Dependence, service, and reward were fundamental concepts in medieval society, to a degree which our allegedly egalitarian and democratic mindsets find difficult to grasp. They operated at every social level and, formally or informally, bound together the different ‘orders’ of society in a complex web of relationships—king and subjects, lords and followers, tenants (including unfree tenants) and their manorial masters. But there are problems for the historian in trying to characterize the nature and scope of these relationships.
Two in particular may be cited at this prefatory stage. Dependence is a vague, elastic concept; it lacks the specificity and ‘hard’ content which makes it amenable to historical analysis and measurement. This alone becomes possible when what we may call the ‘documents of dependence’ begin to survive—such as the feudal charters of the twelfth century onwards which stipulate the tenurial obligations of vassals to lords or, from the later thirteenth century in particular, the indentures of retinue which specify the terms on which retainers entered formally into the service of a lord.1 The appearance of such documents is itself a matter of historical importance. It marks part of the triumph of the written word (ius scriptum) in the definition of human relationships and obligations. It is little wonder that historians have paid such attention to these documents—witness the intensive study of indentures of retinue in late medieval English historiography; they provide a secure documentary foothold in what is otherwise a sea of vague abstractions. With this, however, comes the danger that we mistake novelty of documentation for novelty of institutions and relationship.
The second reservation we need to bear in mind is that documentation, especially formal documentation, constructs the world of relationships on its own terms and in furtherance of its own agenda. Historians can become its prisoners as well as its beneficiaries. This, as has been frequently pointed out, can apply, for example, to the centrality given to bonds of feudal tenure. It is not that they are necessarily important; but they were kept alive in the documentation often for reasons of intense legal conservatism.2 Perhaps, above
1 For the latter development see S. L. Waugh, ‘Tenure to Contract: Lordship and Clientage in Thirteenth-Century England’, EHR, 101 (1986), 811—39.
2 A. A. M. Duncan has some characteristically trenchant and shrewd comments on the ‘tired’ vocabulary of feudal terminology in Scotland in his Scotland, chs. 7—8.
all, concentration on particular genres of documentation can direct analysis to restricted interpretations of the complexity and variety of ties of dependence: those that can be documented, measured, and itemized.
Lordship was built around the concepts of dependence and service. Beyond the specific obligations and rewards that it brought for both parties (lord and dependant) lay a whole set of expectations within which it was structured and interpreted. At its heart, as we have noticed, was an essentially personal relationship. The acceptance of lordship was inaugurated, often formally and ceremonially, by the proclamation of this personal relationship of dependence. The feudal vassal did so by doing homage and swearing fealty to his lord. By the later Middle Ages such ceremonies may appear increasingly formal and routine; but when we note the vigour with which men such as the Black Prince and John of Gaunt assembled their feudal tenants to perform homage to them publicly we must surely recognize that this was a relationship which still had life and meaning to it. Such life may have been primarily fiscal—the exaction of feudal incidents such as custody, wardship, and marriage; but it was also assuredly a visual display of the dependence and control which were at the heart of lordship.
Nor was this insistence on the choreography of personal lordship confined to the knightly, feudal classes. It applied equally in a modified form down the social scale. When a tenant came into the manor court to be invested with a tenement, he was expected to swear an oath of fealty to the lord’s steward in full court.3 Other obligations—including the payment of an entry fine—were normally part of the contract; but in a society where the aural and visual were so crucial in establishing the formality and publicity of relationships, the oath of fealty was certainly not without significance. It was regularly copied into formulary books both in England and in Scotland.4 It had legal consequence: the tenant was now in a real sense the lord’s ‘man’: he was subjected to obligations on the one hand, and was entitled to receive protection on the other. That the bond was essentially personal, not territorial, was particularly clear in a category of dependants which is well known in Wales and Ireland, and probably likewise in much of upland Britain. In Wales they were known as advowry men: they did not hold land directly of the lord nor were they members of the kindred and lineage groups from whom the lord collected tributes and renders. But they had acknowledged the lord’s personal authority over them, paying him a token annual sum in recognition of the relationship. To use the term familiar to students of Anglo-Saxon and early medieval lordship, they had commended themselves to him. Nor were their numbers trivial: in the lordship of Bromfield and Yale (north-east Wales) in 1391 they numbered 857. They held no land as
3 F. Pollock & F. W. Maitland, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, 2 vols., reissued with an introduction by S. F. C. Milsom (Cambridge, 1968), I, 296—307.
