Discussion of medieval European expansion tends to focus on expansion eastward and the crusades. The selection of studies reprinted here, however, focuses on the other end of Eurasia, where dwelled the warlike Celts, and beyond whom lay the north seas and the awesome Atlantic Ocean, formidable obstacles to expansion westward. This volume looks first at the legacy of the Viking expansion which had briefly created a network stretching across the sea from Britain and Ireland to North America, and had demonstrated that the Atlantic could be crossed and land reached. The next sections deal with the English expansion in the western and northern British Isles. In the 12th century the Normans began the process of subjugating the Celts, thus inaugurating for the English an experience which was to prove crucial when colonizing the Americas in the 17th century. Medieval Ireland in particular served as a laboratory for the development of imperial institutions, attitudes, and ideologies that shaped the creation of the British Empire and served as a staging area for further expansion westward.
Contents: Introduction. Part 1 The Viking Age: A note on the Norse occupation of Ireland, Jean I. Young; Vikings in the West Atlantic: a model of Norse Greenlandic medieval society, Christian Keller; The political policies of Cnut as king of England, Laurence M. Larson. Part 2 Creating an Empire Along the Atlantic Frontier: The beginnings of English imperialism, John Gillingham; 'Keeping the natives in order': the English king and the 'Celtic' rulers 1066-1216, Rees Davies; Overlordship and reaction, c.1200-c.1450, Robin Frame. Part 3 The Conquest of Britain: Lords and communities: political society in the 13th century, Michael Brown; Kings, lords and liberties in the March of Wales, 1066-1272, R.R. Davies; The Normans and the Welsh March, J.G. Edwards. Part 4 Expansion Overseas: The Coming of the English to Ireland: Strongbow, Henry II and Anglo-Norman intervention in Ireland, Marie Therese Flanagan; The Bull Laudabiliter, Kate Norgate; The character of Norman settlement in Ireland, Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven; Conquest and settlement: patterns of Anglo-Norman settlement in North Munster and South Leinster, C.A. Empey; Urbanisation in Ireland during the high Middle Ages, c.1100 to c.1350, Brian Graham. Part 5 Governing Medieval Ireland: The native Irish and English law in medieval Ireland, Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven; 'Les Engleys nées en Irlande': the English political identity in medieval Ireland, Robin Frame; The Irish Remonstrance of 1317: an international perspective, J.R.S. Phillips; England against the Celtic fringe: a study in cultural stereotypes, W.R. Jones. Part 6 Sailing West from the British Isles at the End of the Middle Ages: The argument for the English discovery of America between 1480 and 1494, David B. Quinn; Index.
The 'rise of the west' is the most familiar and most elusive topic in global history. Everyone agrees it happened. No one can say how, when, where or why, without provoking dissent. Yet the world we inhabit is, by universal acknowledgement, the outcome.
In recent years, controversy has focussed on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - the 'early modern period', when Western expansion became a conspicuous phenomenon in a world of colliding empires and unprecedented long-range cultural exchange. But, like most such apparently new departures in history, Western European activity in the 'expanding world' of early modernity is best understood against a background of long, sometimes faltering preparation in the Middle Ages.
Therefore, following the success of the series An Expanding World, a series of key papers on the period, published by Routledge and edited by A.J.R. Russell-Wood, Ashgate has commissioned an attempt to collect cutting-edge research on the medieval background and events of European expansion. Felipe Fernandez-Armesto and James Muldoon have gathered classic and key contributions from learned journals and other arcane publications to give readers a conspectus of knowledge, analysis and reflection on the history of the frontiers, mental horizons, internal expansion and means of growth of Latin Christendom from the eleventh to the early sixteenth centuries.