a new history of ireland. volume 2, medieval ireland, 1169-1534by art cosgrove

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  • A New History of Ireland. Volume 2, Medieval Ireland, 1169-1534 by Art CosgroveReview by: Brendan BradshawThe American Historical Review, Vol. 96, No. 1 (Feb., 1991), pp. 150-151Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2164056 .Accessed: 24/06/2014 23:16

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  • 150 Reviews of Books

    four entered Richard's household or received com- mensurate status. The other five eventually became rebels. Of the grants of office and land made in the ninety days after his coronation, Richard's own men formed a minority of the recipients, whereas most of the grants went to men identified as having been in Edward IV's service.

    The rebellion of 1483 showed Richard that his affinity had failed to become national, and it located the opposition in the southern counties from Kent to Cornwall. His frantic efforts to correct this opposition by placing household personnel in local offices also failed, for the localities saw his action as autocratic imposition. Richard's ultimate failure was his inability, after the October rebellion, to rely on any but the servants of his northern affinity.

    FRANKLIN J. PEGUES Ohio State University

    CHRISTINE WEIGHTMAN. Margaret of York: Duchess of Burgundy, 1446-1503. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1989. Pp. x, 244. $35.00.

    Christine Weightman summarizes Margaret of York's position in modern scholarship epigrammatically: "she has tended to disappear into the chasms which have been excavated between the fifteenth century and the early Tudors and between English and European his- tory" (p. 218). Hence, this new biography of Margaret, the first in English, is particularly welcome, and Weightman is particularly well suited to have written it because residence abroad has familiarized her with archival resources in Brussels, Malines, and Lille and with secondary scholarship published in the Low Coun- tries. Weightman's archival exploration is especially valuable in revealing both the economic realities of Margaret's position as dowager duchess of Burgundy and her efforts at reform of religious institutions, based on her sympathy with the devotio moderna. The treat- ment of Margaret as bibliophile is perhaps a bit less satisfying, depending as it does on older authorities such as William Blades and neglecting more recent work on William Caxton such as George Painter's, N. F. Blake's, and Lotte Hellinga's. (Hellinga's suggestion, based on bibliographical evidence, that Margaret might have been the original dedicatee of Caxton's History of Jason [1477] would certainly have interested Weight- man.) Nonetheless, bibliographically as well as histori- cally, the author makes available continental studies and much obscurely published work. It is astonishing to learn, for instance, thanks to the research of Muriel Hughes and G. Dogaer, that Margaret owned at least twenty-five books, certainly an important collection by the period's standards.

    The author is forced to summarize much well-known historical and political narrative in order to indicate Margaret's part in these events, and here Weightman's real gift for clear exposition is most evident. Her central thesis is that Margaret acted always as a faithful

    servant of Burgundian interests. Although her verdict on particular episodes may not much alter our perspec- tive-Margaret's undisputed endorsement of the York- ist pretenders, for instance, is only modified by Weight- man's reminder of how convenient both Henry VII and Maximilian of Austria found it to shift blame for this episode-the author nevertheless provides a newly detailed understanding of Margaret's place in these political realities.

    In doing so, one of the book's main strengths is manifested: it suggests how much unrecognized polit- ical work aristocratic women must have performed, and it indicates the nature of such work. Similarly revealing is Weightman's clear presentation of an aris- tocratic woman's sources of wealth and the responsibil- ities of governance expected of her, thanks to the archival documents that reveal how such elements shaped Margaret's existence.

    The book might have profited by a sterner copyedi- tor (there are many comma-separated sentences and some typos: "form" for "from" (p. 87), "cites" for "cities" (p. 164), "dependant" as an adjective (pp. 118, 177), Tondel for Tondal (p. 207), Campden for Cam- den Society (p. 221). Nevertheless, St. Martin's Press has given the book a beautiful production, including sharp reproductions of almost all of the paintings that the text makes us long to see, a very useful map of the Burgundian Low Countries, 1468-1503, and genealog- ical tables. The presentation thus enhances this useful and accomplished piece of work.


    Fordham University

    ART COSGROVE, editor. A New History of Ireland. Volume 2, Medieval Ireland, 1169-1534. New York: Clarendon Press of Oxford University Press. 1987. Pp. lxii, 982. $135.00.

    The novelty of this volume is highlighted by compari- son with the work that it effectively supersedes, A. J. Otway-Ruthven's History of Medieval Ireland, published in 1967. The novelty lies mainly in three features. In the first place, it lies in the multi-author nature of the enterprise. In that respect, the volume brings a degree of expertise to bear over the entire range of the subject, which Otway-Ruthven could not possibly achieve for all of her vast erudition and careful scholarship. Here Art Cosgrove is to be congratulated on assembling a team of contributors whose magisterial authority in their area of specialization is well established: F. J. Byne on the political culture of early medieval Ireland; F. X. Martin on the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman inva- sion; James Lydon on the development of the medieval lordship in the thirteenth century; J. A. Watt on the emergence of the problem of the "two nations" in the fourteenth century; Cosgrove himself on the so-called phase of Anglo-Irish Home Rule in the fifteenth cen- tury; and D. B. Quinn on the phase of "recovery" in the half-century that preluded the epochal transformation

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  • Medieval 151

    of the 1530s. A second novelty is reflected in the volume's structure and organization. By contrast with Otway-Ruthven's narrative framework, the narrative chapters here are complemented by a series of sche- matic studies on topics that could not receive adequate treatment within the framework of a mainline political survey: historical geography by Robin Glasscock; socio- economic structure by Kevin Downey; overseas trade by Wendy Childs and Timothy O'Neill; Irish language and literature by James Carney; Anglo-Norman and English language and literature by Alan Bliss and Joseph Long; architecture and sculpture by Edwin Roe; manuscripts and illumination by Francoise Henry and Genevieve Marsh-Micheli; and coinage by Michael Dolly. The most significant novelty that the comparison brings to light, however, relates to the conceptual frame of reference. In that regard Otway-Ruthven's volume represents a historiographical tradition that stemmed from the work of Goddard Orpen in the opening decades of the century, a tradition in which the Anglo-Norman invasion of the twelfth-century and the introduction of the Normans' version of feudalism are presented as the forces of modernization and a tradition that, in consequence, tends to conceive the history of medieval Ireland thenceforward as the his- tory of the lordship established under the crown of England. By far the most important historiographical innovation of this volume is to present an alternative to such a reductionist conception. What is attempted is an integrated account of the history of the "two nations"- the indigenous Gaelic and the Anglo-Irish-whose destinies became inextricably intertwined by virtue of the twelfth-century invasion. In that respect the vol- ume represents the revival of a project launched by Edmund Curtis in 1923 and subsequently sidetracked under the impetus of a revisionist reaction against nationalistically inspired historiography. This new his- tory reflects a growing maturity in Irish historical scholarship, its development beyond the callow revi- sionism that characterized much historical writing over the past half-century, and a new awareness of the need to construct an interpretive frame capable of accom- modating all of the ethnic groups who have molded the history of the modern Irish nation.


    Queens' College Cambridge, England

    WILLIAM CHESTER JORDAN. The French Monarch