Bridges, Law and Power in Medieval England, 700-1400

Overview

From the time of Alfred the Great until beyond the end of the Middle Ages, bridges were vital to the rulers and people of England, but they were expensive and difficult to maintain. Who then was responsible for their upkeep? The answer to this question changes over the centuries, and the way in which it changes reveals much about law and power in medieval England. The development of law concerning the maintenance of bridges did not follow a straightforward line: legal ideas developed by the Anglo-Saxons, which ...

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Overview

From the time of Alfred the Great until beyond the end of the Middle Ages, bridges were vital to the rulers and people of England, but they were expensive and difficult to maintain. Who then was responsible for their upkeep? The answer to this question changes over the centuries, and the way in which it changes reveals much about law and power in medieval England. The development of law concerning the maintenance of bridges did not follow a straightforward line: legal ideas developed by the Anglo-Saxons, which had made the first age of bridge building possible, were rejected by the Normans, and royal lawyers of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries had to find new solutions to the problem. The fate of famous bridges, especially London Bridge, shows the way in which the spiritual, historical and entrepreneurial imagination was pressed into service to find solutions; the fate of humbler bridges shows the urgency with which this problem was debated across the country. By concentrating on this aspect of practical governance and tracing it through the course of the Middle Ages, much is shown about the limitations of royal power and the creativity of the medieval legal mind. ALAN COOPER is Assistant Professor of History at Colgate University.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843832751
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 11/16/2006
  • Pages: 198
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents


List of Figures     viii
Acknowledgements     ix
Abbreviations     xi
Introduction     1
Bridge-work, but No Bridges: St Boniface and the Origins of the Common Burdens     8
Viking Wars, Public Peace: The Evolution of Bridge-work     39
'As Free as the King Could Grant': The End of Communal Bridge-work     66
Three Solutions     80
Conclusion     149
The Gumley Charter of 749     153
Grants of Pontage up to 1400     155
Bibliography     169
Index     183
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