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Lords and Communities in Early Medieval East Anglia

Lords and Communities in Early Medieval East Anglia

Andrew Wareham
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 206
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81w7z
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  • Book Info
    Lords and Communities in Early Medieval East Anglia
    Book Description:

    The period between the late tenth and late twelfth centuries saw many changes in the structure and composition of the European and English aristocracy. One of the most important is the growth in local power bases and patrimonies at the expense of wider property and kinship ties. In this volume, the author uses the organisation of aristocracy in East Anglia as a case-study to explore the issue as a whole, considering the extent to which local families adopted national and European values, and investigating the role of local circumstances in the formulation of regional patterns and frameworks. The book is interdisciplinary in approach, using anthropological, economic and prosopographical research to analyse themes such as marriage and kinship, social mobility, relations between secular and ecclesiastical lords, ethnic groups, and patterns of economic growth amongst social groupings; there is a particular focus too on how different landscapes - fenland, upland, coastal and urban - affected the pattern of aristocratic experience. Dr ANDREW WAREHAM is a Research Associate at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College London.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-410-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of maps
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of family trees
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. List of tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. List of abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  9. [Maps]
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  10. Introduction: East Anglia and the Feudal Transformation
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book discusses the organization of aristocracy and society in medieval East Anglia, and takes as its central theme the role of the feudal transformation. The latter has been regarded by European historians as one of the key turning-points in the history of Europe, prefiguring and setting up the structures of power which would lead into the commercial and industrial revolutions.¹ Yet on the whole it has not been taken up as a point of debate in relation to the history of the British Isles;² perhaps the strong historiographical connections between the Norman Conquest and the establishment of feudalism within...

  11. Chapter 1 The Dynasty of Ealdorman Æthelwine and Tenth-Century Society
    (pp. 13-28)

    The fenlands in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire were described as a watery wilderness in the eighth century, but by the twelfth century the richness of the area’s resources as well as the reputation of its monastic houses led to a more confident view in ecclesiastical circles.³ The fenlands benefited from the onset of increasingly favourable ecological conditions as sea levels fell after c. 800, and by c. 1100 at least eleven monastic communities stood on islands in the fens and on the fen-edge. These monastic houses had by then become the most important landholders in the region and had established economic...

  12. Chapter 2 The Kindred of Wulfstan of Dalham and Tenth-Century Society
    (pp. 29-45)

    This account of the destruction of Ely Abbey by the Vikings at the end of the ninth century formed part of an Ely myth, which claimed that there had been a hiatus in monastic life between the achievements of the double monastery (founded in the late seventh century) and the re-establishment of monastic life in the late tenth century by Bishop Æthelwold. Although the Ely sources recognized that a community of priests had existed at Ely Abbey during the mid tenth century, their shortcomings led to the view that the period between 870 and 970 comprised a ‘missing’ century in...

  13. Chapter 3 The Daughters of Ealdorman Ælfgar and the Localization of Power in the Late Tenth Century
    (pp. 46-60)

    Ælfflæd set out a plea that King Æthelræd II should protect the small collegiate foundation of Stoke-by-Nayland which stands between Sudbury and Hadleigh on the crest of the ridge overlooking the valleys of the Stour and Box rivers in south-east Suffolk. The proportions of the present-day church coincide with an Anglo-Saxon layout, and the churchyard perhaps marks the boundaries of the pre-Conquest cemetery.² Ælfflæd’s statement draws attention to her over-riding concern with the security of this community in preference to the great Benedictine abbeys associated with national frameworks of power, such as Ely Abbey, where her husband was buried.³ Such...

  14. Chapter 4 Ealdorman Byrhtnoth’s Kindred and the Formation of Lineage Identity in the Early Eleventh Century¹
    (pp. 61-77)

    The twelfth-century account of the events surrounding the battle of Maldon established a myth which helped to separate secular and ecclesiastical responsibilities. From an Ely perspective lay benefactors donated estates in exchange for prayers, burial and other religious services carried out by the monks, but monastic power was not to be applied to the furthering of secular agendas.³ Although Byrhtnoth was killed in 991 at Maldon while campaigning against the Vikings,⁴ the reality of his historical relationships with the community at Ely does not square with the Liber Eliensis’ account. The arising task is threefold: first, to establish the nature...

