Hastings the Topic of Study
for 1997-98 Schallek Scholar
After reviewing the applications received this year, the Selection Committee has awarded a William B. Schallek Memorial Fellowship Award for the 1997-98 academic year to one candidate. These awards, in the amount of $500 or more, are given to students engaged in dissertation research or writing on a topic relating to the study of late medieval English history and culture, with preference given to topics closest to the time of Richard III.
This year’s candidate is studying a new dimension of a character of great interest to Ricardians: William Lord Hastings.
Theron Westervelt, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Edward IV’s Governance of England,
with special reference to William Lord Hastings, 1471-83
“The reign of Edward IV provides the historian with many aspects to study. It occupies an interesting position as the last reign of any appreciable length in medieval England. The reign can be studied as the result of the changes and growth in government over the Middle Ages. Alternatively, these years can be studied as the forerunner to the government of early modern England under the Tudors. Or, indeed, leaving aside the rather artificial divide between medieval and early modern, it can be studied with a view toward how this reign fits in the steady flow of the development of government in England. “William Lord Hastings stands as one of the most important men during the reign of Edward IV. The king’s friend, he served as chamberlain, councillor, captain of Calais, and steward of Tutbury. Edward IV, at least once freed from Lancastrian distractions in his second reign, did not employ people who failed to serve him well, nor did he reward them. This year, with my M.Phil., I am investigating how the Woodvilles fit into Edward IV’s scheme for governing England. Hastings provides an even better example of how Edward IV sought to run his country. Hastings served at many different levels of Edward’s government; on the council, in the household, in Calais, in the counties. By studying what Hastings did for the government in each of these areas, we can come to a better comprehension of what Edward IV’s system of government was like and how it compares to those before and after it. As a central figure in Edward IV’s government, Hastings provides a key to understanding it. “Hastings has been, and remains, a character only partially illuminated, mostly hidden in shadow. General studies on the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III leave a one-dimensional picture of Edward IV’s best friend, his close companion and the man who would not abandon Edward’s sons. Work specifically dedicated to Hastings, such as Professor Dunham’s pioneering book, tend to concentrate on his specific relations with the structures in the localities and are more interested in illuminating bastard feudalism. Recent works which deal with Hastings, mot notably by Ian Rowney, Michael Hicks, Susan Wright, and Christine Carpenter, concern themselves with Hastings’ position within the local gentry power structure. What none of these works do is give us a broad picture of this man of many offices and duties, the man who was aptly portrayed in Ian McKellen’s recent film of Richard III as Edward IV’s prime minister. There is no way the Yorkists and their world can be open to us until we come to a better understanding of this man William Lord Hastings. “The actual mechanics of the rule of the Yorkist kings has been a long neglected subject. The rehabilitation of Edward IV’s rule has occurred at a time when historians have been less interested in governance than in politics and personalities. With the re-emergence of a more ‘constitutional’ type of history for the period and a growing interest in the linkage between center and localities, most notably in the works of John Watts, Helen Castor, and Christine Carpenter, now seems the ideal time to look again at Yorkist government, especially through the career of someone who was a key figure both at the center and in the provinces.”
The William B. Schallek Memorial Graduate Fellowship awards are supported by an endowment fund begun in 1978 by William Schallek and mnamed for him after his death. The fund is supplemented by additional contributions by his widow, Maryloo Schallek, and by other generous Ricadians. Contributions to the Schallek Fund are fully tax-deductible. As always, our thanks are due to the five members of our Selection Committee who give generously of their time to evaluate the appliations:
- Lorraine C. Attreed, Holy Cross College
- Barbara A. Hanawalt, University of Minnesota
- Morris G. McGee, Montclair State University (emeritus)
- Shelley A. Sinclair, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
- Charles T. Wood, Dartmouth College