By Bart Lambert and W. Mark Ormrod
FEBRUARY 4, 2017 BY
Historical Research, Vol. 89:244 (2016)
Introduction: During the last quarter of the fourteenth century the English royal chancery introduced a legal process, known to historians as denization, by which trustworthy aliens resident within the realm could become the sworn lieges of the king of England. Denization was quickly offered to a wide range of high- and relatively high-status individuals – artisans, merchants, clergy, knights and nobles – from many different parts of Europe and was available, without apparent distinction, to those whose former rulers might at the time be allies or enemies of the English monarch.
In a recent study, the present authors have demonstrated that the crown’s actions against French people resident in England after 1377 inspired it to develop the distinctive process of denization as a solution to the perceived problem of security risks from hostile foreigners in times of war. Even though denization rapidly developed into a set of rights applied to a wide range of foreigners, then, the primum mobile of change was the endemic state of war that existed between England and France in the later middle ages.