  15. Chapter 5 The Social Order Reshaped and the Emergence of the Gentry in the Early Eleventh Century
    (pp. 78-94)

    During the first third of the eleventh century there was a change in the social order in East Anglia. Patterns of power which had prevailed during the tenth century came to exercise a less dominant influence within communities and social groupings. There was not only a shift in the interests of the great dynasties who had formerly controlled comital offices, but there was also a transformation in the relationship between secular and ecclesiastical power, which acted as a catalyst for a wider series of changes. Taken with the evidence from the previous two chapters, there were three critical changes in...

  16. Chapter 6 The Formation of Lordships and Economic Transformations during the Mid Eleventh Century
    (pp. 95-111)

    The account of William Malet’s completion of a castle at Eye appears in Little Domesday Book because of its economic impact upon the market at Hoxne. The quotation serves to illustrate why medievalists have argued that the encastellation of the European landscape altered economic paths of growth, and reshaped military and political institutions. The next two chapters assess the circumstances in which lords invested in residence-church-market centres of lordship,² such as that established at Eye c. 1066x86, and the ways in which they transformed economic relationships with dependent peasantries during the eleventh century. Before discussing the local contexts of these...

  17. Chapter 7 Landscapes of Lordship and Political Transformations during the Mid Eleventh Century
    (pp. 112-124)

    The monks of Walden were sceptical of the commitment of their founder and principal patron, Earl Geoffrey de Mandeville II (d. 1144), to ensure that the community would have a prosperous future, thereby sustaining its religious and cultural activities for the benefit of the dynasty and its tenants. This apparent lack of concern on the part of the Mandeville family, whose interests and advancement in the Anglo-Norman period had been defined by Königsnähe, may be part of a spectrum of attitudes towards ecclesiastical power which differentiated the court nobility of the eleventh century from their tenth-century predecessors. After all the...

  18. Chapter 8 The Regional Aristocracy and Social Mobility before the Norman Conquest
    (pp. 125-138)

    In eleventh-century East Anglia lords who were associated with the regional aristocracy and the court nobility invested in seigneurial centres of lordship and in the land in ways which differed from the economic strategies of secular nobles during the tenth century. Such developments resemble the evolution of society in regions of France, as identified in studies of the feudal transformation, and thereby point to a real change in European society. This view argues against those who claim that the feudal transformation merely represents an appearance of change created by variations in the form and content of sources. The debate, though,...

  19. Chapter 9 The Regional Aristocracy and Social Mobility during and after the Norman Conquest
    (pp. 139-154)

    The Norman Conquest reshaped English society not only because Norman, Breton and other dynasties from France replaced English families, but also because of the changes in structures of lordship and property law.¹ Other significant developments have been set out by archaeologists, diplomatic historians, palaeographers, numismatists and architectural historians, to name only the most obvious examples, with the result that academic syntheses are becoming that much harder to write.² By focusing, though, upon social mobility during and after the Norman Conquest it is possible to address a wide range of themes, ranging from economic paths of growth to the relationships between...

  20. Epilogue
    (pp. 155-159)

    Power of Place: the Future of the Historic Environment, calls for research which leads into ‘“a revelation and appreciation of local ‘treasures’”’.¹ It illuminates its case by closing with two photographic images which depict medieval churches in Suffolk and Gloucestershire,² thereby communicating the role of the medieval built environment in serving as a platform for association and community in the current age. New schools are built in the localities of medieval parish churches and named after them, and each year at the Glastonbury Music Festival around 250,000 people gather under the Tor, crowned by its fifteenth-century church tower. Meanwhile, around...

  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 160-174)
  22. Index
    (pp. 175-186)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 187-187)