For the first time in a generation, a historian has had the vision and confidence to write a spell-binding account of the era immortalised by Shakespeare's history plays. THE HOLLOW CROWN brilliantly brings to life for the reader a world we have long lost - a strange, Catholic, rural country of monks, peasants, knights and merchants, almost perpetually at war - but continues to define so much of England's national myth.
Andrew Brown examines how the teachings of an increasingly 'universal' Church decisively affected the religious life of the laity in medieval England. However, by exploring a broad range of religious phenomena, both orthodox and heretical (including corporate religion and the devotional practices surrounding cults and saints) Brown shows how far lay people continued to shape the Church at a local level.
In the hands of the laity, religious practices proved malleable. Their expression was affected by social context, status and gender, and even influenced by those in authority. Yet, as Brown argues, religion did not function simply as an expression of social power - hierarchy, patriarchy and authority could be both served and undermined by religion. In an age in which social mobility and upheaval, particularly in the wake of the Black Death, had profound effects on religious attitudes and practices, Brown demonstrates that our understanding of late medieval religion should be firmly placed within this context of social change.
Drawing on an array of archival evidence from court records to the poems of Chaucer, this work explores how medieval thinkers understood economic activity, how their ideas were transmitted and the extent to which they were accepted. Moving beyond the impersonal operations of an economy to its ethical dimension, Hole’s socio-cultural study considers not only the ideas and beliefs of theologians and philosophers, but how these influenced assumptions and preoccupations about material concerns in late medieval English society. Beginning with late medieval English writings on economic ethics and its origins, the author illuminates a society which, although strictly hierarchical and unequal, nevertheless fostered expectations that all its members should avoid greed and excess consumption. Throughout, Hole aims to show that economic ethics had a broader application than trade and usury in late medieval England.