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New Medieval Books: Social Memory, Reputation and the Politics of Death in the Medieval Irish Lordship

Social Memory, Reputation and the Politics of Death in the Medieval Irish Lordship

By Joanna MacGugan

Four Courts Press
ISBN: 978-1-80151-090-5

This book looks at what happened in Ireland when someone died an unusual death in Ireland between the years 1257 and 1344. As the book goes on to explain, this process has a lot of variables, most importantly that most of Ireland was under English rule, with many English settlers already living on the island, and this would lead to them trying to impose their legal system.


In this study, we see how colonial tensions influenced reciprocal relationships between social and literate practices in sources governing the administrative aspects of death. Investigating how these relationships played out in the context of the medieval lordship’s legal and political cultures brings new perspectives to historical literary studies. When we examine how social practices functioned alongside developing literate practices, we see the English of Ireland actively making orality work to their advantage as growing pragmatic literacy expanded their options. At the same time, written records offered the best means for protecting and expanding the crown’s regalian rights and financial well-being; for the lordship’s colonial bureaucracy, in other words, strategic communication almost always depended on written records.


Who is this book for?

First of all, this book will be a useful study for those interested in later medieval Ireland, especially when it comes to the era of English control. Secondly, those researching violence and crime in the Middle Ages will want to read this book, as deals with the legal aftermath. Finally, this book will have a lot to say on the ideas of how medieval society dealt with orality vs. written communication.

The author:

Joanna MacGugan is a Senior Editor at Dragonfly Editorial. She previously did a PhD in medieval studies at the University of Connecticut, and this book is based on her dissertation. You can learn more about Joanna through her LinkedIn page or follow her on Instagram.


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