slain, he was presumed to be Norman unless proved to be English.

If it could not be proved that he was English, those living in the hundred in which he was found were fined.

Quite smart really, of the Normans, I'd say. "Murder your own to your hearts' content, but snaffle one of ours and we'll sting you where it hurts. In your pocket!" Seriously. Clever move for a small invading force. But the wish of the Commons to repeal it is indicative of the great change. Everyone was (and wanted to be) English. And no-one was gagging for an ID card to prove it!

In the same parliament Ed3 gave the first tax relief for the poor. It was stressed that it was not the wish of the king or the magnates nor of the commons that the new tax should be extended to 'poor cottagers or those who lived by their labour.' I agree entirely, the tax threshold should start at 35K...but that's another post...

Now while Ed3 is my favourite King, it should be noted that in 1340, he'd been abroad for the best part of two years.

He'd left his heavily pregnant queen in Ghent, as surety for his debts (where she subsequently gave birth to John of Gaunt (Ghent). And now he needed parliament to grant taxes. They would grant no further taxation without concessions, but he was prepared to grant what they wanted.

This process of creating legislation - responding to social demands in return for extraordinary taxation - was effectively selling laws. As a result it has bee attacked as a haphazard legislative programme. It certainly suggests he had no domestic legislative agenda at the time - how could he, he'd been away for a couple of years?

But was a responsive approach to lawgiving a negative thing? After all, most modern laws are passed n reaction to changing social circumstances and pressure from the grassroots. And he needed the goodwill of parliament (as well as the taxes) to finance the bedrock of his policy: to keep he enemies of England on the defensive and in their own lands.

If you would like to know more about Ed3, I commend you most highly to a new biography, wot I'm reading. Click the image link and buy it, even!

Categories: English Language_, History_, England_


Blogger Span Ows said...

"Englescherie"...yes, I like that.

Now why is Edward III (none of that ed3 business purleeez!) your favourite? ...maybe for the same reason Ian Mortimer calls him 'The Perfect King'?

P.S.....I bet you didn't read all my post on organic milk...

Fri Sep 01, 08:28:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Span Ows said...

p.p.s. Gildy was up all night to catch the beginning of LBC!

Fri Sep 01, 08:28:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Sarnia said...

Interesting and informative post, Gavin.

I love that period of history and Mags and I share a great interest in John of Gaunt and his mistress (later his wife) Katherine Swynford.

My daughter Katherine is named after her (Katherine Swynford that is - not Mags).

Fri Sep 01, 11:19:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Span your "Read the whole post..." bit was NOT there last night! I thought blimey! For once the old windbag has written something short and sweet... :-)

By the way I caught the Ed3 shorthand from Professor Clifford J. Rogers of West POint Military Academy who happens to be an international expert on the HYW (Hundred Years War) who helped me initially with my research! But then, he is an merican so what can you expect!

All the same he is the ONLY person I have EVER come across who knew without being told that the original Gavin Corder was a seneschal in the household of Ed3 and who fought in the King's division at the Battle of Crécy.

Sarnia, we're rather fond of John of Gaunt round here (Hungerford was his manor).

Fri Sep 01, 03:29:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Curmy said...

Very interesting Gavin, I'll have to read more about him.

Fri Sep 01, 07:57:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger IsobelMagsBuchan said...

John of Gaunt, had rather a lot of 'manors', Gavin, courtesy of his first wife of course.

Do you subscribe to Goodman's revisionist view of Gaunt, as a misunderstood man who was only trying to do his best for all and his country or do you spit in the eye of the revisionist and go with the he just wanted the crown for himself traditional brigade?

Fri Sep 01, 07:58:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Yes indeed Mags, positively acquisitive. But he is big in these here parts - one of the main secondary schools is called John O'Gaunt etc.

I have to say that it's his first wife's Dad, Henry of Grosmont who has been of special study to me. If Edward III is my favourite King his cousin Henry is my favourite knight. Earl of Derby, ('Erbi to the Gascons, first Duke of Lancaster which title passed through his daughter to John of Gaunt)

Were you one of my readers when I penned this about him?

Fri Sep 01, 09:05:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger IsobelMagsBuchan said...

No Gavin, I wasn't a reader back then....actually I don't think I'm a 'reader' now. I just come along to take the piss every now and again!

Anyway, you haven't answered my question......

I do get impatient.......

Fri Sep 01, 10:46:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Of course you're a bloody reader! If you were just a viewer, you'd qualify for pervery verging on Span's technique!

Do you mean Anthony Goodman, the Wars of the Roses chappy? Are you referring to "John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-century Europe", if so I haven't read it. I surmise though that his point is that if Gaunt had wanted the throne he could have taken it. And he was undeniably devoted to the well-being of the kingdom... If so I agree with him.

All would have been entirely different if Edward, the Black Prince, hadn't got ill and pre-deceased Ed3.

PS Patience is a virtue!

Fri Sep 01, 11:15:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Gavin, that was the book to which I was referring. You should read it. It is fascinating. I too subscribe to the revisionist view that Goodman espouses, so for once we agree on something!

As to the Black Prince, well that's what happens when you go galavanting all over Europe thrusting your trusty sword about. It might have helped if he had stayed at home a little more often and serviced his fair maid of Kent on a regular basis but having said that, it might have helped if he had married a younger woman! Still his Dad forgve him but then he did always favour his eldeset son and would have forgiven him anything.

Don't tell Mr Mags the bit about younger women.

Sat Sep 02, 01:50:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Crikey if all my readers agreed with me, where would be the fun in that!

Sat Sep 02, 01:58:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford fans out there - are you aware of the recent book that has been published on Katherine Swynford - A History of a Medieval Mistress?

Tue Jan 16, 10:48:00 AM GMT  

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