Ready to Disport with You: Homosocial Culture amongst the Wool Merchants of Fifteenth-century Calais

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    Abstract

    This article centres on an archery match played in August 1478 by wool merchants living in Calais, at that time an English-occupied town. I analyse how the invitation to play a competitive but friendly game between fellow freemen of the wool Staple reiterated masculine social norms and strengthened corporate bonds in a fraternity setting. Set in the wider context of the Calais wool merchant community, the archery match provides the perfect example of homosocial enculturation. In earlier scholarship, sports have typically been seen as a location for a stereotypical hegemonic masculinity based on divisive competition, where the struggle for dominance requires a victor. What happened in Calais in 1478 was more complex, but no less reinforcing of hegemonic social norms: an elite masculine culture, the company of the Staple, was celebrated through a complex blending of competition, collaboration and ultimately reintegration into a corporate whole.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1–21
    Number of pages21
    JournalHistory Workshop Journal
    Volume86
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2018

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