Gaunt, Sarah K. (2018) English Political Propaganda, 1377–1485. Doctoral thesis, The University of Huddersfield.

Previous historiography on propaganda has focused on particular themes or time periods; this thesis provides a comprehensive and inclusive analysis drawing on a multidisciplinary approach to encompass the period c.1377-1485. The main conclusion is that propaganda was more prevalent and involved a larger proportion of the polity than previously thought. A conceptual framework based upon certain criteria used in Jacques Ellul’s, Propaganda the Formation of Men’s Attitudes, has been adopted to help define and identify propaganda. One of the dominant themes is the prerequisite of communication to enable the propagandist to reach his audience and the opportunities available to do so. An examination of the various methods available, from official sources to rebel manifestoes, together with the physical communication network required demonstrates that there existed a nationwide environment where this was possible. The literary media used for propaganda include proclamations, poetry, letters, and bills. The political audience was broad in terms of understanding of literary and visual forms of communication and their ability to use the available mechanisms to convey their opinions. Whether it was a disgruntled magnate, merchant or yeoman farmer, there was a method of communication suited to their circumstances. Visual propaganda was particularly important in politically influencing an audience, particularly for a largely illiterate population. This is an area that is often overlooked in terms of political influence until the Tudor period. The use of the human body will be a particular focus along with the more traditional aspects of art, such as heraldry. The thesis considers the relationship between kings’ personality, policy and propaganda. What emerges is that the personality of the monarch was essentially more influential than the use of propaganda. Finally, incorporating the analysis of the previous chapters, the North, is examined as a regional example of the presence and impact of propaganda. The North was a subject of propaganda itself and there was a two-way flow of communication and propaganda between the North and Westminster revealing the political consciousness of the region and its role as an audience. The overall argument of the thesis is that communication within the late medieval polity was essential and extensive. Propaganda was frequently used through a variety of media that could reach the whole polity, whether literate or not and not only in times of crisis.

Final thesis (1).pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email