Session Title

Crisis, Corruption, and Entropy: England, ca. 1250-1450

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Jack Newman

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Kent

Presider Name

Jeremy Piercy

Presider Affiliation

Univ. of Edinburgh

Paper Title 1

Fleecing the System: English Crown Corruption in the Early Fourteenth Century

Presenter 1 Name

Jack Newman

Paper Title 2

"Many More Myscheves": Ferries, Tolls, and Transportation Costs in Late Medieval England

Presenter 2 Name

Stephen Powell

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Rutgers Univ.

Paper Title 3

Advising the Monarch in Ricardian London: Accroaching Royal Power and the Appropriation of Baronial Complaint

Presenter 3 Name

Daniella Gonzalez

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Kent

Paper Title 4

Corruption by Another Name? Wycliffite Solutions and the Plight of the Poor

Presenter 4 Name

Hannah Kirby Wood

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Centre for Medieval Studies, Univ. of Toronto

Start Date

12-5-2019 8:30 AM

Session Location

Bernhard 204

Description

The contemporary conception of corruption as simply an abuse of public office for private gain is not one which would be clearly recognisable in the Middle Ages. Rather corruption in this period is best viewed as a physical and moral decay from a perceived prior ideal. Likewise, entropy – a term first coined in the nineteenth century – has a variety of semantic interpretations, the most relevant of which captures the biological elements inherent in earlier conceptions of corruption. This conception includes the degradation of a system by agents and elements which combine to catalyse change and create new previously unknown possibilities. Processes of corruption and anti-corruption can be understood as precipitating change throughout in the Middle Ages and into the modern period. Complaint relating to corruption was often used as a justification for resistance which took both violent and non-violent forms, particularly in the Peasants Revolt of 1381, in Bristol from 1312-1316, but also in contemporary examples such as the Arab Spring. This moral decay of officials and systems in England during the later middle ages which drove change is the subject for this panel.

This session will provide a platform for the discussion of issues relating to corruption in the later Middle Ages. Until recent years corruption and anti-corruption have usually been explored as addenda to more traditional institutional studies. Medievalists such as William Chester Jordan, Gwilym Dodd, and Guy Geltner have begun to treat the field as one worthy of more focused attention. However, there is little research into English corruption in the period in question. Modern governance studies have called for more research into the context in which anti-corruption institutions arose as a potential for future anti-corruption practices in the developing world. These papers will provide a range of case-studies of corruption and anti-corruption practices within the context of fourteenth and fifteenth century England. Jack Newman

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May 12th, 8:30 AM

Crisis, Corruption, and Entropy: England, ca. 1250-1450

Bernhard 204

The contemporary conception of corruption as simply an abuse of public office for private gain is not one which would be clearly recognisable in the Middle Ages. Rather corruption in this period is best viewed as a physical and moral decay from a perceived prior ideal. Likewise, entropy – a term first coined in the nineteenth century – has a variety of semantic interpretations, the most relevant of which captures the biological elements inherent in earlier conceptions of corruption. This conception includes the degradation of a system by agents and elements which combine to catalyse change and create new previously unknown possibilities. Processes of corruption and anti-corruption can be understood as precipitating change throughout in the Middle Ages and into the modern period. Complaint relating to corruption was often used as a justification for resistance which took both violent and non-violent forms, particularly in the Peasants Revolt of 1381, in Bristol from 1312-1316, but also in contemporary examples such as the Arab Spring. This moral decay of officials and systems in England during the later middle ages which drove change is the subject for this panel.

This session will provide a platform for the discussion of issues relating to corruption in the later Middle Ages. Until recent years corruption and anti-corruption have usually been explored as addenda to more traditional institutional studies. Medievalists such as William Chester Jordan, Gwilym Dodd, and Guy Geltner have begun to treat the field as one worthy of more focused attention. However, there is little research into English corruption in the period in question. Modern governance studies have called for more research into the context in which anti-corruption institutions arose as a potential for future anti-corruption practices in the developing world. These papers will provide a range of case-studies of corruption and anti-corruption practices within the context of fourteenth and fifteenth century England. Jack Newman