Master Values of Town Life

Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In social history, actors without ideas are empty, just as ideas without actors are blind. This chapter tries to construct some of the cultural assumptions of the later medieval town in order to fill up some of its actors and give sight to its ideas.This attempt to examine part of the cultural habitus, to extract the common mind from nonlocal sources, requires only a little justification, for while we can never be sure without examination that ‘elite’ ideas have a direct and large impact on popular notions, historians have for a long time made important use of such materials. The social self demands it, for this is the concrete acknowledgment that consciousness matters, that people have ideas upon which they draw when making their decisions. This does not mean that there are not considerable difficulties in trying to determine what the sources tell us and how far we repeat the goals of the dominant in repeating their texts. But from Sylvia Thrupp through Rodney Hilton and Philippa Maddern to Fifteenth-Century Attitudes and Marjorie McIntosh’s Controlling Misbehavior in England, medieval historians have helped to display the mind of the matter in ways that allow us to see better what it all meant.1


Fifteenth Century Religious Trust Malicious Peer Canterbury Tale Medieval Historian 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Sylvia Thrupp, The Merchant Class of Medieval London (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1948);Google Scholar
  2. Marjorie McIntosh, Controlling Misbehavior in England (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ann Hoeppner, The Growth of English Schooling, 1340–1548: Learning, Literacy and Laicisation in pre-Reformation York Diocese (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985);Google Scholar
  4. Anne Hudson, The Premature Reformation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 174–211,Google Scholar
  5. F. Pollock and F.W. Maitland, The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I, 2nd edition (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1967), pp. 188–203.Google Scholar
  6. 29.
    Craig Muldrew, “Interpreting the Market: the ethics of credit and community relations in early modern England,” Social History 18 (1993): 177 and generally, 163–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 30.
    Gervase Rosser, with E. Patricia Dennison, “Urban Culture and the Church,” Cambridge Urban History of Britain, ed. David Palliser (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 368.Google Scholar
  8. 41.
    Barbara Hanawalt, “Keepers of the Lights: Later Medieval Parish Guilds,” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 14 (1984): 21–37;Google Scholar
  9. A.G. Rosser, “Communities of Parish and Guild in the Late Middle Ages,” in Parish, Church, and People, ed. S.J. Wright (London: Hutchinson, 1988), pp. 29–55;Google Scholar
  10. Katherine L. French, “Maiden’s Lights and Wives’ Stores: Women’s Parish Guilds in Late Medieval England,” Sixteenth-Century Journal 29 (1998): 399–425;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ben R. McRee, “Charity and Gild Solidarity in Late Medieval England,” Journal of British Studies 32 (1993): 195–225;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 42.
    Julian Pitt-Rivers, The Fate of Shechem, or the Politics of Sex (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), pp. 94–112;Google Scholar
  13. A.G. Rosser,”Going to The Fraternity Feast: Commensality and Social Relations in Late Medieval England,” Journal of British Studies 33 (1994): 430–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Barbara Hanawalt, Growing up in Medieval hondon (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 129–72;Google Scholar
  15. A.O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936)Google Scholar
  16. 86.
    See K.L. Kurtz, The Dance of Death and the Macabre Spirit in European Literature (New York: Columbia University, 1934);Google Scholar
  17. Paul Binski, Medieval Death. Ritual and Representation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), pp. 153–59;Google Scholar
  18. 96.
    Maurice Keen, English Society in the Later Middle Ages, 1348–1500 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990), pp. 1–24;Google Scholar
  19. Rodney Hilton, “Ideology and Social Order in Late Medieval England,” in Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism, 2nd ed. (London: Verso, 1990), pp. 173–79.Google Scholar
  20. Kathleen Biddick, “Genders, Bodies, Borders:Technologies of the Visible” Speculum 68 (1993): 389–418;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 101.
    Thomas Hoccleve, Hoccleve’s Works, I, The Minor Poems, ed. Frederick H. Furnivall (EETS 61, 1892), p. 135.Google Scholar
  22. Bridget Ann Henisch, Fast and Feast (University Park, Pa: Pennslyvania State University Press, 1976), p. 158.Google Scholar
  23. Georges Duby, The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980);Google Scholar
  24. Alexander Murray, Reason and Society in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978);Google Scholar
  25. Jill Mann, Chaucer and Medieval Estates Satire: the Literature of Social Classes in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 118.
    Thomas Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, II, ed. Henry T. Riley (London: RS 28, 1864), p. 32.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Gary Shaw 2005

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations