In the context of an issue of Common Knowledge dedicated to instances of experimental scholarship and to discussion of them, this contribution by a social historian of medieval England sets out to demonstrate that an empirical alternative to tendentious and interpretive historiography, despite all claims to the contrary, is possible and valuable. In this monograph-length article, the texts of selected documents in the Adair Family Collection (Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft Branch, call number 741) are set forth, often verbatim, and, though minutely contextualized, are subjected to only the lightest analysis. Scant thematic cues organize this in-depth exploration of the wills, deeds of purchase, quitclaims, rentals, indentures, receipts, charitable bequests, and other legal and commercial transactions of John Tasburgh I (d. 1473), his wife Margery (d. 1485), John Tasburgh II (d. 1509), his wife Olive, and their families, dependents, assigns, and parishes. Peripheral attention is paid to the better-known John Hopton and to the family of John Paston I, II, and III. Richmond's own readings of texts and circumstances appear largely in the form of questions, as if he were writing marginalia for his own later use while reading. Thus, the historian does all the archival work necessary for readers to arrive at their own hypotheses about how rurality related to urbanity in fifteenth-century Suffolk and, perhaps, also about the meaning of the word urbane.
Colin Richmond; The Advent of the Tasburghs: A Documentary Study in the Adair Family Collection. Common Knowledge 1 April 2014; 20 (2): 296–336. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2422971
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