There has never been an isolated, insular “Little England”, with migrants arriving throughout the Middle Ages and influencing the nation’s language, culture and identity, according to a new history.
Economic migration was far more commonplace in medieval England than is traditionally thought, the authors suggest: it was not just invading armies and powerful, wealthy families of Europe who helped to shape England’s history and heritage.
“People often do not realise that migration is central to English history through time,” said Joanna Story, professor of early medieval history at the University of Leicester and co-editor of Migrants in Medieval England, c. 500- c.1500. “It’s viewed as a post-war phenomenon, and people from migrant backgrounds may think migration is new to British society. That’s just not fair or right. Britain has always been made up of layers and layers and layers of incomers.”
Migrants typically arrived in England – which was