This a introductory bibliography of some the primary sources which have information on the medieval fortification of England and Wales.
Strictly speaking most of these sources are edited transcripts and, often, translations of the original handwritten documents, which are precious and difficult to access. If access to the actual primary source is required this will almost certainly require a visit to an archive (Although some archive offer copying services). The most important archive is The National Archive, the UK government's official archive, at Kew near London. This also has information and databases of other archives holding primary sources.
With increasing numbers of texts being scanned and made available online it is now possible to do much research from the home or office. However for fully comprehensive and thorough research a trip to a good university library will still almost certainly be required or, better still for those for whom it is possible, a visit to The British Library.
Much of the information below is derived from the Medieval Genealogy1 website.
Reading medieval documents requires a knowledge of medieval latin, Norman French and Old English as well as an idea of scribally styles and the numerous abbreviations used.
- Martin contains several useful wordlists including Latin versions of British placenames
- The Orb: The on-line Reference Book for Medieval Studies has a Latin Word List.
- The authoritive academic text is R.E. Latham, 1980 (revised edition with supplement first published 1965), Revised Medieval Latin word-List from British and Irish Sources (Oxford University Press)
- The Anglo-Norman Online Hub has an Anglo-Norman Dictionary of Latin and Norman-French words found in primary sources.
The Domesday Book
Despite several notices otherwise there is currently no direct freely available online versions of the Domesday Book (The electronic domesday dataset by John Palmer is said to be available and forms the bases to Open Domesday) . Copies, transcriptions and translations of various parts exist in piecemeal fashion in some editions of the Victoria County Histories.
Chancery and Exchequer Rolls
The many and various royal records of England and its dominions. Medieval Genealogy has a page giving a brief outlines of Public Records. It also has a page of 'Medieval source material on the internet' with a vast amount of well researched links to online scanned books with regularly maintain links. The bias is genealogical but that can also be said on the medieval writers themselves.
Scans of large number of the original Exchequer Rolls, held in the National Archives, are available online from Anglo-American Legal Tradition (University of Houston O'Quinn Law Library). For the purist historian these are invaluable but require a detailed knowledge of medieval latin and palaeography.
- Charter Rolls are calendared in English translation in 6 volumes. Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 5 are available online (see Medieval Genealogy). Rotuli Chartarum in Turri Londinensi Asservati (Thomas Duffus Hardy's 1837 calendar of charters from 1199-1216) is not freely available but can be purchased online. The British Library has a full website for Magna Carta. The Carta de Foresta (Charter of the Forest) is transcribed online by Dr John Langton of St John's College Research Centre, University of Oxford.
- Patent Rolls. Calendared mainly in English translation (The first two calendars of Henry III are in Latin). The calendars from 1216-1452 are available as scanned and searchable pdfs from Search Calendar of Patent Rolls2. These calendars and the calendars of Patent Rolls up to Philip and Mary are also available online (see Medieval Genealogy). The Patent Rolls of Henry VIII were calendared rather differently and were published in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII and are freely available from British History Online.
The Patent Rolls of King John were calendared in 1835 in Latin, and in Record Type3, as Rotuli Litterarum Patentium in Turri Londinensi Asservati. This can be found with other useful information in The Itinerary of King John.
- Close Rolls of Henry III to Edward IV were calendared and are available online freely (see Medieval Genealogy) or, for a fee, in a more searchable format and up to Henry VII, from British History Online. The Close Rolls of King John were calendared as Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum in Turri Londinensi Asservati by T. Duffus Hardy in 1833, for the Record Commission, but this work, in Record Type, has not yet been scanned and made available online.
- Fine Rolls from Edward I to Henry VI were calendared and scanned copies are available (see Medieval Genealogy). The Fine Rolls of Henry III are actively being calendared but are mainly available at Henry III Fine Rolls Project.
- Liberate Rolls from 1240-1267 as scans (see Medieval Genealogy).
- Parliament Rolls. The very old (late C18) calendars are freely available (see Medieval Genealogy) but more useful is the modern calendar, by Chris Given-Wilson et al, available in hard copy and online as PROME (The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England) or from British History Online, although both these resources require a fee.
- The Calendar of various chancery rolls: supplementary close rolls, Welsh rolls, scutage rolls. A.D. 1277-1326 is available online (see Medieval Genealogy).
