8 July 2009

New archive resource: Ancient Petitions (Henry III - James I)

The July edition of BBC History Magazine includes a useful article on a rich archival resource recently made available online by National Archives. Ancient Petitions (covering the reigns of Henry III to James I) were "addressed to the king, to the king and council, to the king and council in parliament, to the chancellor, and to certain other officers of state. The petitions include detailed information about the circumstances of the parties involved, and the conditions of the locality." There are two categories of petitions: one set ask for the redress of grievances which could not be resolved at common law; the others are straightforward requests for a grant of favour.

All 17,000 petitions have been catalogued and scanned so you can search for places and people of interest and download a PDF version of the originals for free! Approximately 450 petitions relate to Nottinghamshire. Quite a number are complaints about violence: for example, in 1319 Walter de Toutheby claimed that John, son of William de Gaitford, attacked him and his men near Worksop, and beat and wounded his men even after they surrendered to him, so that some of them will never recover. Medieval Nottinghamshire was clearly a very violent place!


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