Trevor Russell Smith

Trevor Russell Smith

IMS PG Researcher and Postgraduate Tutor
Currently LHRI Post-Doctoral Fellow

Summary: Thesis: National Identity, Propaganda, and the Ethics of War in English Historical Literature, 1327–77

Location: LHRI Building, 29-31 Clarendon Place


Trevor is interested in the cultural and intellectual history of late-medieval England, especially in relation to national events and conflict. In his PhD he examined the intersecting themes of national identity, propaganda, and the ethics of war in the many English writings on contemporary war during the reign of Edward III (1327–77). He engaged with a large number of sources, including chronicles, histories, newsletters, poems, and prescriptive writings, many of which remain unedited, and some of which are entirely unknown to scholarship. In the course of his research he examined nearly 200 manuscripts for their variant and unedited texts, but also to better understand the intentions of medieval writers, often obscured by poor editorial choices. He contextualised his close readings of these texts with widely-read classical and ecclesiastical writings. Contrary to the common opinion, he argued that English writers in the period did not merely accept the ethically problematic actions of military conduct, nor did they see their enemies as an entity that deserved the harshest of measures under all circumstances, but rather actively engaged with and questioned them in their nuanced writings.

Over the last year or so he has become increasingly interested in the textual development of many of the more important writings in his corpus of historical literature. He has done his best to untangle the partial and often erroneously described manuscript traditions of all his texts in a lengthy appendix to his thesis, but much more work remains to be done. During his LHRI Postdoctoral Fellowship this spring he will continue this research and produce a critical edition of the St Albans A Continuation of Ranulf Higden’s Polychronicon from its three extant manuscripts. This continuation is one of only two written during the reign of Edward III and provides a far more elaborate narrative than the (poorly) edited A Continuation. However, because the SAA Continuation is unedited it remains relatively unknown to scholarship. This work will allow further work on the many later continuations to finally be done, which will then help to further fill the ‘chronicle gap’ of the later fourteenth century.

Trevor’s long-term project is an investigation of the most widely-read vernacular chronicle of fourteenth-century England, the Anglo-Norman Prose Brut. It will properly establish the ANPB’s development after the thirteenth-century version (to 1272) through to the first translation into Middle English. He aims to also show the wide influence of this text on late-medieval history writing, both in Latin and vernacular.


The Battle of Neville's Cross: A Casebook (Liverpool University Press) [forthcoming]

Journal Articles and Book Chapters
2018 ‘Ethics and Representation of War in the Lanercost Chronicle, 1327–46’, Bulletin of International Medieval Research, 20 [forthcoming]

2017 ‘Willing Body, Willing Mind: Non-Combatant Culpability According to English Combatant Writers, 1327–77’, in Killing and Being Killed: Bodies in Battle. Perspectives on Fighters in the Middle Ages, ed. by Jörg Rogge (Transcript Verlag), pp. 79–107 read online here

2015La chevauchée, o la estrategia del crimen en la guerra de los Cien Ańos’, Desperta Ferro: Antigua y Medieval, 31, pp. 61–65

Book Reviews
Julia Marvin, The Construction of Vernacular History in the Anglo-Norman Prose ‘Brut’ Chronicle: The Manuscript Culture of Late Medieval England (Boydell, 2017), review in Northern History read online here

2017 Nicholas A. Gribit, Henry of Lancaster's Expedition to Aquitaine, 1345–1346 (Boydell, 2016), review in Medieval Warfare [forthcoming]

2017 Joanna Bellis, The Hundred Years War in Literature, 1337–1600 (Boydell, 2016), review in De re militari read online here or here

2016 Michael Livingston and Kelly DeVries, eds, The Battle of Crécy: A Casebook (Liverpool University Press, 2015), review in De re militari read online here or here

2016 Jaclyn Rajsic, Erik Kooper, and Dominique Hoche, eds, The Prose Brut and Other Late Medieval Chronicles: Essays in Honour of Lister M. Matheson (York Medieval Press, 2016), review in Cerae, 3 read online here or here

2015 David R. Carlson, John Gower, Poetry and Propaganda in Fourteenth-Century England (Boydell, 2012), review in Leeds Studies in English, 46 [forthcoming]

2015 Rory Cox, John Wyclif on War and Peace (Boydell, 2014), review in De re militari read online here or here

2014 Charlotte Brewer and Barry Windeatt, eds, Traditions and Innovations in the Study of Medieval English Literature: The Influence of Derek Brewer (Brewer, 2013), review in Leeds Studies in English, 45, pp. 141–43

Recent Conference Activity

Conferences Organised
I co-founded and co-organise, with Sophie Harwood and Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis, the annual Medieval Culture and War conference. Each year the conference is held at a different university with particular strengths in medieval studies.

