Main interests in later medieval political culture, the social context of the law, the archives of the late medieval English government. New monograph: The Royal Pardon: Access to Mercy in Fourteenth Century England (Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer Press, 2009).
Pragmatic Literacy and Political Consciousness in Later Medieval England
The royal pardon
Pioneering investigation of the royal pardon, looking at the wider implications it held beyond the purely legal.
Protection and Immunity in Fourteenth-Century England
‘Grace for the rebels’: the role of the royal pardon in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381
This article focuses on the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 as a means of examining some of the late medieval assumptions about the nature of royal mercy. Rather than adding to the weight of scholarship on the causes and characteristics of the Revolt, this article discusses the views on mercy (‘grace for the rebels’)1 that were reportedly expressed by all parties during the course of the rebellion. The first section analyses the chronicles and their references to discussion of pardon and mercy during the revolt itself. The second section examines the role of the royal pardon in the subsequent judicial proceedings in the Home Counties — who were the first recipients of pardon, and how were they able to secure royal grace? The final section then discusses the formulation of the pardon in the autumn parliament, and the debate surrounding the course of government policy in the wake of revolt on an unprecedented scale. This article seeks to demonstrate that the Crown and commons shared a common language of pardon, and understood that by framing their discussion in terms of royal grace, they were alluding to a particular kind of idealised relationship between the king and his subjects.