I am a Research Officer in medieval history, specialising in the social history of Britain, especially England and Wales, during the central Middle Ages (c. 1000-1300). In particular, I am fascinated by the intersections of gender, locality and class attendant upon the actions and experiences of the female members of the greater Marcher families before the conquest of Wales in 1282. My most recent work looked at women’s litigation and the interaction of different legal systems at the Anglo-Welsh border, and resulting publications include an article in English Historical Review and a prize-winning essay in the recently founded Mortimer History Society Journal – the latter aimed at bringing academic scholarship to a wider readership.

Most recently I have begun working on in Jewish women’s litigation in England before 1290. I was recently awarded funding from the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants scheme and the Jewish Historical Society of England to pilot a study of Jewish litigants, men and women, in England before 1290 and to explore the northwest European context up to the Black Death.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of MEMO, the Swansea Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research.

Areas of Expertise

  • aristocracies and frontier in the British Isles 1000-1300
  • women and gender in medieval Britain
  • medieval Wales and Anglo-Welsh relations before 1300
  • medieval law and litigation
  • Jewish communities in England and northwest Europe before 1350

Publications

  1. Cavell, E. 'Intelligence and intrigue in the March of Wales: noblewomen and the fall of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, 1274-1282' Historical Research 88 239 1 19
  2. Cavell, E. 'Welsh princes, English wives: the politics of Powys Wenwynwyn revisited' The Welsh History Review 27 2 214 252
  3. Cavell, E. The Heralds’ Memoir, 1486-1490: Court Ceremonial, Royal Progress, and Rebellion Donington London Record Society in association with Shaun Tyas
  4. Cavell, E. 'Emma d'Audley and the clash of laws in thirteenth-century Northern Powys' (Ed.), The Welsh and the Medieval World. Travel, Migration and Exile (ed. Patricia Skinner) Cardiff University of Wales Press
  5. Cavell, E. 'A forgotten charter of Margaret de Bohun' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 131 179 188

See more...

Teaching

  • HIH117 Medieval Europe: an introduction

    The module is a basic introduction to the history of Europe c600-c1450, a period usually described as 'Medieval'. It outlines the political and economic structures of the period, and examines the medieval 'world view' by discussing attitudes to life, death and the afterlife. Its first theme, expansion, charts the growth of Europe as a major world power and includes topics such as the crusades against the Muslims and pagans, political and economic growth, and intellectual development in the foundation of the universities. Its second theme, crisis, focuses on the devastating impact of plague, famine and warfare, and the increasing persecution of heretics, lepers, homosexuals, and Jews.

  • HIH2019 Gendering the Middle Ages: Power and Exclusion

    This module introduces gender theory as it has been applied to medieval culture. It traces the development of gender studies from early attempts at medieval women's history through successive `waves¿ of feminist studies, to gendered approaches which broadened considerations to include masculinity, sexuality and transgender identities. Exploring case studies from the 5th to the 15th centuries, the course will introduce students to the processes by which many voices have been excluded from traditional medieval histories, offering an alternative view from the perspective of the disempowered.

  • HIH3300 History Dissertation

    The History dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module that runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching for the degrees in History, and concerning a topic that falls within staff research and teaching interests.

  • HIH3301 Welsh society in the later Middle Ages, 1267-1536 (Level 3)

    This module offers an in-depth thematic look at the social institutions which underpinned Welsh society in the later Middle Ages, from Henry III's 1267 recognition of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd's native Principality of Wales to Henry VIII's 1536 'Act of Union (of England and Wales)'. It introduces students to the rich opportunities and practical difficulties of studying a medieval society. Social institutions are explored in some depth, at several levels of society, and comparative methods are employed throughout to highlight the similarities and differences between Welsh and English systems of law, kinship and community organization. Lectures and seminars explore traditional features of Welsh society which survived conquest, as well as the impact of post-conquest English innovations. Students will be encouraged to see Welsh society in the broader context of medieval European societies, and take an interdisciplinary approach the study Anglo-Welsh cultural exchange, drawing on social, historical and anthropological perspectives.