4 For Scottish example see Moray Reg., nos. 299—300.
such from the lord nor did they pay him rent; but they were certainly within the orbit of his lordship and ultimately justiciable by him.5 They were among his dependants.
It is perhaps from an unexpected quarter—late medieval Scotland—that we are reminded yet again how fundamental was this personal bond of lordship and dependence, and how its significance did not necessarily decline over time. Some eight hundred ‘bonds of manrent’, as they are termed, have survived from late medieval and early modern Scotland. Their significance extends far beyond Scotland (though they have been little noticed beyond it) because they open a window on to the personal bond of lordship and away from tenurial obligations. The essence of the bond was that the dependant gave the bond to the lord (not vice versa) and in return secured maintenance and protection—with the bond often extending to the dependant’s kin, men, and friends as well as to himself. It involved no land nor an annuity or pension as such. It corresponded closely to the homage of the feudal oath and as such dwelt in the world of ‘the intangible, the personal relationships between lords and their men’,6 the baseline of all lordship and dependency.
Such a relationship operated at a collective and communal, as well as at a personal and individual, level. When a new lord visited his lordship—whether it came to him by inheritance or by royal grant—he inaugurated his arrival by insisting on a public acknowledgement of his lordship (just as the king did so by the ceremony of acclamation at his coronation). Three examples may be cited; they are all from Wales but there is no reason to think that in their essence and format they were not replicated elsewhere in the British Isles. The first took place at Wrexham (lordship of Bromfield and Yale in north-east Wales) in 1284 when the heir of the earl of Surrey took formal possession of the lordship—and with it the service of its inhabitants—from his father. Twenty-nine leading men of the lordship did homage to their new lord individually, followed by a communal act of homage by the rest of the tenants ‘with hands raised and joined unanimously’.7 This splendid spectacle was repeated in another great and valuable lordship, Brecon, in 1302, when royal commissioners formally took seisin of the lordship on behalf of the king (in a deal he had made with the earl of Hereford) and took the fealty of two thousand Welshman through an interpreter. Even more impressive was the way that Edward, the Black Prince, inaugurated his rule in north Wales—and doubtless through the rest of his principality lands in 1343. His commissioners travelled around each district, assembling the leading men and requiring an oath of fealty from them (reminiscent of the Ragman Roll of 1296 which recorded individually the names of 1,600 individuals in Scotland
5 Davies, Lordship and Society, 139.
6 The quotation is from p. 2 of J. Wormald’s outstanding Lords and Men in Scotland.
7 CIPM, II, no. 633 (but inadequately calendared); CIM 1219—1317, no. 1870.
who had submitted to Edward I).8 Likewise when the relationship between the lord and his dependants was fractured, it had to be formally and visually repaired in a great public act of contrition and reaffirmation. So it was, to take another Welsh example, that in March 1414 a series of assemblies was held in north Wales—there were said to be 600 men present at the one at Bala—in which the local community apologized for its rebellion and renewed its personal submission to its lord, the king.9
What was basically entered into in such a relationship was a set of abstract commitments (to which specific obligations could, of course, be added). As with friendship, so with dependence it was a human bond and obligation which was at its heart. It came as no surprise that it borrowed the vague terminology of an earlier age. To be faithful (fidelis) was the prime obligation, and what that entailed was the giving of aid (auxilium) and advice (consilium), two of the oldest and vaguest words in the lexicon of medieval dependence.10 There was talk of the lord’s ‘honour’ and ‘right’ and the need to uphold and defend them and of ‘taking the lord’s part in all his actions’. There was even an echo of the language of family sentiments and the ethic of friendship—of the need for the dependant to show ‘good cousinship and total benevolence’ (bonecousinage et entiere naturesse).11
The relationship between lord and dependant varied hugely, of course, according to the relative status and powers of the two parties. Between near equals it was close to an alliance; between lord and tenant it was very much de haut en bas—‘humble and obedient in body and chattels’ as a serf might be described. But even the serf was the serf of the lord, nativus domini; and there was an element of mutuality in the relationship. Lordship and dependence were constructed around this expectation of mutuality. Protection was the baseline obligation due from the lord. As a German legal handbook put it directly: ‘we should serve our lords for they protect us; if they do not protect us, justice does not oblige us to serve them.’12 Nor was such a promise of protection merely an idle boast. The letters of the Black Prince, for example, are full of the bluster and threats which he directed at those —including the archdeacon of Cornwall—who dared to extort money from his tenants or did not pay for their goods. 13 At all levels of society, protection—whether open or kept under wraps—was one of the most treasured facets of lordship. We should not underestimate its significance because it does not correspond to our notions of public order and governance.
