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The Experiences of Aliens in Later Medieval London and the Negotiation of Belonging, 1400-1540

Ravenhill, Joshua (2019) The Experiences of Aliens in Later Medieval London and the Negotiation of Belonging, 1400-1540. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Large numbers of foreign immigrants, also known as aliens, moved to London in the late medieval period in the hope of taking advantage of the city’s economic opportunities. Aliens who stayed in the city for sustained periods had moved away from traditional networks and family and had relocated to a place where they were less well known. This was potentially very problematic considering that bonds of friendship and social connections were crucial for an individual to prosper within a late medieval society and economy. The issues faced by aliens who lacked social connections raise salient questions which form the two driving questions of this thesis: what did aliens do to overcome the difficulties associated with uprooting to a new environment? What options did they have to do so? The thesis uses a combination of legal and probate records to reconstruct the lives of individual aliens, and stories about individual aliens which were presented within legal contexts, to address these driving questions. It also explores ideas drawn from the sociological concept of belonging using these legal and probate sources. Through studying individual lives to uncover the strategies which undertook to survive and settle and the options they had to do so, the thesis adopts the novel approach of privileging the perspective of the migrants themselves. The thesis argues that resident aliens actively worked to negotiate their inclusion within different groups in London and, in doing so, offers a significantly more comprehensive understanding of alien experiences and sociability than that presented in previous scholarship. The analysis also offers an important challenge to the ways historians have conceptualised the ‘assimilation’ of aliens into London society and explores elements of alien lives which have hitherto been unnoticed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr Joshua Ravenhill
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2020 16:41
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2020 16:41
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25750

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