The Decline of Villeinage

The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is well-known, and it is often thought that the decline of serfdom, or villeinage, began at about this time. The truth is more complex. Like most English traditions, villeinage took a long time to pass and outlived its usefulness by many decades. Indeed Queen Elizabeth I still owned serfs –… Continue reading The Decline of Villeinage

Election of MPs. How local ‘democracy’ worked in the late Middle Ages.

In principle, each shire was supposed to elect two knights to represent it in Parliament – hence the expression ‘Knights of the shire.’ The leading men of the county (excluding magnates) would meet at the quarter-sessions or county court and choose suitable candidates, who would then be nominated by the Sheriff, whose job it was… Continue reading Election of MPs. How local ‘democracy’ worked in the late Middle Ages.

The many wonders of medieval Caversham

Caversham is just across the Thames from Reading. The present bridge carrying the main road between the two places is modern, but it is more or less on the site of a medieval stone and timber bridge, dating from between 1163 and 1231. Sources vary as to whether it had one, two or three chapels,… Continue reading The many wonders of medieval Caversham