IMS Publication: 'Petitions and Strategies of Persuasion in the Middle Ages'

Thomas W. Smith, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the IMS, recently published a co-edited volume titled 'Petitions and Strategies of Persuasion in the Middle Ages'.

Petitions and Strategies of Persuasion 

Dr Thomas W. Smith (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Leeds), published a co-edited volume titled Petitions and Strategies of Persuasion in the Middle Ages: The English Crown and the Church, c.1200 - c.1550 in December 2018. Smith's areas of expertise include medieval ecclesiastical history, the papacy, the crusading movement, and the transmission and reception of texts, among other interests. The volume, co-edited by Helen Killick (post-doctoral researcher at the ICMA Centre, University of Reading) and published by York Medieval Press (associated with Boydell & Brewer), is an important new contribution to the emerging field of late medieval supplicatory cultures. 

The wide-ranging collection brings two approaches into dialogue with each other: the study of royal justice and secular petitions presented to the English crown, and the study of papal justice, canon law and ecclesiastical petitions. This crosses the traditional demarcation lines between secular and ecclesiastical systems of justice, which are of particular importance given the participation by many litigants and legislators in both of those legal spheres. A major focus is the mechanics of petitioning, as well as a re-examining of the relationship between petitioners and their advisors, and the specific legal, rhetorical and linguistic choices they made in the composition of these texts. 

IMS Connections

Smith explained the idea for the volume developed from International Medieval Congress (IMC) sessions that Matthew Phillips (Independent Scholar) and Smith organised in 2015, and 'most of the chapters can trace their origins' to these sessions. Smith, Killick, and Phillips all contributed chapters to the volume in addition to the Introduction written by Smith and Killick, as follows:

  • 'Petitions of Conflict: The Bishop of Durham and Forfeitures of War, 1317-1333' (Phillips)
  • 'The Scribes of Petitions in Late Medieval England' (Killick)
  • 'The Papacy, Petitioners and Benefices in Thirteenth-Century England' (Smith)

Smith called it 'a great pleasure' to work with co-editor Killick, who offered her expertise on royal petitioning in the Late Middle Ages; in particular, Smith described how Killick's perspective 'balanced my own perspective as an ecclesiastical historian'. 

Ultimately Smith claimed the aim of the book 'is to fuse two rich historiographical traditions - on ecclesiastical and papal systems of petitioning and royal petitions from Late Medieval England - which have hitherto remained distinct, and to bring them into discourse with one another'. Petitions and Strategies of Persuasion in the Middle Ages offers new insights into the Church and Crown by adopting a 'bottom-up approach' to institutions traditionally considered from 'top-down perspectives'. 

Purchasing Details

Petitions and Strategies of Persuasion in the Middle Ages is available from Boydell & Brewer. Boydell is currently offering a launch discount of 25%. To use this discount, add the code BB125 at online checkout.