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Kingship, Rule & Mythmaking: England 1065 - 1307 - HIS00014I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Danielle Park
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

The death of Edward the Confessor in 1065 launched one of the most controversial, and fertile, periods of English rule. This module takes us from the Norman Conquest to the rule of Edward I, ‘Hammer of the Scots’, years that produced some of England’s most famous kings and violent crises. We will explore the problems of power, the art of rule, and the family dramas that shaped a medieval kingdom, looking at the tools of domination as well as the rebellions that so often challenged that rule. And we consider the changing stage of English kingship (and queenship), from Anglo-Norman realm, to Angevin Empire, and finally to Britain, to think about how territory shaped royal ambition and the means by which kingship was justified.

This period fashioned some of the most enduring institutions of English government -- the Crown, the exchequer, parliament, common law, and Westminster -- and we will see how they arose and changed the very nature of power, and warfare. It was also a period that produced some of our most enduring political stories, many based on actual people or happenings (the Battle of Hastings, the hunting “accident” in the New Forest, Henry II and his Troublesome Priest, Richard the Lionheart and "Bad" King John); others on legends, such as King Arthur and his round table. We will consider how such stories shaped our sources and the politics of power in the middle ages. Along the way, we look at the Bayeux Tapestry, Domesday Book, and Magna Carta, as well as contemporary chronicles and biography. All sources are read in English translation.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to important specific historical themes and topics with a clear chronological or geographical focus;
  • To enable them to work on those topics by combining access to the specialised expertise of staff through lectures with their own close study and discussion of issues and reading;
  • To deepen students' understanding and appreciation of a range of historical subjects and issues; and
  • To support students' progression from the broad chronological and conceptual work undertaken at Stage 1 of their programme to more detailed and rigorous study of particular topics.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have a broad overview of specific historical themes and topics with a clear chronological and geographical focus;
  • Be able to evaluate different interpretations of the subject matter and approaches to it;
  • Gain a critical awareness of the primary material and secondary works used in these interpretations and approaches; and
  • Be able to synthesise information from lectures, discussion groups and reading to make evidence-based arguments both orally and in writing.

Module content

Teaching Programme:

This 20-credit module consists of sixteen twice weekly lectures delivered in weeks 2-9, plus one round-up session in week 10 and eight 90 minute discussion groups.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

Conquest: Williams I and II (1065-1100)

1. 1066: the Battle and its build-up

2. Norman Conquest: Sources and Problems

3. Aftermath: Revolt and Rule

4. Conquest England

Consolidation and Fragmentation: Henry I and Stephen (1100-1154)

5. Governing a Cross-channel Realm

6. Family, Claim and History

7. Anarchy? Stephen, Matilda(s) and the troubled reign

8. Opportunity? Barons and their priorities

The Angevins (1154-1215)

9. Henry II: The Church and the Law

10. Court Culture and Court Stories (or, who believes in Arthur?)

11. Distant Heroes: Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitaine (and trouble at home)

12. Present Realities: King John, Empire and the scramble for money

King, Parliament and England Henry III and Edward I (1215-1307)

13. The orphan king and the hero (William the Marshall)

14. Competing visions of rule? Henry III and his barons

15. Edward I: Law and Order

16. The Hammer besieged (1290-1307): War and Crisis

17. Revision: the rule of England


Task Length % of module mark
2,000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will be required to write a 2,000-word procedural essay for formative assessment, due in either week 5 or week 7 of the autumn term. They will then complete a 2,000-word essay for summative assessment, due in week 1 of the spring term.


Task Length % of module mark
2,000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their discussion groups and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work with their tutor (or module convenor) during student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Brian Golding, Conquest and Colonisation: The Normans in Britain, 1066-1100, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013.

Judith Green, Forging the Kingdom: Power in English Society, 973-1189, Cambridge: University Press, 2017.

Rees Davis, The First English Empire, 1093–1343, Oxford: University Press, 2000.

Ralph V. Turner, Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.