Louisa Foroughi, a Ph.D. candidate in medieval history, was awarded the 2019 Dissertation Fellowship by the National Conference of British Studies (NACBS), a competition open to all those doing dissertation research in the British Isles on any topic of British (including Scottish, Irish and Imperial) history or British Studies. Fordham University). The citation at the annual meeting of the NACBS in November 2019 in Vancouver reads as follows.
Foroughi’s dissertation, “What Makes a Yeoman? Status, Religion, and Material Culture in Later Medieval England,” examines the English yeomanry from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries. Yeoman, she explains, occupied a middling rank in late-medieval England, above the peasantry but beneath the gentry, and its numbers and significance rose throughout the fifteenth century. Through the examination of court records, wills and testaments, and case studies, Foroughi reveals the role of both material culture and religious belief in the making of this social group previously more familiar to early modernists.
Most importantly, Foroughi has developed a series of questions – and ways to go about answering them – that recover the role of women and gender in the yeomanry’s making – something that was not high on the list of historians’ priorities in 1942, the last time the yeomanry figured as the subject of a comparable monograph. Yet the yeomanry’s position, Foroughi shows, was only made possible through the dowries brought by wives and daughters, the values transmitted from mothers to children, and the maintenance of households that partly depended upon women’s labor. To recover these aspects of late medieval and early modern social history, Foroughi’s dissertation ingeniously draws upon literary studies, religious studies, and anthropology, in order to make visible the role of women and of gender in the making of the English yeoman class.
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Ronald Braasch recently published an article titled: “The Skirmish: A Statistical Analysis of Minor Combats During the Hundred Years’ War, 1337-1453”in the Journal of Medieval Military History XVI (June, 2018). Ron is seeking to shed light on a neglected aspect of medieval warfare and discover what impact these smaller fights had on the conduct of warfare during the Hundred Years’ War. Skirmishes existed somewhere between a battle and duel, occurred during all varieties of locations and environments, and formed an integral martial function between medieval combatants. Moreover, skirmishes were a common feature during the Hundred Years’ War as the chroniclers wrote so much about them. As a case study, Ron’s work examines the chronicles of Jean le Bel, Jean Froissart, Enguerrand de Monstrelet, and Matthieu d’Escouchy, whose narratives collectively span the entirety of the conflict. By examining chronicles quantitatively, Ron’s research indicates that the outcomes of skirmishes could influence the strategies of military leaders and that indiscipline was a key component in French military losses against English, Burgundian, and various other opponents. Ron is entering the first year of his PhD in History, where he is studying the roles of combat support personnel in the armies of Edward III.
Full Citation: “The Skirmish: A Statistical Analysis of Minor Combats During the Hundred Years’ War, 1337-1453.”Journal of Medieval Military History XVI, (June, 2018): 123-157.
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Esther Liberman Cuenca, PhD candidate in History, recently published an article in Urban History (Cambridge University Press) titled “Town clerks and the authorship of custumals in medieval England”. Below is her abstract and a link to the article.
This article examines the expertise and duties of clerks in medieval English towns, particularly their roles in creating custumals, or collections of written customs. Customs could regulate trade, of ce-holding, prostitution and even public nuisance. Many clerks were anonymous, and their contributions to custumals understudied. The careers of relatively well-known clerks, however, do provide insights into how some clerks shaped custumals into civic repositories of customary law. By analysing their oaths and known administrative practices, which involved adapting material from older custumals, this article argues that town clerks played critical roles in transmitting customary law to future generations of administrators.
On April 24th and 25th, the History Department sponsored the Medieval England Conference that showcased the research done in the Graduate ProSeminar Course led by Dr. Maryanne Kowaleski. This conference included papers by members of the History Department, as well as the Center for Medieval Studies. Patrick DeBrosse, Rachel Podd, Amanda Racine, and Ron Braasch were the 3 doctoral and master’s students, respectively, that presented their research. See a list of all the presentations, as well as some pictures, below. Continue reading →
Students in Fordham’s MA and PhD programs produce original research of the highest quality, and are encouraged to publish this work when and where it is appropriate during their time in the program. The academic year 2016-2017 saw the appearance of articles by a number of our students in different peer-reviewed volumes and journals. We asked our students who published their work to tell us a little bit about the articles and the writing process and we’ll feature these students and their publications in a short blog series.