8 The fealty roll of 1343 for Wales is published in Archaeologia Cambrensis: Original Documents Printed as a Supplement to the Journal. Vol 1, (London, 1877), cxlviii—clxxv.
9 See Davies, Owain Glyn Dwr, 2 and sources cited there.
10 See, for example, ‘Private Indentures’, no. 1 (1278).
11 ‘Private Indentures’, no. 77 (1389); no. 90 (1397).
12 Quoted from Schwabenspiegel c. 308 in Brunner, Land and Lordship, 200.
13 Reg BP, II, 7, 32; IV, 59.
To have a lord—whether he was called such or not—was the expectation. One danger is to limit the circuit of dependence to those for whom we have formal documentation of its existence. Of course, the reach of lordship extended much further than those who, according to the late medieval evidence, were in receipt of annuities or formally retained by a lord. Sometimes lords could blurt out the scope of their influence, even among the knightly classes. There was hardly a knight, so the earl of Leicester boasted, whom he could not overthrow if he refused the earl aid.14 It is a comment which could have been echoed down the centuries and across the British Isles. The format of the dependence varied and so did the ceremony which might inaugurate it. In much of Gaelic Ireland, for example, dependence was announced by ‘entering the house’ of the superior, being entertained by him and receiving his gifts. The ceremonies corresponded to those of homage and investiture, but the end result was the same.15
The Beauchamp affinity, it has been observed, ‘can best be described as a series of concentric circles with the earl at the centre’.16 This definition can serve as a general point of introduction to the range and scope of aristocratic dependence. Historians have, on the whole, compartmentalized their discussions of the operation of lordship within self-contained segments—from, for example, the groups of retainers (knights, gentry, and esquires by and large) who composed the lord’s indentured retinue, to the large groups of tenants and their families who lived on his manors/lordship and were financially and judicially answerable to him and his officials. Clearly the distinction between these groups of dependants—and the other groups between the two polarities—was huge and so, therefore, was the nature of lordship exercised over them. But equally we would be mistaken not to take note of the continuum that was involved in lordship at all social and economic levels. Just as our understanding of royal lordship should bring within its embrace the whole way in which a king’s authority and power (especially in England) impinged on all his subjects as well as his relationship with his magnates, so our interpretation of aristocratic lordship should be ecumenical. French historians have even tried to estimate the actual numbers of men who contributed to the resources of a seigneurie —1,800 being justiciable and 1,040 persons owing rent on one such seigneurie in Champagne.17
It is with this broad-based aspect of dependence that we begin. Lordship over men, as we have insisted, was the primary form of lordship, as was the collection
14 Jordan Fantosme, Chronicle, ed. R. C. Johnston (Oxford, 1981), 70.
15 For excellent discussions of the rituals of submission in Gaelic Ireland see Simms, From Kings to Warlords and M. T. Flanagan, Irish Society, Anglo-Norman Settlers, Angevin Kingship (Oxford, 1989).
16 C. Carpenter, ‘The Beauchamp Affinity: A Study of Bastard Feudalism at Work’, EHR, 95 (1980), 514—32 at p. 515.
17 P. Verdier, ‘La Construction d’une Seigneurie dans la Champagne du XIIIe siecle: Renier Acorre, seigneur de Gouaix (1257—1289)’, in Seigneurs et Seigneuries au Moyen Age (Paris, 1995), 99-110.
