Minorities under English Rule: Flemish in England and Gaels in English Ireland, 1150-1300

01 October 2020 → 30 September 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • European history
    • Medieval history
    • Postcolonial studies
  • Social sciences
    • Comparative law
    • History of law
legal and social comparison of medieval minorities
Project description

The histories of medieval Flanders and Ireland are usually examined by historians from different perspectives, but the treatment, status, and perception of the Flemish in twelfth-century England has remarkable similarities with the Gaelic Irish in twelfth- and thirteenth-century English Ireland. Both were considered inferior to, yet also more violent than, the English. Both were political minorities. But within these two groups were 'accepted' individuals, people who were not othered by the English. This project will determine the legal and social statuses of the two groups through a comparative analysis of legal and social records. The aims are to explore, using an interdisciplinary methodology, the similarities and contrast between the instances when members of the two groups, Flemings in England and Gaels in English Ireland, were accepted by the English and allowed to use the royal courts and hold lands in fee. The second aim is to analyse when and how the Flemings and Gaels were rejected by the English. The study will delve into the twelfth-century phenomenon of a 'hardening' English identity which othered peoples, compare the rhetoric with legal and social records to determine its effects, and demonstrate the commonalities between Irish and Flemish peoples. This project bridges a gap between Insular and Continental studies and between the histories of medieval Flanders, England, and Ireland.