Louisa’s work puts two heretical tracts from fifteenth-century England into their social and religious context. These two tracts were likely written as part of a series of debates over bible translation that took place at Oxford in the late fourteenth century, sparked by the reformer John Wyclif. His ideas and the English bible produced by his followers were both condemned as heretical by Archbishop Arundel in 1407, but, as Louisa’s work shows, interest in and desire for an English bible continued through the end of the fifteenth century.
The story of how Louisa came to write this piece is a tale of true interdisciplinarity, and it underscores the dynamic nature of medieval studies at Fordham. Louisa found these tracts, one of them previously unknown to scholars, during a manuscript studies class led by Dr. Susanne Hafner that she took in the first semester of her master’s degree at Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies. She subsequently presented a talk about the tracts at a conference organized at Fordham by J. Patrick Hornbeck II of Fordham’s Department of Theology and Michael van Dussen of McGill University, and her work was published in the peer-reviewed edited collection of papers that developed out of that conference. Louisa’s archival research on the owners of the tracts during summer 2014 led her to develop a dissertation project that explores the tastes and self-construction of yeomen in late medieval England, a project that has been generously funded by Fordham’s History Department and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Congrats, Louisa! We look forward to reading about more exciting discoveries from the archives.
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(l-r) Wolfgang Mueller, Kristin Uscinski, David Myers and Maryanne Kowaleski
This past week Kristin Uscinski successfully defended her dissertation, entitled “Recipes for Women’s Healthcare in Medieval England”. Kristin’s mentor was Professor Maryanne Kowaleski, her readers were Professors Wolfgang Mueller and David Myers and Examiners were Professors Claire Gherini and Nicholas Paul.
Thanks to the History Department’s Leahey fellowship for summer travel, graduate student and medievalist Louisa Foroughi was able to spend five weeks in June and July visiting archives in England and Scotland (with a very brief Welsh detour!). Louisa’s dissertation focuses on the origins and social significance of the English “yeomen,” a group situated at the mid-point of the social scale, who made their first appearance in the early fifteenth century and quickly rose to prominence under the Tudors. She spent ten days in London and Chester tracking down a yeomen family from a small town near Chester, during which time she snuck in a quick jaunt across the Welsh border, a mere 30 minute walk from the city walls! She spent a further two weeks gathering probate records in local record offices in Norwich, Bury St. Edmunds, and Ipswich, all favorite haunts. She is now in possession of c. 377 wills and inventories produced by husbandmen, yeomen, and gentlemen from 1348-1538, one of the three main document times upon which her dissertation will be based. While in England, Louisa also presented a paper on Archbishops’ Registers at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds and attended the Anglo-American Seminar with Professor Maryanne Kowaleski. She is happy to be back in the US, and looks forward to finally being able to answer the question, “what is a yeomen?”
This Friday at 3:00 p.m., Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies and the New York Botanical Garden are pleased to host Professor Robin Fleming of Boston College, recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the “genius grant”), for her talk “Vanishing Plants, Animals, and Places: Britain’s Transformation from Roman to Medieval,” which uses material culture and environmental history to reveal heretofore unknown aspects of early medieval Britain. Due to the paucity of contemporary written sources, Fleming’s alternative approach, part of an emerging trend in research on the period, ought to provide truly novel insight. Appropriately, the talk will take place at the Mertz Library in the New York Botanical Garden and will be followed by an exhibit of medieval and early modern herbals. This opportunity is not to be missed! Event details below:
Vanishing Plants, Animals, and Places: Britain’s Transformation from Roman to Medieval
Humanities Institute, Mertz Library, New York Botanical Garden
Friday, September 30, 3:00 pm
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