  • HIH3311 Law and Justice in Medieval England, Part 1

    In the later thirteenth century Edward I began a process of unprecedented reform of the administration of law, both civil and criminal, in English realm. Edwardian reforms ranged from basic and high profile legal changes, such as making the crime of rape a felony, to more subtle developments, such as promoting a new and more professionalized class of royal justices and administrators. Under Edward I, and his successors, the crown challenged the right of local lords to administer their own law and justice, promoting the application of English common law principals in local jurisdictions, and ultimately encouraging what has been called the `triumph of the common law¿. Subsequently, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the machinery of English criminal and civil law took on a life of its own, as a ponderous bureaucracy, which in turn shaped the common law it was established to administer into the skeleton of the English legal system until modern times. This module tracks the transformation of the theory and practice of later medieval English common law from trial by battle and ordeal, to a battle of wits between trained attorneys. This module is the first part of a two-part Special Subject concerning the development and spread of English Common Law in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, and introduces students to the main historical debates and primary sources for the study of medieval common law. It places great emphasis on the use of records of legal cases as `real-world¿ examples, and medieval literary criticisms of the law.

  • HIH3312 Law and Justice in Medieval England - Part 2

    In the later thirteenth century Edward I began a process of unprecedented reform of the administration of law, both civil and criminal, in English realm. Edwardian reforms ranged from basic and high profile legal changes, such as making the crime of rape a felony, to more subtle developments, such as promoting a new and more professionalized class of royal justices and administrators. Under Edward I, and his successors, the crown challenged the right of local lords to administer their own law and justice, promoting the application of English common law principals in local jurisdictions, and ultimately encouraging what has been called the `triumph of the common law¿. Subsequently, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the machinery of English criminal and civil law took on a life of its own, as a ponderous bureaucracy, which in turn shaped the common law it was established to administer into the skeleton of the English legal system until modern times. This module tracks the transformation of the theory and practice of later medieval English common law from trial by battle and ordeal, to a battle of wits between trained attorneys. This module is the second part of a two-part Special Subject concerning the development and spread of English Common Law in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, and introduces students to the main historical debates and primary sources for the study of medieval common law. It places great emphasis on the use of records of legal cases as `real-world¿ examples, and medieval literary criticisms of the law.

  • HIL227 Medieval Britain 1250-1461

    This module focuses on British history, 1250-1520, and investigates the relationship between the peoples of England, France, Scotland, Ireland and Wales during a period of intense warfare. It considers issues of domination, conquest, nationalism, patriotism and ethnicity, and looks at the nation as a social, economic and cultural unit (eg. the rise of the English language as a political and literary medium). By looking at the Jews and those termed `alien¿ in England, it also reflects on attitudes towards the `other¿ in medieval society.

  • HIMM02 Research Folder

    A course designed to help students to identify their dissertation subject, to prepare for it bibliographically, and to plan its research and writing.

  • HIMM04 Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 2: Themes and Sources

    This module aims to apply the skills and approaches learned in the module HIMM01: Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 1: Skills and Approaches to a range of important themes in Medieval Studies, including gender, identity, laws and customs, spirituality, heritage. The module is interdisciplinary and draws on historical, literary and visual sources. The content of the module will be arranged in 2-weekly blocks, with the first week in each block dedicated to introducing students to the specific theme and the second week being used as a practical application of this knowledge to a source or text.

External Responsibilities

  • Fellow , Royal Historical Society

    2012 - Present

Key Grants and Projects

  • ‘Discord and Dispute Resolution: Litigating Jews in England, c. 1150-1290: a pilot study’ 2018 - 2020

    British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, and Jewish Historical Society of England Research Grant

Research Groups

  • Rethinking the Medieval Frontier

    Coordinated by Dr Jonathan Jarrett at the University of Leeds, this network aims, through the exploration of medieval frontiers of any and all geographical regions, to develop more flexible models of frontier than currently exist. For more visit https://rethinkingthefrontier.leeds.ac.uk