George Garnett is a medievalist with interests ranging well into the early modern period. He has supervised research students working on English and Norman history from the tenth to the fourteenth century; on medieval and early modern political thought; and on medieval and early modern legal history.
Conquered England: Kingship, Succession, and Tenure, 1066-1166 (Oxford University Press, 2007)
Conquered England argues that Duke William of Normandy's claim to succeed Edward the Confessor on the throne of England profoundly influenced not only the practice of royal succession, but also played a large part in creating a novel structure of land tenure, dependent on the king. In these two fundamental respects, the attempt made in the aftermath of the Conquest to demonstrate seamless continuity with Anglo-Saxon England severed almost all continuity. A paradoxical result was a society in which instability in succession at the top exacerbated instability lower down. The first serious attempt to address these problems began when arrangements were made, in 1153, for the succession to King Stephen. Henry II duly succeeded him, but claimed rather to have succeeded his grandfather, Henry I, Stephen's predecessor. Henry II's attempts to demonstrate continuity with his grandfather were modelled on William the Conqueror's treatment of Edward the Confessor. Just as William's fabricated history had been the foundation for the tenurial settlement recorded in the Domesday Book, so Henry II's, in a different way, underpinned the early common law procedures which began to undermine aspects of that settlement. The official history of the Conquest played a crucial role not only in creating a new society, but in the development of that society.
His first research interests lay in English history of the tenth to thirteenth centuries, specifically what used to be called constitutional history. He has published a large study of the impact of the Norman Conquest on notions of kingship, succession, and tenure; a briefer introduction to the Conquest; and several essays on these and related themes. He also works on political thought in a more conventional sense: he has published an edition of Vindiciae, contra tyrannos, the highly influential sixteenth-century Huguenot resistance treatise, and a study of the role of providential history in the thought of the fourteenth-century Italian theorist and anti-papal publicist, Marsilius of Padua. Thanks to a recent Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, he is at present completing a history of the history of the Norman Conquest, from the twelfth century to the end of the seventeenth; and has published some prolegomena on early modern English lawyers and antiquarians.