By Lars Kjær
Paper given at Revealing Records II conference, King’s College London (2010)
Introduction: In this paper I will be discussing how studies of the rich archives of central and late medieval England can bring new insights to fields of inquiry normally more associated with continental Europe and early medieval period. I will be discussing the form and meaning of gift-giving in the thirteenth-century English court and the vexed question of how and to what extent modern historians can gain insight into the actual practice of medieval ritual. I hope to offer an example of how dry administrative records and rich literary sources of dubious historicity can be made to speak to and illuminate each other. The revealing records I will be examining are two registers of gift exchange from the English court. The first one covers the gifts given to Henry III between 17 December 1234 and 7 May 1235, the face of this document has recently been edited by Benjamin Wild. The second is a register of the belts in the possession of Queen Eleanor de Provence in the years 1251 and 1252, now National Archives E 101/349/13.