Fifteenth-Century England

Submitting Institution

University of Winchester

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

The Wars of the Roses and Richard III remain engrossing and controversial after 500 years throughout the Anglophone world and beyond. Hicks and Holford have made a significant impact on public knowledge and understanding of the period's politics and society. Their publications, printed and online, are valuable resources for professional and amateur historians, students and the general public, nationally and internationally. Hicks' Anne Neville underpinned Philippa Gregory's novel, The Kingmaker's Daughter and hence the BBC series The White Queen. The website, blog and twitter, Mapping the Medieval Countryside, are making the inquisitions post mortem (IPMs) much more widely accessible and useful than hitherto.

Underpinning research

This case study relates to the principal research areas of Professor Michael Hicks and Dr Matthew Holford.

Hicks and Holford are historians of the political society of fifteenth-century England, and especially of the Wars of the Roses and Richard III. Hicks has worked in this field for 40 years and since 1998 has published nine books of at least 2* quality and many articles. Since 2000, Holford has written two books and many papers of at least 2* quality. Both are historians of records — Hicks published `The Sources' in A.J. Pollard (ed.), The Wars of the Roses (1995) — and both have longstanding interests in IPMs, the key source for late medieval English landholding, the rural economy and society. Since 2011 they have been digitising all published IPMs for use by academic archaeologists, demographers, geographers and historians and especially by local and family historians as required by the Impact statements in their successful 2010 Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant application. This summary treats the two research areas that underpin claims for impact.

Hicks has deepened and extended historians' knowledge and understanding of fifteenth-century politics and has re-interpreted the Wars of the Roses as a whole. His principal publications here are his books on the Wars of the Roses and the Yorkist royal family, in particular his Warwick the Kingmaker (1998), Edward IV (2004) and The Wars of the Roses (2010), all submitted to RAE 2001-8 or REF 2014. Also incorporating excellent research, but not submitted, are Hicks' most widely known books on Richard III (2000), Edward V (2003) and Anne Neville (2006), which treat different aspects of the Third War of the Roses (1483-5).

So important are IPMs to medieval historians that they were selected by the Victorian Public Record Office for publication as calendars (shortened summaries) of which 29 volumes have been published, the last five funded as Resource Enhancement by the AHRC at a cost of nearly £1,000,000. Holford calendared volume 26 (2010). Calendaring huge volumes at £195 each on very short print-runs accessible to very few is no longer considered financially viable. Hicks (Principal Investigator) and Holford (Senior Researcher) collaborate with King's College London's Department for Digital Humanities on the AHRC-funded project Mapping the Medieval Countryside, which makes all this material fully accessible online, banks the lessons learnt from the calendaring project, and extends understanding within academia and beyond. All 29 calendars are digitised on the open access British History Online (2013). The multi-authored The Fifteenth-Century Inquisitions Post Mortem: A Companion, edited by Hicks and containing four papers by Hicks and Holford, was published in 2012. The introduction to the source and its use with selected examples is being published continuously online at and itself exemplifies excellent research. The freely-accessible web-mounted GIS-linked database of IPMs 1399-1447, capable of sophisticated searches and analysis, will be launched in 2014. The next AHRC application will apply this digital technology to filling the 1447-85 gap in calendars at much reduced cost for a worldwide audience.

References to the research

M. Hicks, Warwick the Kingmaker (Blackwells: 1998) RAE 2001


M. Hicks, Richard III (Tempus: 2000)

M. Hicks, Edward V: The Prince in the Tower (Tempus: 2003)


M. Hicks, Edward IV (Arnold: 2004) RAE 2008

M. Hicks, Anne Neville, Queen to Richard III (Tempus: 2006)

M. Hicks, The Wars of the Roses (Yale 2010) REF 2014

M. Hicks, The Fifteenth-Century Inquisitions Post Mortem: A Companion (2012), 2 chapters by Hicks, 2 by Holford REF 2014


M.L. Holford, `"Testimony (in part fictitious)": Proofs of Age in the First Half of the Fifteenth Century', Historical Research, 82 (2009), 634-54 REF 2014


Details of the impact

Impact is of two types.

