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The Lancashire Gentry in the Early Fourteenth Century, c. 1300 – 1360



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Welle, Gunnar Andreas 


Abstract The Lancashire Gentry in the Early Fourteenth Century, c. 1300 – 1360 The topic of this dissertation is the gentry of Lancashire in the years from 1298 to 1361. It is a prosopographical study involving a limited number of prominent families, selected on the basis of status, tenure and service. After introductory chapters on the historiography of the field and the special circumstances of the county, there are chapters describing how these families were ordered socially, how they served in official capacities, and how they interacted with each other, the nobility, and the crown. In the second part, the same issues are analysed chronologically, to explore how circumstances changed over time, and were affected by external factors. Though the scope of the thesis is defined by the tenure of the county’s dominant noble family – the earls, later duke, of Lancaster – the chronological chapters are divided according to events of local significance. The first gentry studies of late medieval England tended to focus on the fifteenth century. As a consequence, the assumptions made for this period have often been applied also to the fourteenth. This study does not find the structures of bastard feudalism so familiar from the fifteenth and late fourteenth centuries, where a lord relied on his affinity not only for military recruitment, but also for control of the localities through official work and influence on the judiciary. Yet the county differed in too many ways from the rest of the nation for these results to be taken as representative. At the same time, those same particularities allow an interesting study of how, as central government extended its reach, the situation at the centre affected local affairs. The county also provides multiple examples of measures taken, with varying degrees of success, by the gentry, nobility and crown to settle disputes and combat lawlessness. All in all, Lancashire highlights the great level of regional variety that characterised fourteenth-century England. Gunnar A. Welle





Carpenter, Christine


Gentry, Lancashire, Fourteenth century, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Thomas of Lancaster, Henry of Lancaster, Henry of Grosmont, Black Death, Hundred Years' War


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund