Medieval Petitions: A catalogue of exchequer, chancery and gascon petitions in the national archives

The series 'Ancient Petitions' in The National Archives: Public Record Office consists of over 17,500 petitions presented to the English crown, most of them dating between the thirteenth and the fifteenth centuries.

Petitions represent the authentic voice of the subjects of the medieval English state. They deal with matters that could not be resolved at common law and required some application of the king's special grace; they therefore tell us much about attitudes to, and the extent of, public authority in the later Middle Ages. They also provide a wealth of incidental material about social conventions and political culture. The formal statement of grievance that lies at the heart of each petition includes detailed information about the circumstances of the petitioner and other parties, and the conditions of the locality. Since they were written in at least three different languages (Latin, Anglo-Norman French, Middle English), and were composed according to recognised and evolving formulae, these petitions can reveal much about the history of language and the discourse of political complaint in later medieval England.

Principal investigator
Professor William Mark Ormrod
Principal project staff
Professor Mark Ormrod
Start date
Friday, November 1, 2002
Completion date
Thursday, December 1, 2005