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North-East England, 1569-1625

North-East England, 1569-1625: Governance, Culture and Identity

Diana Newton
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    North-East England, 1569-1625
    Book Description:

    This study of England's north-eastern parts examines counties Durham and Northumberland as well as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with its central theme the extent to which the county gentry and urban elites possessed a sense of regional identity. It concentrates on these elites' social, political, religious and cultural connections which extended beyond the purely administrative jurisdictions of the county or town. By concentrating on a series of seismic changes in the area - the demise of its great regional magnates, the rapid upsurge of the coal industry and the union of the crowns - it offers a distinctive chronological coverage, from the latter half of the sixteenth century through to the early seventeenth century. Old stereotypes of the north-eastern landed elites as isolated and backward are overturned while their response to state formation reveals their political sophistication. Traditional views of the religious conservatism of the north-eastern parts are reassessed to demonstrate its multi-faceted complexion. And contrasting cultural patterns are analysed, through ballad literature, the cult of St Cuthbert and increasing exposure to metropolitan "civility", to reveal a series of sub-regions within the north-eastern reaches of the kingdom. Dr DIANA NEWTON is Lecturer in History at the University of Teesside.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-495-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. x-x)
  6. 1 Introduction: questions of regional identity
    (pp. 1-21)

    In the final, long, drawn out days of Elizabeth I’s life, Sir John Carey, the deputy governor of the garrison town of Berwick, appealed urgently to Sir Robert Cecil, the queen’s principal secretary. ‘What should I do here,’ he demanded, ‘not knowing how or for whom to keep this place, being only in the devil’s mouth, a place that will be first assailed, and I not being instructed what course to hold.’¹ These were perilous times. With no heir to the English throne formally nominated, he was terrified that he would be an early victim should the Scottish king James...

  7. 2 Elites of and in north-eastern England
    (pp. 22-43)

    Elites are the more privileged members of society exercising the greatest authority or enjoying the highest standing. They are the people who govern and command, who regulate, sanction and discipline others, and who receive concomitant privileges and acquire exclusivity amongst their fellows in return.

    In the mid-sixteenth century this tended to be those of gentry status and above. But identifying precisely who constituted the gentry ‘plunges us immediately into a quagmire’.¹ Applying modern methodologies to assess its precise composition based on perceptions, legal definitions, or even land-holding and wealth,‘inevitably involves building “guestimates” upon one another’, so that it is difficult...

  8. 3 The governance and governors of north-eastern England
    (pp. 44-65)

    It has been argued that, from the tenth century onwards, the English had a strong sense of regnal identity that was predicated on loyalty to a monarch from whom they derived justice and protection.¹ In the sixteenth century this sense of Englishness was made more explicit, as church and state were fused, parliament devised new local structures designed to integrate England economically, socially and legally, and liberties and franchises were abolished.² Traditional analyses of Tudor state formation have concentrated on the southern and eastern parts of England and concluded that their centralising policies were ultimately successful. A reassessment of this...

  9. 4 North-east elites and the crisis of border government
    (pp. 66-93)

    This chapter looks at how contemporaries regarded the north-eastern corner of England, which, from at least the fourteenth century, and into the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, was consistently portrayed in negative terms.¹ In particular, it was maintained that the far north of Northumberland, together with the western parts of Durham, was unusually subject to external threats, whilst also being virtually ungovernable. But how did central government respond to these characterisations, especially in the troubled 1590s, when the country was simultaneously facing economic distress and involved in expensive foreign wars? Then, in March 1603, the northeastern parts were fundamentally...

  10. 5 Civil society in north-eastern England
    (pp. 94-116)

    The Tudors had endeavoured to achieve state formation through the imposition of a general ‘English civility’ upon the whole kingdom. Yet Steve Ellis has argued that their ambitions ultimately were doomed to failure in the marcher societies of the borderlands, especially in Northumberland: a failure, explained by Tudor officials, because its inhabitants were not really civil Englishmen at all.¹ These negative observations were not confined to Northumberland. Mervyn James claimed that it took early modern Durham almost a hundred and fifty years for a (Hobbesian) ‘civil society’ to emerge out of the more archaic society that obtained there: a society...

  11. 6 Religious identities
    (pp. 117-142)

    As part of the truism that the North of England was uncivilised, primitive and retarded, it was held that nowhere was this more apparent than in its religious character, which was marked by its persistent adherence to Roman Catholicism in the face of the Protestant reformations of the sixteenth century.¹ But this is to adopt a rigid, binary interpretation of the religious complexion of England in the early modern period. For it has been convincingly argued that it is misleading to see the English Reformation as a ‘struggle between two tightly consolidated blocs . . . facing each other across...

  12. 7 Cultural identities
    (pp. 143-162)

    According to Mervyn James, the diocese of Durham was ‘saddled’ with a ‘sense of history’. He explained that ‘inevitable decline and “decay” ’ meant they turned to their ancient traditions as a means of escape from the uncertainties of the world in which they lived, and, instead, contemplated the glories of their antiquity.¹ This coincided with a growing interest by the county gentry at large in antiquarian studies, led by scholars such as William Camden, who began compiling hisBritanniain the 1570s. In part, the elites’ heightened regard for the ‘past’ was driven by a determination to validate (or...

  13. 8 Conclusion: regional identity and the elites of north-eastern England
    (pp. 163-174)

    When William Cuningham wrote hisCosmographical glasse, in 1559, to help readers understand and use astronomy and mathematics for geographical computations, he promised that ‘Regions, Prouinces, Ilandes, Cities, Townes, Villages, Hilles: also the commodities of euerye Countrye, the natures of the Inhabitauntes, Lawes, Rightes, and Customes’ would be ‘exactlye described’.¹ The region, thus, was just one of the geographical terms current in the sixteenth century and only one of several manifestations of the physical space by which the elites of the north-eastern parts of England might have identified themselves. However, the notion of regions was not yet given widespread application....

  14. Appendix: Elites of and in the north-eastern counties of England
    (pp. 175-180)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-200)
  16. Index
    (pp. 201-214)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-215)