Medieval Domesticity: Home, Housing and Household
25th Annual Medieval Studies Conference
Saturday March 12-Sunday March 13, 2005
Seasons and Ceremonies: The Royal Household and the Ritual Year in Fourteenth-Century England

W. Mark Ormrod, University of York

This paper will address the question of how the fourteenth-century English royal household organised the ‘ritual year’ in relation to the liturgical and legal calendars and the exigencies of war and politics. Much previous work has been done on the pious household, especially in the high-status setting of aristocratic women, and there is a good deal of innovative research on the ‘ritual year’ in relation to popular culture and urban society. However, the annual cycles of fast and feast, term and vacation, parliament and council, campaign and celebration, have been oddly neglected and a historiographical emphasis on the finances, personnel, logistics and culture of the royal household has led us to think institutionally rather than rythmically. This paper will attempt to redress the balance specifically in relation to the possibility that the second half of the reign of Edward III may have seen one of the earliest examples of a definitive ‘season’ of court-based social, sporting and cultural activity. It therefore aims to counter some of the assumptions of early modern court studies (often perpetuated by medievalists) that the ‘court’ in the sense of a social season did not exist before the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. The paper draws in particular on detailed unpublished research on Edward III’s itinerary, his household accounts, and on his ritual centre of Windsor Castle.

Conference Program
Hotel and Travel Information