of tributary dues, food renders, and entertainment obligations.18 This pattern may have been substantially overlaid, especially in the lowlands, by other claims and relationships, notably dues from land and all that came in their wake. But if we take the British Isles as a whole what is striking (especially in the west and uplands) is the centrality of the leadership of men as a feature of lordship. Thus when King David II of Scotland transferred three named sheriffdoms to William, Lord Douglas, he bestowed upon him—in a significant phrase—‘the leading of the men’ of these sheriffdoms, and likewise in 1370 James Douglas was granted ‘leadership of all the men of his lands’.19 Some of these men were ‘tenants’ in that they held land tenurially of the lord, but most were not: it was simply that they lived within the orbit of the lord’s power and were thereby beholden, directly or indirectly, to him—at least when he made demands of them. Their relationship with the lord was often at one or indeed several removes: they might belong to lineage groups which acknowledged the lord’s ultimate superiority or they might be the dependants of gentry or lairds who were in turn in the lord’s orbit. The nature and even the terminology of dependence varied from place to place: lordship had to adjust to the landscape of existing social institutions and practices. Even so, the language of the dependent groups and their leaders is revealing: we hear of ‘people and liegemen’, ‘affinity’, ‘lynages’, ‘adherence’, ‘retanance’, and ‘nation’ (in the restricted sense of kinsmen); as for the lords themselves, we hear of ‘captain of the nation’, ‘principal of his nation’, ‘tam de natione quam de familid. Some of these terms were restricted to the western British Isles; but others were not. And at the root of many of them lies an echo of the vocabulary of family and kin leadership, some of the oldest features of lordship itself.
The ‘leadership of men’ dimension of lordship has tended to be underestimated by historians, partly because it was not tied to specific obligations but rather to a broad pool of contingency support and partly, no doubt, because in England in particular it operated within a framework of royal lordship and control. But it never lay far below the surface of the power structure of medieval society. When a lord wished to raise an army to display his power (and possibly to serve the king) it was to this pool of men that he turned. So, for example, did Edmund Mortimer, earl of March (d. 1381), whose military recruitment for the 1375 Breton expedition has been cited above.20 So even more obviously were the forces which the earls and great lords of Scotland and Ireland assembled in what were in effect ‘lands of war'. Even in ‘lands of peace' (as England certainly was in comparison) a lord could bare the teeth of his power, in periods of political turbulence, by drawing upon the service and loyalty of the men of his ‘country’. Such, for example, was much of the key to the success of Henry Bolingbroke’s coup in summer 1399. The surviving local Lancastrian accounts show vividly how he deployed the resources and contents of his estates (those of his late father
18 See above, pp. 159—61.
19 Brown, Black Douglases, 49.
20 See above, pp. 129 — 30.
and of his wife) to coordinate the downfall of Richard II.21 Similarly over a century earlier, when Edward I had tried to destabilize the power of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, his agents had to report that his efforts were a failure, for the men of Earl Humphrey had stood solidly with their lord. Earl Humphrey had won them over in part by confirming their charters of liberties: he had recognized that the loyal commitment of his men—even in the wake of royal bluster and bribes—was the return on good lordship.22
Even short of such dangerous confrontations, a powerful aristocratic lord could deploy his pool of supporters to promote his interests in a ruthless fashion. When the Percies and the Cliffords were preparing for their showdown with Henry IV in 1403-4, the constable of Bamburgh reported how their knights had ‘procured to themselves a great multitude of your men and given them livery of the crescents [the Percy livery] and have sworn to keep the castles against you and all others’.23 The Percies were, of course, involved in full-scale rebellion; but even in much more local disputes the ‘support of the lord’s men’ could prove truly menacing. Thomas Herbert must have been relieved when a force of forty-five men and horses rode from Lichfield, Maxtoke, and Atherston to threaten his enemies. By the mid 1440s the situation was even more volatile: the duke of Buckingham summoned various knights, esquires, gentlemen, and others from Kent and Surrey to come to meet him and another group of at least sixty-six persons to ride in support of his cause from Kent to Essex.24
Examples such as these are legion, especially by the time we reach the more abundant documentary sources of the fifteenth century. They are, very properly, cited in discussions of the onset of civil war and the perversion of the normal processes of justice. But they also, from the present perspective, cast light on the sources and assumptions of aristocratic power and on the way that great lords could manipulate the resources of dependent lordship to further their power and ambitions. Nor would the magnates have been in the least embarrassed by proclaiming as much; theirs was a social, even governmental, superiority which was part of the natural order and, within limits, deserved recognition and respect. The point was made most diplomatically by Bishop Russell in his draft sermon in 1483 when he declared that ‘the polityk rule of every region wele ordeigned stondithe in the nobles.’ The duke of Norfolk, in a passage already cited, was a good deal more forthright: ‘We lete yow wete [know] that nexst the kynge our soverayn lord, be his good grace and lycence, we woll have the princypall rewle
21 Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster, I, 136-8; N. Saul, Richard II (New Haven, 1997), 407-8; Davies, Lordship and Society, 85.
