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REVIEWS 205 community,containingsmallerurban or country communities,which came to embraceother communities in the BritishIslesand eventuallyimpinged upon more distantpeoples. Throughout,in seeking to expose the nature of this community,the author asksquestions, but he eschews the 'moderateracialism 'foundin somanyworks.'The nationaltypesof menare moreat home in romantic fictionthanin sociological thought'(p. 8). The difficulties facingthe professional historianwho embarksupon sucha taskareenormous, notleastwhenthewell-tramped world of Englishhistoryis underreview.The chapters dealingwith earlymodernsocietyare a little disappointing - one recallsthe analyticalfabric of someprevious worksfrom Clark'spen- but perhapsthisis alwaysthe casewhen writersgive a general pictureof theirownareaof specialisation. Certainly,he isfamiliar with mostof theproblems implicitin writinga single volumeassessment. One of theseisthat considered statements, behindwhichlie disputes or technicalities, may convey little to theuninitiated.It ishardto conceive precisely what thebeginner would obtainfromthedescription of JohnandMagna Carta,comments on 'puritans,' or the assessment of eighteenth-century politics.The brief treatmentof ship moneyillustrates the author'smethod.The romanceof constitutional myth is absent whenit isstatedthat thejudges decided rightlyagainstHampden,firmly labelledasa veryrichlandlord.It isacknowledged that hewas'lookeduponas a publicbenefactor,' but that isall. Yet thereisalwaysthe dangerthat readers may digestall this in the light of their own preconceived assumptions. Sir Georgeisclearlyawareof thisdifficultyand he handles it betterthan most.In exposing thestoryof England,heappreciates that differentpersons, evenbeginnersreadingthisbook ,will inevitably obtaina diverse picture.'Everyhuman being, eventhemostinsignificant, isa historical character, andsoknows history from the inside.He hasa country,a language, socialhabitsand beliefs,all of whichcarryalongwith themthelivingpast.We all knowmoreabouthistory thanwe areconscious of knowing,andwe canall learnby connecting together thisfragmentary and unappreciated knowledge. The surest way to acquirea graspofhistory istobeginwith whatweknowbest'(pp. 537-8). With chapters on 'AbortiveReconstruction' and 'Total War,' the bookends on a faint noteof pessimism, the authorleavinguswith a question mark over theloosened cements of society at theendof the x939-46 war.The littleselection of outlinemapsmightnot beadequate for all North Americanreaders - there are no illustrations - but otherwise thisclearlypresented work can be recommended tolayreaders andbeginning students, andthepriceisveryfair. w.J. JONES University o[Alberta The ReignofRichardII: Essays in Honourof May McKisack.Editedby Du•OULAY andC•tOLX•E •a.•m•ROta. London,AthlonePress, x97•. Pp.xvi, 335, illus.œ5.00. This volume is a warm and richly deservedtribute to an eminenthistorian. Thoughit iswrittenexclusively byEnglish scholars, it reflects an international 206 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW esteem. As the title shows, the editorsdecidedto groupits contents round a unitarytheme.Whetheror notthiswaswise,since it excluded some whomight havewished tocontribute, it stillincludes an impressive groupofwriters,andhas provided a Festschrift whichhasto beassessed asa wholein itsimpactonthe character andgovernment ofKing Richarda. The suggestion ismadeonthedustcoverthat theessays providematerialfor some modification ofthetraditional portraitof anineffectual anddespotic ruler. Mostclosely relatedtothisproblemarethescholarly andbalanced examination of Richard'ssystem of patronage,given by J.A. Tuck; the illuminatingand challenging account offoreign policy, byJ.J.N.Palmer;thediscussion ofliveries and commissions of the peace,by R.L. Storey;an outstanding analysisof Richard'squarrelwith London,by CarolineM. Barron;and threesurveys of government andsociety in localareas- EastAnglia,the Principalityof Chester, and the city of York. MargaretAstonhascrownedthe edificeby a survey of lastingvalue showinghow Tudor and Stuart writersregardedthe reign of Richardasthetruebeginning oftheWarsof theRoses. Otherpapers donotlinkupwith thiscentralproblem, but theydo,in various ways,helpto correctsome misunderstanding of the ethosof the period.Pierre Chaplais givesusa glimpse of sophisticated diplomatic procedures. V.H. Galbraithprovides stimulating, and perhaps evenprovocative, thoughts aboutthe Peasants' Revolt. BeatriceWhite shows how poetryand chroniclesupplement eachotherassources for social life.BarbaraHarveyandRosalind Hill bothwrite importantessays whichgiveusa betterinsightintothereligious outlookof the Londoners. Finally,F.R.H. Du Boulaytakesus far afield,campaigning with HenryofDerbyin Prussia, I39O-•. All these essays areofhighqualityandpermanent value.Howfar theydoserve tomodifythetraditionalportraitof thekingisperhaps an openquestion. They certainly underline hisintelligence, whichhasneverbeenseriously in doubt,but theydolittleornothing tostrengthen hisclaimtopoliticalacumen. Forinstance, it maybearguedthat peacewith Francein •396 wasa greatstepforward;but thedraftclause whereby Charles w promised to aid Richard,if needbe against hisown subjects, seems to havebeenvery realadroitto saythe least.It was similarin thisrespect, thoughit had evenless justification, to Richard'sfamous threattoseek aid,madein thebitterquarrelof 1388. In thelastyears ofhisreign, Richard wasequally extreme in hisuseofliveries andin hisappointments of commissions of thepeace.It isa pity that Dr Storey makes littleattempttoassess thecontribution hisactions madeto thecollapse of I399. In anotheraspectof government we are in a betterposition, after Dr Barron'silluminatingessay, to appreciatethe expertway in which Richard humiliatedthe Londoners between•39• and I397; this certainlyeasedhis finances, butat a veryheavycostin popularityandsupport. Similarly, we shall probably neverknowwhetheror not the kingseriously considered transferring hiscapitalfromWestminster andLondontoYork; butif hedid thiscanhardly beconstrued asa signof politicalintelligence. Finally,Richard...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 205-207
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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