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Edward III and the English Peerage

Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility and Political Control in Fourteenth-Century England

J. S. Bothwell
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 242
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  • Book Info
    Edward III and the English Peerage
    Book Description:

    Patronage was central to medieval kingship, and a crucial facet of royal power. This book, the first in-depth examination of this crucial facet of royal power, offers a detailed analysis of how Edward III, one of the most successful and, to use a modern term, charismatic of medieval English monarchs, used royal favour to create a 'new nobility' and to reward and control the established peerage. Dr Bothwell shows how judicious use of largesse helped to produce domestic stability and encouraged the successful prosecution of foreign wars. Further, the study demonstrates how the nature of royal patronage came to reflect changes in feudalism, land law, finance, and the Church and the consequences of these changes for the more general history of medieval patronage, the evolution of the Lords and Commons, and the state of royal power both at the centre and in the localities. Overall, it is a clear, concise study of how Edward III used patronage to reposition the monarchy after the vicissitudes of his father's reign and a problematic minority. J.S. BOTHWELL is Lecturer in Later Medieval English History, University of Leicester.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-230-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    DESPITE the pessimistic eulogy of at least one fifteenth-century poet, and most historical opinion prior to the 1950s,² Edward III’s reign (1327–77) is now rated as one of the most successful of the English Middle Ages. Raised in the court of his father, Edward II, a generally unpopular king deposed in 1327, Edward III came to power in his own right in 1330 after the overthrow of his guardians, his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. At first preoccupied with the Disinheriteds’ campaign against the Bruce line, by 1337 he had entered into a war with France,...

  6. PART ONE New Parliamentary Peerage Creations, 1330–77:: the Sources and Uses of Royal Patronage

    • 1 The ‘New’ Nobility
      (pp. 15-27)

      TO VARYING DEGREES, all medieval English monarchs promoted underlings, supporters and/or friends during their reigns. Henry I’s promotions were made up of ‘men raised from the dust’² – Geoffrey de Clinton, Ralph Basset, Rainer of Bath and Hugh of Buckland, to name but four – individuals with, at best, obscure origins who rose in the king’s service as well as in personal wealth. These were the men who had helped Henry I regain firm monarchical control of England after the reign of an unpopular, elder brother (William Rufus) and a succession disputed by another, belatedly ambitious, one (Robert Curthose). Although Henry’s were...

    • 2 Mechanisms of Royal Largesse
      (pp. 28-45)

      HAVING NOW identified the various categories of ‘new men’ active in Edward III’s reign, it would next be helpful to examine the system which allowed the king to distribute royal favour. Recorded originally in the Charter Rolls, Patent Rolls, Fine Rolls or sometimes the Close Rolls, the general form of official acts of royal patronage was more or less set by the fourteenth century – with most grants recording the date and place of the act, the name of the grantee, the terms of the grant, the authorisation under which the grant was made, and, at times, the witnesses present. Nonetheless,...

    • 3 Royal Feudal Rights
      (pp. 46-77)

      FEUDALISM, especially as it developed in England after the Norman Conquest, was the main system of bonds between monarch and subject. In theory, the primary aspect of this relationship – the exchange of a variety of services in return for land or other forms of reward – was both firmly structured and, to a degree at least, symbiotic. However, from an early stage a secondary characteristic of this relationship, the production of so-called ‘feudal incidents’ through births, marriages, criminal transgressions and deaths of royal tenants-in-chief – namely rights of wardship and marriage, forfeitures, escheats, and reliefs – became an integral part of the monarch’s...

    • 4 Annuities and Assignments
      (pp. 78-92)

      UNFORTUNATELY for Edward III’s new nobility, appropriate sources of landed income, long or short term, were not always available at the time of endowment. Until these could be found, the king used other means to sustain these individuals – something done mainly through payments from various sources of royal revenue. Undeniably, though financial patronage was often a ‘secondary indicator of importance’, as one historian has called it for Henry I’s reign,¹ nonetheless, it remained a very useful and important one throughout the Middle Ages. Though whether Anglo-Norman kings favoured money fiefs for ordinary patronage to household knights is now open to...

    • 5 Routine Patronage
      (pp. 93-110)

      AS SEEN in the preceding chapters, Edward III’s patronage programme was essentially demarcated by a mixture of the resources open to him at any given time, his ability to dictate how they were used, and the interests of his new men. But, though he had greater control than previous kings over the resources coming into his hands due to developments in land tenure and royal finance, as well as in administrative offices such as that of escheator, there was still a degree of chance as to what patronage was available to grant out at any particular moment. Indeed, while the...

  7. PART TWO The Impact and Rationale of Edward III’s Patronage

    • 6 Contemporary Response
      (pp. 113-137)

      EDWARD III’s patronage to his new men came from the resources outlined in the preceding chapters. Although these resources could be similar to those available in previous reigns,² the ways in which they were used in the period 1330–77 could vary considerably from their earlier use. In some ways, Edward’s royal patronage programme knew no previous equal, particularly considering its link with the development of an official parliamentary peerage. Indeed, by taking on the task of promoting sixty-eight men over the course of the reign and finding the resources to support them – to the extent of giving varying levels...

    • 7 Distribution of Royal Favour
      (pp. 138-153)

      PREVIOUS chapters have looked at Edward III’s patronage to a group of ‘new’ supporters and its reception. Unprecedented in its scope and focus, and clearly connected with concurrent or future membership in the parliamentary peerage, it was a massive, if not entirely realised, programme and, as such, was bound to have a considerable impact. Having examined the background, sources, implementation and reaction to Edward’s patronage, we are now ready to reanalyse both the motivation and the impact of this king’s endowments of his ‘new men’, and place it had within the larger framework of royal patronage to the English peerage...

    • 8 Kings, the Parliamentary Peerage and Royal Patronage in the Later Middle Ages
      (pp. 154-160)

      THIS is the received wisdom as to how Edward III managed his nobility – much as, it has been argued, Henry I and other kings had done with varying degrees of enthusiasm, competence and success before him.² Moreover, it has generally been accepted that for Edward III and his predecessors this strategy was for the sake of foreign wars and control at home. Both seem simple, logical assertions to make.

      However, as we have seen, the ‘how’ of Edward III’s patronage programme is not as it first appears. From the evidence presented, it is clear that a simple, wide and level...

  8. Appendix Key
    (pp. 163-164)
  9. Appendix One The Definition of ‘New Men’ and other Limitations on this Study
    (pp. 165-166)
  10. Appendix Two Careers of Major Players (1330–77)
    (pp. 167-169)
  11. Appendix Three Escheats, Expectancies, and Forfeitures
    (pp. 170-183)
  12. Appendix Four Marriage Rights and Arrangements
    (pp. 184-191)
  13. Appendix Five Wardships and Custodies
    (pp. 192-199)
  14. Appendix Six Annuities
    (pp. 200-205)
  15. Appendix Seven Principal Geographical Interests of New Men
    (pp. 206-208)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 209-221)
  17. Index
    (pp. 222-238)