22 Cal. Anc. Corr., 101 (wrongly dated); CPR 1292-1301,293.
23 Royal and Historical Lettersduringthe Reign of Henry the Fourth, King of England and of France, and Lord of Ireland, ed., F. C. Hingeston, 2 vols. (London, 1860-1965), I, 206-7.
24 *Staffordshire Record Office, D 641/1/2/15; McFarlane, England in the Fifteenth Century, 234-5.
and governance throwh all this schir.’25 He had doffed his cap to the king’s ultimate authority; but in every other respect what he was claiming was nothing less (to borrow the Scottish phrase) than ‘the leadership of the men of his lands’. It was a claim which most of his fellow magnates would at least have understood.
We opened this brief review of the orbit of aristocratic dependence at the very outer limits of such an orbit—simply those who were, directly or indirectly, within the range of the lord’s power and appeal. The link of this group was at best spasmodic and open-ended; it was not based on written or even real contract, but simply on the magnetic appeal and expectation which a lord exercised on his own country. Dependence in the minor orbit of the lord’s authority was a very different matter. It was often a matter of daily or weekly service, of regular obligations and regular rewards. These were the troupes of servants and menials—valets, pages, grooms, nursemaids, and others—who provided the basic services of the ‘household below stairs’ and attended to the multifarious domestic needs of the household.26 They often numbered somewhere between 80 and 100 per noble household. The vast majority were nameless, living in the household and travelling with it; but the bequests in aristocratic wills show that occasionally, and not unsurprisingly, a bond of affection grew up between them and the lord. Higher up the echelon of service, and sometimes bound by official indentures, came a group of followers who recommended themselves for their professional skills as cooks, masons, clarioners, trumpeters, bargemen, and so forth. It was in this spirit, no doubt, that Master William Holme, king’s physician, was retained for life receiving £10 per annum, robes with fur, and other allowances.27 Such men were not resident at the lord’s household on a regular basis, but within reason were at his beck and call when their services were required; they wore his livery, especially when on his service, and often drew a regular annuity or reward. Alongside them we should place key estate and household officials, some of whom, as we have seen, were more or less full-time professionals, some key local officials, and the lord’s councillors. The livery roll of the earl of Devon for 1384—5 included eighty-two names, ranging from seven knights to three ladies in waiting and six pages. And we need to recall that the earl of Devon was among the poorer earls and his power was largely localized.28
Among those who were in receipt of his livery were fourteen lawyers. It is a group which is represented on the payroll of all major aristocrats.29 Many of the king’s leading judges and serjeants-at-law were paid a retaining fee; so were apprentices at law and attorneys at the central courts; in addition,
25 Quoted in S. B. Chrimes, English Constitutional Ideas in the Fifteenth Century (Cambridge, 1936), 172; Gairdner (ed.), Paston Letters, I, 230.
26 See above, pp. 102-6.
28 Cherry, ‘Courtney earls of Devon’, 71-97.
29 The classic studies of this topic are, especially, J. R. Maddicott, Law and Lordship: Royal Justices as Retainers in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century England (Past and Present Supplement no. 4, 1978) and Ramsay, ‘Retained Legal Counsel’.
