K. B. McFarlane


K. B. McFarlane

Kenneth Bruce McFarlane (1903-1966) was the 20th century's most influential historian of late medieval England. Educated at Dulwich College and Exeter College, Oxford, he became a fellow of Magdalen College in 1927, where he remained for the rest of his life. McFarlane never married.

His most important contribution to the field was his revision of the understanding of late medieval feudal relationships, known as "bastard feudalism". The old consensus, promoted primarily by Bishop Stubbs, was that payment for service in feudal relationships had promoted greed and civil strife. McFarlane pointed out the adhesive effect of this, and other forms of patronage, as a field of common interest for the crown and the landed aristocracy.

Although his scholarship and methods have had great influence on later historians, McFarlane did not publish widely in his own lifetime. The main sources for his scholarship are the book "Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights", his Ford Lectures from 1953 published in 1980 as "The Nobility of Later Medieval England", and the essays and shorter articles published by his student G. L. Harriss in 1981 under the title "England in the Fifteenth Century".

References

*"The McFarlane legacy: studies in late medieval politics and society" edited by R.H. Britnell and A.J. Pollard. (1995)
*'Kenneth Bruce McFarlane, 1903-1966' by K. J. Leyser. "Proceedings of the British Academy", v. 62, 1976, PP. 485-506.
*'K.B. McFarlane is remembered' by Alan Bennett, his former student. "London Review of Books", 4 September 1997, PP. 12-15.
*'A don of old school; Alan Bennett, recalls both the dedication and acerbity of his tutor the historian K B McFarlane', "Oxford Today", v.10 no.2 (Hilary 1998), PP. 26-26.


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