Disunited Kingdoms

Peoples and Politics in the British Isles 1280-1460

By Michael Brown

© 2012 – Routledge

344 pages

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Paperback: 9781405840590
pub: 2013-01-21

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About the Book

In the last decades of the thirteenth century the British Isles appeared to be on the point of unified rule, dominated by the lordship, law and language of the English. However by 1400 Britain and Ireland were divided between the warring kings of England and Scotland, and peoples still starkly defined by race and nation. Why did the apparent trends towards a single royal ruler, a single elite and a common Anglicised world stop so abruptly after 1300? And what did the resulting pattern of distinct nations and extensive borderlands contribute to the longer-term history of the British Isles?

In this innovative analysis of a critical period in the history of the British Isles, Michael Brown addresses these fundamental questions and shows how the national identities underlying the British state today are a continuous legacy of these years. Using a chronological structure to guide the reader through the key periods of the era, this book also identifies and analyses the following dominant themes throughout:

- the changing nature of kingship and sovereignty and their links to wars of conquest

- developing ideas of community and identity

- key shifts in the nature of aristocratic societies across the isles

- the European context, particularly the roots and course of the Hundred Years War

This is essential reading for undergraduates studying the history of late Medieval Britain or Europe, but will also be of great interest for anyone who wishes to understand the continuing legacy of the late medieval period in Britain.


'This is a wide-ranging text drawing together, via a scholarly interdisciplinary apparatus, a wealth of primary and secondary sources…deriving from the Continent, Britain, and Ireland. Using chronicles, state documents, parliamentary records, and diplomatic correspondence, Brown provides a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the volatile and often turbulent nature of sovereignty…Disunited Kingdoms is a significant addition to the promising historiography encompassing late medieval and early modern European, British and Irish socio-political affairs.'- Katherine Basanti, University of Aberdeen

Table of Contents

Introduction: Warlords and Sovereign Lords 1. Edward the Conqueror 2. Robert Bruce 3. Sovereignty and War 4. Rulers and Realms 5. Peoples, Crises and Conflicts 6. Elites and Identities 7. Borderlands: Lords and Regions 8. Hundred Years Wars: The European Context 9. Politics and Power in the British Isles (c.1360-1415) 10. Four Lands: The British Isles in the Early Fifteenth Century. Conclusions Nations and Unions

About the Author

Michael Brown is Reader in Scottish History at the University of St Andrews. He has previously worked at the University of Aberystwyth, University College Dublin and the University of Aberdeen. Previous books include James I (1994), The Black Douglases (1998), The Wars of Scotland 1214-1371 (2004) and Bannockburn: The Scottish War and the British Isles 1307-1323 (2008).

About the Series

The Medieval World

The Medieval World series covers post Roman and medieval societies and major figures in Europe and the Mediterranean, including western, central and eastern Europe as well as North Africa, the Middle East, and Byzantium. Books in the series cover a broad spectrum of subjects. These range from general topics, such as rural and urban economies, religion and religious institutions, rulership, law, conflict and power, gender and sexuality, and material culture, to biographies and interpretations of major figures, from kings, emperors and popes to saints and theologians.

Books in the Medieval World Series are intended to be an introduction to the authors’ specialist subjects and a gateway into the state of the art and current debates in those subjects – the book they would like their students to read before they take advanced undergraduate or graduate level seminars, and that scholars and students in other fields, both inside and outside of medieval history, would resort to first to learn about current work on these subjects.

At the same time, books in the series should be original scholarly monographs that contribute to their authors’ specific fields of interest. They should not only present the state of the art and introduce readers to current debates; they should express the authors’ ideas and develop them into innovative arguments that will contribute to and influence those debates.

The books should range in length between 100,000-and 140,000 words (including notes and other reference material). They may also contain a small number of images, provided that those images are discussed in the text.

If you are interested in writing for the series please contact:

Warren Brown, wcb@hss.caltech.edu and Piotr Górecki, piotr.gorecki@ucr.edu

Series Editors, The Medieval World

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Medieval