Susan Reynolds

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Susan Reynolds (born 1929) is a British medieval historian whose book Fiefs and Vassals: the Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted (1994) was part of the attack on the concept of feudalism as classically portrayed by previous historians such as François-Louis Ganshof and Marc Bloch.


She took a first degree at the University of Oxford and took her first job as an archivist at the Middlesex County Record Office. A year later she joined the Victoria County History as an editor, remaining there for seven years and taking a diploma in archival administration.[1]

Reynolds believes that the technical terms used in documents prior to around 1100 do not necessarily hold the meanings hitherto ascribed to them; and that clerks of later periods tended to read into earlier documents meanings and relationships current in their own day. In her view, direct ownership of land was more prevalent in the early Middle Ages than has been thought, and the decline of central authority has been exaggerated.

She is an Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.


  • Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe 900-1300, Oxford, 1997.
  • Ideas and Solidarities of the Medieval Laity : England and Western Europe, 1995.
  • Fiefs and Vassals. The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted, 1994.
  • Introduction to the History of English Medieval Towns, 1977.



  1. ^ Making History interview with Susan Reynolds, dated 27 March 2008, at, accessed 12 November 2014

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