Flemish Settlement and Maritime Traffic in the South-West peninsula of Britain, c. 1050-1250

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Eljas Oksanen has recently explored how Flemings dynamized the economy of the English channel basin in the century after the Norman conquest of England, acting as traders and settlers in eastern England, an area linked by its short crossing and its topography to the deep inlets of the Flemish coast. This paper considers the more fragmentary evidence for Flemish activity in south-western Britain in the same period. Urban charters and Domesday evidence attest the presence of Flemish settlers on all three coasts of a peninsula which formed the gateway to the Irish Sea trading zone. It is argued that the Flemish incumbents who directed western bishoprics in the eleventh century, or the enclave which Henry I famously granted to the Flemings in Rhos, Pembrokeshire, should be understood not in isolation, but as relatively visible manifestations of a wider pattern of population movement, albeit on a more modest scale than its easterly counterpart. The cumulative evidence for trade, settlement, integration and exploration in the towns of the Irish Sea zone indicates a dynamism and an energy which repays investigation, not least as a route to understanding the leading role of Flemish adventurers in the later conquests of Wales and Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLives, Identities and Histories in the Central Middle Ages
EditorsJulie Barrau, David Bates
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781316676004
ISBN (Print)9781107160804
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2021


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