2018 ‘Medieval Culture and War: Power, Authority, Normativity’
Co-organised with the Bruxelles Organisation Committee, et al.
Université Saint-Louis — Bruxelles, Belgium (24–26 May)
View the CFP here or here, abstracts due 31 January 2018

2017 ‘Medieval Culture and War: Spaces, Images, Mentalities’
Co-organised with Inês Meira Araújo, António Martins Costa, and Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis
Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal (22–24 June)
2 keynote presentations, 25 papers in 8 sessions, and a personal guided tour of the Castelo de São Jorge

2016 ‘Medieval Culture and War: Ideals, Representations, Realities’
Co-organised with Sophie Harwood and Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis
University of Leeds (5–7 May)
2 keynote presentations, 24 papers in 8 sessions, and a hands-on session with manuscripts at the Royal Armouries

Sessions Organised
2017 ‘Medieval Boundaries and Borders’ (eight papers in two sessions)
1: ‘Intersecting Identities’ (session 71)
2: ‘Thresholds of Agency’ (session 118)
Co-organised with Sunny Harrison and Vanessa Wright
52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo (11–14 May)

2016 ‘Culture and Conflict’ (twelve papers in four sessions and one round table session)
1: ‘Writing War’ (session 1036)
2: ‘Imagining Weapons’ (session 1136)
3: ‘Ideals and Waging War’ (session 1236)
4: ‘The Wars of Edward III’ (session 1336)
5: ‘New Research Opportunities in Late Medieval War: A Round Table Discussion’ (session 1436)
Co-organised with Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis
23rd International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (4–7 July)

2015 ‘Transition and Change in Later Medieval War’ (nine papers in three sessions)
1: ‘Perceptions and Implications’ (session 524)
2: ‘Preparing for War’ (session 624)
3: ‘Models of Military Conduct in the Hundred Years War’ (session 724)
Co-organised with Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis
22nd International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (6–9 July)

Papers Presented
Cronica bona et compendiosa: The Composition and Uses of an Unedited Chronicle in England, c. 1377–1410’
25th International Medieval Congress (session 106), University of Leeds (2–5 July)

2018 ‘The Use of Classical Writings in the Representation of War during the Later Middle Ages’
War Through Other Stuff Workshop: Witnessing War, University of Hertfordshire (24 March), invited speaker

2017 ‘The Political and Military Reputation of David II “the Defecator”, King of the Scots, in English and French Historical Literature, 1327–77’
5th Late Medieval France and Burgundy Seminar, University of St Andrews (1–2 December)

2017 ‘Worthy Opponents or Treacherous Rebels?: Identity and the Ethics of War in English Chronicles, c. 1327–60’
24th International Medieval Congress (session 1611), University of Leeds (3–6 July)

2017 ‘National Identity, Language, and War in the Long Anglo-Norman Prose Brut Manuscripts’
Medieval Culture and War: Spaces, Images, Mentalities, Universidade de Lisboa (22–24 June)

2017 ‘Scottish Identity and the Ethics of War in English Chronicles, 1327–77’
52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo (11–14 May)

[+ 11 earlier conference papers and 12 presentations]


Undergraduate Modules
Medieval and Renaissance Europe (HIST1090), autumn 2017

Primary Sources for the Historian (HIST1300), spring 2017 and spring 2018

Introducing Medieval European Literature (MEDV1090), autumn 2014

Conflict and War in the Late Middle Ages: Prevention, Execution, and Rhetoric (MEDV3530), spring 2016

Postgraduate Modules
Introduction to Medieval Latin (MEDV5000M), autumn 2017

Intermediate Medieval Latin (MEDV5001M), spring 2018

Research Methods and Bibliography (MEDV5110M), autumn 2015 (contributor)

Shameless Autobiography

Trevor completed his BA in European History in 2009 at the University of California at Santa Cruz, with an exchange year at the University of York in 2007–08. He focused on the intersection of literature and history in cultural representations and performed several cross-cultural studies of medieval Europe and the ancient world. He then undertook his MA in Medieval History at the University of York, graduating in 2010. He worked on the difficult problem of ideals and reality in late-medieval England and France. In his thesis, ‘Warfare in Jean Froissart’s Chroniques: Representation and Realism’, supervised by Dr Craig Taylor, he investigated various elements of Froissart’s (supposedly) instructional writings, such as risk and reward, courage and cowardice, and the varied demands of leadership, and how they affected his representation of culture and war.

Trevor took three years off to read, travel, work, and sleep. However, his interests called him back, and in 2013 he began his PhD here in the Institute for Medieval Studies. He passed his viva in January and is now finishing up the corrections on his thesis.

When not pursuing his research, Trevor enjoys arguments, chevauchées, classic literature, coffee, hiking, sleazy detective fiction, (Islay) whisky, and writing short autobiographical statements in third person.

For his CV and a complete list and description of his publications, conference papers, and presentations, please see Trevor’s profile.


Dr Alan V. Murray (Institute for Medieval Studies) and Dr Catherine Batt (School of English).