IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1601: Order, Honour, and Prestige

Thursday 12 July 2012, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Wendy R. Childs, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of History, University of Leeds
Paper 1601-aOrdering the Great Household: Gentlemen Ushers and the Honour of the Lord in Late Medieval England
(Language: English)
Chris Woolgar, Department of History / Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton
Index terms: Architecture - Secular, Archives and Sources, Daily Life, Social History
Paper 1601-bJudging Wealth by Clothing: Distinguishing Among Those That Could Not Wear Silk
(Language: English)
Sarai Silverman, Ohio State University
Index terms: Daily Life, Economics - Trade, Law, Social History
Paper 1601-cPrestige, Control, Defence, Display: The Late Medieval Brick Gatehouse - Urban, Monastic, Domestic
(Language: English)
David H. Kennett, Independent Scholar, Shipston-on-Stour
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Architecture - Secular, Social History

Paper -a:
15th-century household practice in England was increasingly elaborate and servants of honour proliferated in order to create magnificence and to regulate its detail. By the end of the century we have extended accounts of how the household was expected to function. The role of the gentlemen ushers was crucial, in managing and controlling the establishment and its ceremony. This paper looks at the instructions and treatises written for these officers, especially the Second Northumberland Household Book, and how these servants of honour had an impact on both daily routine and special occasions.

Paper -b:
The 1363 English sumptuary law suggests a legislative response to the rise in purchasing power among the English middle classes in the mid-14th century. In terms of material culture the burgeoning middle class will be studied using the most comprehensive English sumptuary law of the 14th century. The 1363 law specifically forbids silk to all but the highest income bracket of esquires, gentlemen, and merchants, and knights, the highest social class addressed by the law, suggesting that silk was affordable to some of those that were banned from purchasing it. This paper will identify those who could purchase silk and were banned from doing so, and study them in the broader cultural context.

Paper -c:
Brick gatehouses were an integral part of late medieval brick houses and sometimes occur as town gates (e.g. Newgate, London) and at monastic establishments. The paper examines why they there built under the inter-linked headings of Prestige, Control, Defence, and Display. It notes the elaborate nature of the brickwork at gatehouses, often in contrast to the more plain brickwork of the rest of the building. In towns and monastic sites, the gatehouse could control ingress and egress, and whilst sieges were not expected in late medieval England, the gatehouse could be the last place of defence for a town. The prestige of the owner of the structure was enhanced by their ability to commission the gatehouse.