Taylor Aucoin: SRS Study Fellowship (2017-18)


My thesis examines festive culture in medieval and early modern Britain by focusing on the seasonal festival Shrovetide (British Carnival) and its related customs. Concentrating research on a single traditional holiday, and one which has received little dedicated attention in the historiography, I aim to show that medieval and early modern festival was a medium for the active expression of ideas and the catalyzing of change- a public sphere impacting historical movement to an extent underestimated by scholars heretofore. Four primary chapters support the central thesis by analyzing different Shrovetide customs in turn: feasting, sport, revelry, and riot. 


The SRS will support research at The National Archives and London Metropolitan Archives for my chapter on 'Feast and Fellowship'. It will explore how late medieval and early modern traditions of Shrovetide feasting and gift-giving inflected relations between servers and the served, over time crafting Shrove Tuesday into the original workman’s holiday. Ordinances from manorial accounts, tenancy obligations for seasonal rents in kind, and gift-allowances from elite and civic accounts provide evidence of nobles, clergy, and civic authorities giving gifts and granting access to certain foods and feasting spaces upon Shrove Tuesday, specifically to servants and labourers. The chapter will examine how customs were used to create and reinforce social contracts during specific festive times, providing a window onto the festive experiences of some of the lowest levels of pre-modern British society