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England in the Later Middle Ages: A Political History

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England in the Later Middle Ages: A Political History
Second Edition. By Maurice H. Keen. (London & New York, Routledge: 2003. Pg. xii, 487.) ISBN: 0-415-27293-9.

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - March 8, 2004

Few history texts stand the test of time. One of the reasons for this is that history books are often supplanted by newer works based on newly discovered information or changes in the accepted historiograpic methodology on a given period. More often, these books simply fall out of favor due to the difficulty in obtaining copies for classroom use. One book that has stood the test of time is Maurice Keen's England in the Later Middle Ages.

Originally published in 1973, England in the Later Middle Ages quickly became the standard text on English history from 1290-1485. Written in an engaging and enthralling style, the text has been well received by college students. Authoritative, well organized, and easy to work from, it is also a favorite with many instructors. The newly released second edition of this wonderful text has been fully updated and revised. For those familiar with the original edition, you will find that a great deal of new information has been added to this new edition. One of the biggest changes between the first and second editions of this text is that in the new edition, the number of footnotes has been drastically reduced.

Extensively a political history of this period, it includes details regarding the organization of the English political structure, and England's internal and external political policies. Economic and social issues that influenced England's political policies, such as the upheaval caused by the outbreaks of bubonic plague, are discussed in detailed. The role of the Church in English politics is also discussed in detail. As well, a large portion of the text is given over to the great wars of the periods, including the English conflicts with France and Scotland, the Hundred Year's War, and The Wars of the Roses. An extensive bibliography, as well as maps and genealogical tables are also included.

England in the Later Middle Ages is an excellent general survey textbook on this period. It can easily be used as a supplemental text in lower level survey courses in Mediaeval or English history, as well as in upper level and graduate courses as a general textbook on the subject. The text follows a chronological format, starting with the reign of Edward I in 1290, and concluding with an overview of England under the Yorkist.

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