Trevor Russell Smith

Trevor Russell Smith

IMS PG Researcher and Postgraduate Tutor

Summary: Thesis: Conceiving Individuality and Emotions: English Rhetorical Approaches to War and Peace during the Hundred Years War



I study contemporary English attitudes to violence in the particularly brutal and wide-ranging Hundred Years War (1337–1453). My project began as a reevaluation of the commonplace misconception that people during the Middle Ages, especially English writers with little first-hand experience with war, accepted the suffering and destruction that results from devastation because it was seen as a pragmatic means to an end. To challenge this, I investigate chroniclers’ ethics of violence, especially against non-combatants, through a close reading and linguistic analysis. I am particularly interested in varied conceptions of the non-combatant as a separate category which is inherently immoral to attack, and how writers pair this with emotive language to provoke sympathy for suffering. These moments are especially strange in English writing, as the English were well-known for the scale of destruction they inflicted in France. I am investigating all of the fifty or so English chronicles written during the reign of Edward III (1327–77, over twenty of which remain unedited and rarely, if ever, considered), rather than just the popular and ‘exciting’ texts published in accessible editions. I aim to provide a nuanced analysis of varied ethical perceptions of the conduct of war, and how this affects rhetorical techniques and representation. I contextualise these layered texts in their many theoretical frameworks, such as idealistic classical warfare, chivalry, just war, holy war, rebellion, and total war. This is especially important in considering how some writers (especially combatants) praise (or merely rationalise) attacks on non-combatants. To help understand often dense language I compare these texts with those across a range of genres, including manuals/prescriptive texts, letters/journals, incidental poetry, romance, and moralist treatises.


Journal Articles and Book Chapters
‘Willing Body, Willing Mind: Non-Combatant Culpability According to English Combatant Writers, 1327–77’
Killing and Being Killed: Bodies in Battle, ed. by Jörg Rogge (Transcript Verlag, 2017) [submitted, forthcoming]

La chevauchée, 1337–48’
Desperta Ferro: Antigua y Medieval, 31 (2015), 61–65

‘Ethics and Representation of War in the Lanercost Chronicle, 1327–46’
Bulletin of International Medieval Research, 20 (2014) [submitted, forthcoming]

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

Review of: Joanna Bellis, The Hundred Years War in Literature, 1337–1600 (Boydell, 2016)
in De re militari (2016) [forthcoming]

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

Review of: 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)
in Cerae, 3 (2016) read online here or here

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

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

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

Recent Conference Activity

Conferences Organised
I co-organised a three-day conference of 24 papers, 2 keynote presentations (by Matthew Bennett and Karen Watts), and one hands-on session at the Royal Armouries, here at Leeds entitled ‘Medieval Culture and War: Ideals, Representations, Realities’, on 5–7 May 2016, with Sophie Harwood and Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis. There were forty delegates from around the world (Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States). We were funded by Medium Aevum and the University of Leeds. See the programme and website for more information. We are in the initial stages of co-organising a second conference in Lisbon for June 2017.

Sessions Organised
‘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
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
International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (6–9 July 2015)

Papers Presented (selected)
‘Divine Will, Human Agency, and Ideals of War According to the Lanercost Chronicle and Geoffrey le Baker’s Chronicle
International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (4–7 July 2016)

‘Conceiving the Non-Combatant in English Historical and Political Writings, c. 1300–50’
Leeds Culture and War Conference, University of Leeds (5–7 May 2016)

‘“Non tamen ille David quem Christus sanctificavit”: Negative Biblical Allusion and David II of Scotland in English Chronicles, 1333–77’
Kingship and the Bible in the Middle Ages, University of Oxford (18 March 2016)

‘Devastation, Chivalric Rhetoric, and Ethics of War in the Lanercost Chronicle, 1327–46’
600th Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt Conference, University of Southampton (31 July–3 August 2015)

‘Willing Body, Willing Mind: Morally Killing Non-Combatants during the Hundred Years War’
Killing and Being Killed: Perspectives on Bodies in Battle in the Middle Ages, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany (16–18 April 2015)

[+ earlier conference papers]

Recent Presentations

‘Concepts of the Non-Combatant in Fourteenth-Century England’
University of Leeds (28 April 2016)

‘David II “Cacator” of Scotland: Uses of Royal Defecation in Chronicles’
University of Leeds (11 November 2015)

‘Problems and Opportunities in Using Narrative Sources of the Hundred Years War’
University of Leeds (15 June 2015)

‘Reading Roman War Manuals as Moral Frameworks in England during the Hundred Years War’
University of Birmingham (3 February 2015), invited

‘“Guerre sans feu ne valoit rien”: English Debate on Chevauchées and War’
University of Leeds (21 May 2014)

[+ earlier presentations]


I am a Tutor and Dissertation Mentor in the Institute for Medieval Studies and History Department. I teach on the following undergraduate modules:

Primary Sources for the Historian (HIST1300)

Introducing Medieval European Literature (MEDV1090)

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

I occasionally contribute to MA modules, such as:

Research Methods and Bibliography (MEDV5110M)

Other Academic Activity

I provide introductions to medieval themed films for the Medieval Society (Excalibur in 2014, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail and La passion de Jeanne d'Arc in 2015). I am on the Medieval Group Committee, for which I occasionally moderate presentations, and I served on the History Department Research Committee for 2014–15. I am also a member of the Medieval Academy of America and the Royal Historical Society.

Shameless Autobiography

I completed my 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. I focused on the intersection of literature and history in cultural representations and performed several cross-cultural studies of medieval Europe and the ancient world.

I then undertook my MA in Medieval History at the University of York, graduating in 2010. In my time at York, I worked on the difficult problem of ideals and reality in late-medieval England and France. In my dissertation, ‘Warfare in Jean Froissart's Chroniques: Representation and Realism’, supervised by Dr Craig Taylor, I 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.

I took three years off to read, travel, work, and sleep. However, my studies called me back, and in 2013 I started my PhD here in the Institute for Medieval Studies.

When not pursuing my research, I enjoy chess, chevauchées, classic literature, coffee, hiking, photography, travel, and writing short autobiographical statements.

For my c.v. and a complete list and description of my publications, conference papers, and presentations, please see my profile.


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