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Welsh History Review


Vol. 11, nos. 1-4 1982-83

The financial administration of the Lordship and County of Chester : Book review.

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loved the tale for its own sake, not for what it might tell in modern
historical terms. At the same time his main attraction lies in his tale-telling
ability. He records much that must otherwise have remained unknown,
and his colourful narrative can be used to good effect in the writing of the
modern impressionistic-type history which sells well in our own day. None
would deny that he was a marvellously gifted writer. Whether he was
really an historian is not convincingly proved by this book. But, perhaps,
it was never intended that it should be.
This collection, then, produces a mixed reaction. A chronological table
of the known events of Froissart's career, drawn parallel to those events
which he described, might have been useful, for the point is made more
than once that Froissart was writing sometimes long after the events he
reported had taken place. A short 'drawing together' essay by the editor
would have been valuable. As it is, the reader (and who is the reader in
this case? Hardly the 'general reader', I suspect) is left to draw his own
conclusions. Technically, the book contains too many small misprints;
the noting system is complex; and it is a pity that only works apparently
cited in the text should appear in the bibliography. Yet there are some
good things here. To this reader, the essay by Professor Russell is the best
of its kind (see notably pp. 98-100), followed by that of M. Tucoo-Chala.
On a very different approach, arguably the most profitable of all, M.
Contamine discusses Froissart's attitude to war. This is a valuable con-
tribution for the questions it raises regarding the activity which was basic
to the story around which Froissart wove his best 'historical' writing.
Liverpool C. T. ALLMAND
CHESTER. By P. H. W. Booth. Chetham Society, Manchester, 1981.
Pp. 207. £ 16.50.
Cheshire held a unique place in the polity of late medieval England.
Under direct royal control from 1237, it came to be regularly set aside
for the heir to the throne, whose household was financed and whose
followers were rewarded from its resources. But it was also a frontier
province, sharing in the peculiar customs and institutions of the march
and serving as a base for the Edwardian conquests of Wales. Its singu-
larity, reinforced rather than created by its establishment as an apanage
for the Lord Edward in 1254, produced a more than usually assertive
county community, suspicious of innovation and tenacious in defence of
its distinctive privileges, but denied by its exclusion from parliament a
chance to defend those privileges in the way open to other counties.
Exempt as it was from national taxation, its local grievances had to be
redressed locally, and not at Westminster.
Mr. Booth has set out to tell a particular part of this larger story:
how the lords of Cheshire managed, exploited and spent the resources of
their lordship. Under Edward I those resources were used mainly to
finance both the king's Welsh wars and his new monastic foundation at
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