Some aspects of the royal itinerary in twelfth-century England

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Any interpretation of the royal itinerary in the twelfth century has to begin with J.E.A. Jolliffe's chapter on the ‘King's Eyre’ in his Angevin Kingship. In that chapter, Jolliffe expressed his view of Angevin kingship in its daily acts of government as being characterised by ‘over-mastering strength … used equably with self-confidence’. It was ‘strength we take for granted’, he stated, as the Angevin kings ‘bludgeoned’ their financial servants – the sheriffs – into ‘honesty and solvency’. And this strength was in part made real by a ‘laborious co-ordination of court and country’ achieved through the process of the king and the court itinerating around the countryside. In Jolliffe's construct, the royal itinerary was a rational business entered into by a king determined to maintain ‘familiarity’ with those whom he had placed in administrative posts around his realm and to maintain relationships with the county communities of the land. ‘Never’ in the stirring words of Jolliffe, ‘was the Crown more constantly present to the nation, more acutely alive to every wind of politics, than in the sixty years between the accession of Henry II and the death of John.’ The royal itinerary of the Angevin kings was, moreover, a ‘steady’ progress – at twenty miles a day – as the king and his court travelled ‘by planned stages’ along the ‘administrative arteries’ of the realm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-45
Number of pages15
JournalThirteenth Century England
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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