Politics, propaganda and public opinion in the reigns of Henry III and Edward I
This thesis traces the way in which the growing political consciousness of the English nation in the thirteenth century led the king to pay more attention to public opinion, and considers the arguments he used to justify his policies, and in particular his military undertakings, before a wider public audience. The development of such political propaganda began during Henry Ill's reign. Yet he felt little need to explain his policies until this increasingly unrealistic position was exposed during 1258-65, when the barons made strenuous and successful attempts to exploit public opinion. Edward I probably learnt much from his father's experience, and during his reign took considerable care to explain how his wars were in the interests of the realm. The traditional means of communication and the arguments put across both underwent considerable development as a result. Much of the material for this study is in print. The king's arguments can be established from the writs entered on the chancery rolls, supplemented by the accounts of the chroniclers, while the outline of the barons' arguments in 1258-65 can be established from the same sources. Bishops' registers and the memoranda rolls provide further information towards the end of the century. Throughout an attempt has been made to show how the king's claims and arguments were viewed, which is not particularly easy. The main sources for public opinion, the chronicles, supplemented by political songs, reflect mainly the views of literate churchmen, and the opinions of the laity can be ascertained only indirectly. Yet the picture which emerges is of an increasingly politically conscious nation following the main political events with interest, and able to judge the merits of the king's arguments for itself.