Accessibility statement

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

« Back to module search

  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sethina Watson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module summary

The death of Edward the Confessor in 1065 inaugurated one of the most controversial, and fertile, periods of English rule. This module takes us from the Norman Conquest to the merciless rule of the Confessor’s namesake, Edward I, years that produced some of England’s most famous kings and violent crises. Here we explore the problems of power and the art of rule in medieval England. We look at the tools of domination (from castles and alliances, to ruthless ministers) as well as the rebellions that constantly 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 exchequer, parliament, common law, and Westminster -- and we will see how they arose and were used. It was also a period that produced some of our most popular political stories. Many are 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 heroes or legends, such as King Arthur. We will explore 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.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

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 16 twice weekly lectures delivered in weeks 2-9 plus one round-up session in week 10, and eight 90 minute discussion groups.

The lecture programme might include the following:-

Conquest: Williams I and II (1065-1100)

1. 1066: the Battle of Hastings and its build-up

2. The Norman Conquest: Sources and Problems

3. The Normanization of England? Lordship, Revolt and Ethnicity

4. Aftermath: The England of the Conquerors

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

           5. Governing a Cross-channel Realm

           6. Succession, Claim and Family

           7. Anarchy! Stephen, Matilda(s) and their powerbases

           8. Opportunity? The 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 orphaned king: Henry III (and William the Marshall)

          14. Baronial rebellion (Simon de Montfort)

          15. Edward I: Law and Order

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

          17. Revision: the rule of England

Seminar discussions will likely deal with the following :-

2. The Norman Conquest

3. 1066-1100: Was this really Domesday?

4. Domination and the art of Rule: the Conqueror's sons

5. Anarchy & Nation: Stephen (and Matildas)

6. John of Salisbury and the Troublesome Priest

7. Magna Carta

8. The Montfortian Rebellion: Who were the rebels and what did they stand for?

9. Criticism & Controversy: Who rules England?


Task Length % of module mark
Students will complete a 2000 word assessed essay, due in week 1 of the spring term
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
Students will complete a 2000 word assessed essay, due in week 1 of the spring term
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:

Clanchy, Michael. England and its Rulers. 3rd ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006.

Carpenter, David. The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Matthew, Donald. Britain and the Continent 1000-1300: The Impact of the Norman Conquest. London: Hodder Arnold, 2005.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students