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The Staffordshire political community 1440-1500

Rowney, Ian Douglas

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Ian Douglas Rowney


The general aim of this thesis is to produce a portrait of Staffordshire society during the Wars of the Roses. The chapters illustrate the many roles played by the local gentry and nobility-county administrator, soldier, estate holder and/or officer, litigant, retainer and kinsman- and bow these were interrelated. The second chapter carries the burden of the narrative besides being primarily about the major offices of county government and the ways in which these might be exploited by appointees (and, where appropriate, by their patrons). The other chapters, not chronologically structured, concentrate on specialised offices (e.g. chapter III on the Church and chapter IV on forests) and. social relationships in such spheres as crime, service and marriage. The thesis' overall structure and content have been largely determined by the nature of the surviving evidence. Between 1440 and 1500 the 'rule' of Staffordshire passed through a number of hands, with each change-over Illustrating a different 'model' of magnate influence in local affairs. In the 1440s and 1450s the Staffords dominated through control of the quarter of the county that was royal land and as the leading land holding family with an affinity built up over generations. Throughout the Yorkist era preeminence lay with lords new to Staffordshire, who, though powerful at court, struggled to win local support and realise this at the muster. By Henry Vii's reign the indigenous lay nobility, like its clerical counterpart, had lost most of its political muscle. Power was increasingly drawn into the bands of the leading gentry, especially those appointed to and diligent in local offices. Perquisites went to local men rather than out-of-county favoured courtiers, though forest sinecures were occasionally an exception. Similarly, crime and marriage were local affairs, as befitted. a quiet and impoverished county far from the madding crowd.

Publication Date Jan 1, 1981


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