The Letters of Edward I: Political Communication in the Thirteenth Century

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As formulaic in appearance as they are abundant in the archives, it is easy to underestimate the power of the letters generated by medieval governments, but these acts of communication were more than mere containers of information. Operating at the intersection of the spoken and the written, the performed and the observed, they produced a discourse that maximized royal authority and promoted solidarity between sender and recipient.
This book situates letters within medieval theories of composition and habits of reception, to argue that even mundane letters of governance were rhetorical texts. It focuses on the example of Edward I of England, whose rhetorical prowess was noted, often critically, by contemporaries. It shows how the king's correspondence varied in tone, vocabulary and structure across his reign and between recipients, revealing an unexpected dynamism of political discourse. Moving between historical context and close readings of individual letters, this volume identifies letter-writing as an art through which the king and his government attempted to negotiate and mould relationships with political communities and diplomatic interlocutors alike.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWoodbridge Suffolk UK
PublisherThe Boydell Press
Number of pages250
ISBN (Electronic)9781800101104
ISBN (Print)9781783274154
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Medieval history
  • Rhetoric
  • Political culture
  • Diplomacy
  • kingship
  • Communication theory
  • Reception theory

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