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Welsh History Review

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Vol. 2, nos. 1-4 1964-65

Herbert correspondence : Book review.

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king and a rebellious commonalty. Edward I was mistrustful still, and
given to brusque experiment; established merchants lost the lucrative
Household contracts to aliens, while the vigorous economic changes
promoted by war brought wealth to new men. The suspension of the
city's liberties gave the challengers their chance, and the professional
administration, which gained strength all the time and was available and
indispensable to any party, ensured institutional continuity. When the
king withdrew his wardens the gilds were ready, and fed by continuous
immigration: their notions of citizenship, and thence of government,
carried the day.
In a study of this kind it is easier to write of institutions than of people;
the records reveal names in abundance, but very few persons. Although the
medieval Londoner looks much like his provincial cousin writ large and
sooner, Dr. Williams has succeeded very well in his efforts to discern men
as well as things. He has avoided parochialism effortlessly enough, and
if there are places where his narrative reads more dramatically even than
medieval life, these are not great blemishes. Nor are the inevitable
compressions, although they may make some readers wish that there were
more about such subjects as the early Commune and its antecedents or
the training of professional clerks. What matters is that we have here an
informed and detailed commentary upon our greatest town, at one of the
most significant stages of its growth.
G. H. MARTIN.
Leicester.
HERBERT CORRESPONDENCE: THE SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
LETTERS OF THE HERBERTS OF CHIRBURY, POWIS CASTLE, AND DOLGUOG,
FORMERLY AT POWIS CASTLE IN MONTGOMERYSHIRE. Edited by W. J.
Smith. Board of Celtic Studies, University of Wales History and Law
Series, No. XXI. Cardiff, University of Wales Press, and Dublin,
Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1963. Pp. 412. 45s.
This volume, published jointly by the University of Wales Press and the
Irish Manuscripts Commission, is drawn from the records of the Herbert
family formerly at Powis Castle and now in the National Library of Wales.
It contains fifty-nine letters of the Herberts of Powis Castle, ranging from
about 1613 to 1696, and a much larger collection (635 letters) of the
correspondence of the Herberts of Montgomery and Dolguog, extending
from the 1550s to 1690. The catholic Herberts of Powis Castle were too
prudent to leave much on paper, and there is little of general interest in
their correspondence. A steward defends himself, about 1635, from the
standard charge of enriching himself at his master's expense (pp. 20-1).
The second collection is much more interesting, though it is not complete.
Most of the diplomatic correspondence of Sir Edward Herbert, later
Lord Herbert of Chirbury, is in the Public Record Office, and has not
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