Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
War, Politics and People: England in Context in the Fourteenth Century
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Open examination  2500 word open examination.  50%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  2500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  2500 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Open examination  2500 word open examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic, political, and religious history of England in the 14th century.

Demonstrate an understanding of the historiographical debates on the social, economic, political, and religious history of England in the 14th century.

Identify and evaluate a wide range of relevant primary and secondary material.

Demonstrate an ability to analyse and deploy relevant historical evidence to produce appropriate arguments.

Brief description

The fourteenth century was one of the most turbulent in English history: conflict within Britain, war with France, famine, disease, rebellion and regicide. But it also witnessed the development of parliament, significant social change and the virtual end of serfdom, and a flowering of vernacular literature. This module will address a number of key issues and questions relating to the period. Was it an ‘Age of Chivalry’? How did peasants cope with famine and men and women react to the death of half their neighbours? Did people really care about the military exploits of kings and nobles? What led labourers and craftsmen to behead an archbishop and threaten a king?


This module introduces students to a range of issues relating to social, economic, political and religious history in the long 14th century through the framework of lectures, and enables them to explore certain themes in greater depth through seminars. While royal governance and international politics will be considered, the emphasis will be on society as a whole.


1. Setting the scene: England, Britain and Europe c. 1300
2. Barons and bond-men: the structures of English society
3. The old lion: the last years of Edward I
4. An ‘incompetent king’: the reign of Edward II
5. Murderous nobles and a chivalrous king: 1326-46
6. 100 years of conflict: war with France
7. King Death: famine, plague, economy and society
8. From Poitiers to the Good Parliament: 1356-76
9. Governing the realm: the development of parliament in the 14th century
10. ‘No wrestling in the churchyard’: church and people in the 14th century
11. Succession and revolt: 1377-81
12. The reign of Richard II
13. Uneasy lies the head: the fall of Richard II and accession of Henry IV
14. Tax, trade and tilling the fields: economy and society after the Black Death
15. Worthy burgesses and unruly apprentices: towns in 14th century England
16. ‘A plain full of people’: social change in the 14th century
17. The look of things: architecture, technology and material culture in the long 14th century
18. Overview

1. An ‘Age of Chivalry’? War and the chivalric ideal in the 14th century
2. ‘No wrestling in the churchyard’: popular piety and religious dissent
3. ‘When Adam delved and Eve spun’: the Black Death and English society
4. Revolting Peasants: the Great Revolt of 1381

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination
Subject Specific Skills Students will gain a thorough understanding, through extensive work in relevant primary sources, of this critical period in English history.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 5