Robin McCallum

‘Bristol, Norwich and the three Edwards, 1272-1350’
Supervisors: James Davis and Keith Lilley

Robin blogMy main research interest is in the relationship between English provincial towns and the king during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. My PhD thesis examines the king’s relationship with Bristol and Norwich during the years 1272 to 1350. This period witnessed English wars with Scotland, Wales and France; the Black Death; the Great Famine and Murrain crisis of 1315-22; civil war; and the emergence of Parliament. My key research aim is to examine why kings required and maintained their interest in towns. This research statement can be reversed to provide another aim: why did towns require royal support and patronage? My research is based on the themes of royal charters and privileges; urban disturbances; parliamentary representation; finance and commerce; and defence of the kingdom. My research also pursues a prosopographical approach by identifying prominent urban individuals who had relations with the royal government.

My research on royal charters to Bristol and Norwich highlights that the liberties issued to these towns were primarily focused on problems associated with the maintenance of law and order, the ability to imprison felons, the payment of the fee farm, and the guardianship of land which belonged to orphans. I also examine what methods townsmen used to acquire charters from the king. By the late thirteenth century, parliament was fundamental to the interaction between urban communities and the crown because it was the arena where urban representatives petitioned the king. In addition to parliament, townsmen used royal visits to the town to request an expansion or confirmation of their liberties. Towns could also exploit local nobles, such as Queen Isabella, in their quest for a charter.

Aside from my PhD research, I am currently writing an article on the disturbances in monastic boroughs from 1327-1331. This argues that the economic malaise of the early fourteenth century influenced the outbreak of disturbances in St Albans, Bury St Edmunds and Abingdon.

Conference Papers:

‘Royal Charters to Bristol and Norwich, 1272-1350’, Medieval Cultures Seminar, QUB, February 2014

‘The Acquisition of Royal Charters by Bristol and Norwich, 1272-1350’, Economic History Society’s Residential course for PhD Students, University of Manchester, December 2013

‘The Urban Revolts in English Monastic Boroughs, 1327-1331’, Coping with Crisis Conference: Re-evaluating the role of crises in economic and social history, Durham University, July 2013

‘Revolts against Monastic Lordship in England, 1327-1331’, Monasticism and Lordship: Second Postgraduate Monasticism Conference, University of Leeds, May 2013

‘The English Urban Revolts’, Medieval Cultures Seminar, QUB, March 2013

‘Politics, Kingship and Revolt: the urban revolts in Abingdon, Bury St Edmunds and St Albans, 1327-1331’, Irish History Students’ Association, QUB, March 2013



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