- Thomas Rymer's Foedera, conventiones, literae, et cujuscunque generis acta publica is a selection of royal documents made over 300 years ago but retains some importance because the transcription done by Rymer was very full and later calendar's often refer to his transcriptions. Scans of a French 3rd edition and of Thomas Duffus Hardy's Syllabus (in English) of the documents relating to England and other kingdoms contained in the collection known as "Rymer's Foedera." can be found via Internet Archive.
- The Pipe Roll Society have been publishing the Pipe Rolls and other primary sources for over a hundred years. The early volumes are available online (see Medieval Genealogy and Pipe Roll Society).
- Inquisitions post mortem (see Medieval Genealogy).
- Land taxes and feudal surveys such as the Liber Feodorum (The Book of Nevill). Some of these are calendared and available online but only a few regional selections from the Hundred Rolls (see Medieval Genealogy).
This is a selection of the most important primary sources for England and Wales. However, some royal business conducted in France concerned English castles and towns but is calendared in Gascon Rolls. This is less true for the various Irish calendars but thorough research would require examination of these. Work is currently ongoing to produce online versions of the Gascon Rolls. An online version of the Irish Rolls have recently been reconstructed from earlier calendars etc..
None Royal Charters, Deeds, Wills etc.
- Medieval Genealogy lists and links to those available online here, here and here. These consist of a great number of sites and thousands of documents although how easy it is find a specific document remains an open question.
- The Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub has searchable transcriptions of a number of texts (i.e. The Oak Book of Southampton; The Percy Chartulary etc.)
Contemporary Medieval Historical Accounts.
Contemporary Historical accounts were gerenally written by Churchmen, most of whom would have been relatives to military men, and focus on military and political events. Thus they tend to overemphasis the importance of military and political events. Generally accounts were also written by people attached to a particular party, usually the royalist group, although there was a reasonable tradition of 'truthful' reporting.
- The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Transcribed version of the James Ingram edition. (But serious student should consult the newer translations)
- Sewell, Richard Clarke, 1846, Gesta Stephani (But serious students should consult Potter, K.R., 1976, Gesta Stephani (Oxford Univesity Press); see also Speight, Sarah, 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' Chateau Gaillard Vol. 19)
- Matthew Paris's Historia Anglorum Vol. 1; Vol. 2; Vol. 3. (The Rolls series editions edited by Frederic Madden)
- The Greater Chronicle of Gervase of Canterbury (The Rolls series edition by William Stubbs)
- John Williams (ed), 1860, Annales Cambriae
- The Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub has searchable transcriptions of a number of texts (i.e. The Crusade and Death of Richard I; The War of Saint-Sardos (1323-1325) Gascon Correspondence and Diplomatic Documents etc.)
- Not an historical account but a vibrant insight into medieval life is Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. A first and second edition of Caxton's printed version can be fully viewed and searched at the British Library Treasures in Full.
Antiquarian accounts of the 16th and early 17th centuries can be of considerable interest and some value if used with care;
- John Leland's Itinerary in both the older Thomas Hearne editions and the Toulmin Smith editions is available as scanned copies online from Internet Archive.
- William Camden's Britannia is online as a hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton of the 1607 edition with the Philemon Holland's 1610 translation.
- John Stow's late 16th century Survey of London (The 1908 reprint of the 1603 edition, edited by C.L. Kingsford) is available from British History online.
- John Speed's The theatre of the empire of Great Britaine: presenting an exact geography of the kingdomes of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the iles adioyning: with the shires, hundreds, cities and shire-townes, within ye kingdome of England has maps from the first years of the 17th century, particularly useful being the plans of county towns some of which can be seen on Prof. M. Horowitz's website.
- Celia Fiennes' Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary is an interesting if somewhat limited account. Vision of Britain has an online transcription of an 1888 edition.
- The most important of the antiquarian authors is William Dugdale, although his high standards of scholarship and proper reference to primary sources may arguably make him the first of modern historians. Apart for his scholarship his importance lies in the fact he had access to the royal rolls (and other primary sources) at an early date when they may have been in better states of preservation. His The Antiquities of Warwickshire (1656; Thomas Warren) is online via Internet Archive. The multi-volume Monasticon Anglicanum, originally published 1655-73, is available (as the 1817-30 version edited by Caley, Ellis and Bandinel) in an awkward format from Monastic Martix.