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Anarchy: War and Status in 12th-Century Landscapes of Conflict$
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Oliver Creighton and Duncan Wright

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781781382424

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781382424.001.0001

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Anarchy on the Fen Edge: Case Study of the Isle of Ely

Anarchy on the Fen Edge: Case Study of the Isle of Ely

(p.251) Chapter 9 Anarchy on the Fen Edge: Case Study of the Isle of Ely
Anarchy: War and Status in 12th-Century Landscapes of Conflict

Oliver H. Creighton

Duncan W. Wright

Michael Fradley

Steven Trick

Liverpool University Press

This chapter provides a detailed case study of the campaigns in and around the Isle of Ely in the twelfth century. The circumstances of a wealthy but isolated region, combined with a rebel heritage, explain the prominent place of the Isle of Ely during the Anarchy, although the region’s experience in the civil war was also unusually severe. Even in the context of a conflict where the ravaging of estates was endemic the fenlands suffered especially high levels of destruction to a fragile agricultural base. Stephen’s response to Geoffrey de Mandeville’s fenland rebellion in 1143–44 also saw the largest-scale programme of royal castle-building recorded in the civil war. The scale and sophistication of individual fortifications, all keyed into local landscapes, are revealed by archaeological evidence, as exemplified by the royal campaign castle at Burwell, Cambridgeshire.

Keywords:   campaign, causeway, devastation, Ely, fen, island, Geoffrey de Mandeville, Hereward the Wake, rebellion, siege

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