Most recognizable and familiar are publications directed at the informed public, in Britain and world-wide, who are now engrossed by the Wars of the Roses and in particular Richard III. Many of them belonged to the former History and Medieval History Book Clubs and still belong to the Richard III Society. The excavation of Richard III's remains (`The King in the Car Park') is an international sensation. Hicks' Warwick and The Wars of the Roses were directed at trade audiences and have been repackaged by commercial publishers for wider consumption, e.g. in Hicks' biographies of the three Yorkist kings and their brother, consort, and father-in-law. Biography is more entertaining and accessible to non-academics than many forms of historical writing and has become a key medium for disseminating up-to-date research to wider audiences. Success here is demonstrated by the sales of Hicks' books, Richard III (Tempus: 2000), Edward V: The Prince in the Tower (Tempus: 2003), and Anne Neville, Queen to Richard III (Tempus: 2005), together 27,000 sales, 5,058 in this REF cycle. Richard III and Anne Neville are e-books. Hicks' The Wars of the Roses 1455-87 (Osprey: 2003) was written for re-enactors. All Hicks' books sell abroad. Hicks contributes to numerous encyclopaedias and directories, such as The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), Oxford Bibliographies Online: Military History (2011), Wiley-Blackwell's Encyclopaedia of War: Wiley Online Version (2011), and The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages (2010).

Hicks has published articles on this subject in the BBC History Magazine which claims 60,000 sales and a readership of 265,000 and on `Henry VI: The Misjudged King' in History Today 61.1 (2011) (circulation 15,000). Hicks was consulted about Richard III's bones by media in Britain (BBC News Magazine, September 2012), Éire (Irish Radio's Talking History, 7 April 2013), the USA (Washington Post, 6 February 2013) and Chile (El Mercurio de Chile, 9 February 2013) and commented in the Times Higher on 15 February 2013. Hicks' public papers on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III's character, hosted at the Tower of London by the Royal Armouries (2011) and Historic Royal Palaces (2013), each attracted over a hundred fee-paying and historically informed audiences. The latter paper was published as a podcast on the Historic Royal Palaces' iTunes site Hicks contributed sections to the Richard III Society website In 2013, he published two podcasts for sixth formers for the Historical Association on `Richard III' and `The Wars of the Roses', Hicks' book Anne Neville was acknowledged by Philippa Gregory as the basis of her bestselling novel The Kingmaker's Daughter (2012) and hence for her sixteen-part BBC2 series on Women in the Wars of the Roses (The White Queen and The Real White Queen, 2013), for which Hicks was a historical consultant. He will write the 60,000-word essay on Anne Neville for Gregory's Women of the Cousins' War, ii, to be published by Simon and Schuster.

Other types of impact on local historians and family historians worldwide are achieved by Hicks and Holford through their digitisation of a key source, the IPMs, on the Mapping the Medieval Countryside project. This is academic research impacting beyond academia. IPMs record deaths and succession to property everywhere, topographical features from fields and markets to mills and weirs, and the personnel of local government. This data is valuable to landscape and other archaeologists, demographers and geographers as well as historians. IPMs mention thousands of medieval places — the subject matter of local historians — and tens of thousands of people for family historians to study. Family and local historians contributed to the public engagement survey. The project website explains the IPM system, trains non-academics in using IPMs, and includes examples of their effective use: There are featured inquisitions, blogs, news items, and a Twitter account. The website was recommended by the Family History Magazine (January 2012) and The Ricardian (April 2013). The Companion gives further guidance. The digitised IPMs on British History Online had made available source material hitherto inaccessible: Local and family historians with an internet connection anywhere in the world can now consult this material free of charge. Impact is already indicated by hits on the various websites: 50,696 in British History Online (up to 31 July 2013) and 6,719 (up to 31 July 2013) on Mapping the Medieval Countryside.

Sources to corroborate the impact

1) Impact statements for 2010 AHRC grant award

2) Sales of books from royalty statements

3) Contributions to encyclopaedias, directories etc.: 33 biographies in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) (2005: Fellow of Oxford Dictionary of National Biography); Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia of War (2010); The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages (2010); Oxford Bibliographies Online: Military History (2011); and the Richard III Society website [as cited in text]

4) Articles in popular journals: Family History Magazine, History Today

5) Websites: Inquisitions post mortem on British History Online and the Mapping the Medieval Countryside Project.;

6) Webhits: statements from Google Analytics and British History Online

7) Podcasts:;

8) Broadcasts: three on Richard III (Channel 4, Radio Solent, Talking History).

9) Newspapers: Letter in the Times Higher, articles by journalists based on discussions with Hicks in BBC News Magazine, Washington Post and syndicated papers, El Mercurio de Chile (PDFs available)

10) Letter/emails from Philippa Gregory; resulting contract with Oxford Scientific Films; credit on The Real White Queen