Medieval Kingship
with Dr Rosemary Horrox (University of Cambridge)
at Sutton Hoo on Saturday, 1st October 2016.


This study day explores what was expected of medieval English kings and whether it changed across the period.

It will be structured around the oaths taken by medieval kings at their coronation, and will ask what these entailed and what happened when kings failed to live up to them.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:          Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:          We will begin by considering what we mean by a personal monarchy, and the look briefly at the king’s obligation to defend the church.

11.15 – 11.40:          Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:          The maintenance of law and order, and the defence of the realm.

12.40 – 14.00:          Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:          “The maintenance of peace inwards and outwards” (writer Sir John Fortescue, 15th century).

14.50 – 15.10:          Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:          The final session takes its theme from an additional oath imposed on Edward II: “to uphold the rightful customs that the community of the realm shall have chosen”, and looks at the options open to critics of the crown when the king failed in his responsibilities.

c.16.00:                   Thanks and Close

About Dr Rosemary Horrox

Rosemary Horrox MA PhD FRHistS is Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.  She is the author or editor of a range of works on medieval England, including Richard III: a study of service; The Black Death; Fifteenth-century Attitudes: perceptions of society in late medieval England.


When asked ‘What was best about the day?’ at a previous Study Day by Rosemary people said:

  • Rosemary Horrox’s humour plus depth of knowledge
  • The speaker – excellent speaker very knowledgeable and entertaining
  • Very informative with amusing asides
  • Really excellent speaker – she used no notes, no slides but riveting
  • Having a brilliant speaker without any distractions from slides etc
  • Being back listening to a university lecturer when one is very old.  A very interesting lecture by an excellent speaker
  • Dr Horrox’s relaxed manner
  • Ability to hold attention entirely through spoken (and written) word – no power-point – clarity in a complex subject

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

All of the kings to be discussed are now the subject of

individual studies in the Yale English Monarchs series, but these tend to be huge and not for the faint-hearted.

The new Penguin series of short discussions of individual reigns is much more accessible, but not all the volumes have yet appeared and coverage of the middle ages is still patchy.