many minor administrative and legal officials, including doorkeepers and clerks, were paid regular, if normally modest, fees in the hope, no doubt, that they would expedite the lord’s business. When we learn, to take a single example from many, that in 1384 among the lawyers who were feed (admittedly modestly) by the earl of Stafford were some of the leading legal luminaries of the day—including Sir Robert Belknap, Sir Robert Plessington, Sir David Hanmer, Robert Charleton—as well as a clerk of the bench, we realize how entrenched and extensive was the habit of protecting the aristocracy’s legal flank in advance of litigation.30 It is a practice which attracted—especially in respect of royal judges—a great deal of contemporary criticism and was substantially curtailed—at least as far as judges were concerned—by the end of the fourteenth century. Historians have, understandably, been equally suspicious: retaining royal judges and other feed lawyers seems a particularly reprehensible example of the corruption of the judicial system. It is a topic to which we will return below, pp. 211 and 213 — 15, when we discuss the charge of ‘maintenance’ (the claim that justice was perverted by the abuse of aristocratic influence). But in the present context it is worth making two observations. The first is the self-evident truth that in a world where disputes were generally settled by litigation and where the title to land was regularly under challenge, the need to have ready access to professional advice inevitably entailed the retaining of a corps of legal advisers. Such advice, and the payment which went with it, did not guarantee success; but it was an insurance policy which no lord could afford to overlook. Secondly, most leading judges and lawyers were retained simultaneously by several lords (and doubtless religious corporations). Their loyalties were rarely exclusively committed. That did not necessarily guarantee their neutrality; but it needs to be set alongside the assumption that these men were in the pocket of a particular lord. The case of Sir David Hanmer, chief justice of the King’s Bench in the 1380s, illustrated the point: his portfolio of fees included retainers from John of Gaunt, the earl of Stafford, the Charltons of Powys, and Lestranges of Knockin; he was also a member of the councils of the earls of Arundel and March. Sir David was certainly ecumenical in the way he dispensed his legal expertise and collected his rewards.31
The various groups which we have hitherto classified under the vague formula of the lord’s dependants did indeed form ‘a series of concentric circles’ which ranged from those who were daily and menial employees, through those whose professional services as lawyers, masons, or officers made their assistance desirable, and on to the crowds of supporters from the lord’s ‘country’ who answered his beck and call as the occasion arose. But there was another group of dependants which has a much higher and distinctive profile in the historiography of the
30 *Staffordshire Record Office D. 641/1/2/2.
31 For references to the sources for his fees, see Davies, Owain Glyn Dwr, 357 n.18.
subject. This group is often known as the lord’s affinity. It consisted for the most part of client gentry, men of independent means and standing in their own localities and counties, but bound by ties of dependence to a lord, or to more than one lord.
It is not difficult to understand why the lord’s affinity has been the focus of such close historiographical attention, especially for late medieval England. Substantively, it represents the obvious point of entry into the world of dependent aristocratic bonds, the complex links which connected the various ‘orders’ of gentle society, and thereby into the whole vexed issue conjured by the phrase ‘bastard feudalism’ and with it the social and political dynamics of late medieval society. This is why the issue has occupied centre stage especially since the appearance of K. B. McFarlane’s classic study of 1945, followed by a host of individual and general studies.32 Compiling lists of members of the affinity, and thereafter tracing their careers and the web of their connections, gives a texture to our understanding of the character of political society at county and regional level, which is impossible for earlier periods; the survival from the late thirteenth century of a genre of document which specifies in detailed written form the obligations of lord and the members of the affinity in a precise and unprecedented fashion is clearly hugely significant. The document in question is, of course, the private indenture for life service in peace and war. More than 150 of these indentures survive in England and Ireland for the two centuries 1278—1476 and have been gathered together in an exemplary edition. They are a cardinal source for the study of late medieval lordship.
Paradoxically their very existence may do the historian a measure of disservice. As with any novel genre of document, we may exaggerate their novelty. As Simon Walker shrewdly pointed out,33 ‘an indenture of retinue merely formalized and recorded, for a specific occasion, the unwritten rules by which they (those retained by formal written indenture) always lived.’ Nor need we assume that the formal indenture was by any means unusual in its usage. Apart from the usual problem of rates of survival of such private documents, we need to recall that it may not have been favoured by all aristocratic families or in all areas—though the survival of a considerable number of examples, and early ones, from parts of English Ireland is a timely reminder that this area (so often overlooked by English historians) was within the same social-cultural aristocratic world as England itself and borrowed its habits quickly and readily. Above all, perhaps, we need to recall that the range of aristocratic dependence extended far beyond the small numbers of those for whom formal indentures happen to survive. There were many dependants who were not formally retained but were in receipt of annuities and occasional gifts.
32 K. B. McFarlane, ‘Bastard Feudalism’, BIHR, 20 (1945), 161—80. Among a plethora of other studies two general overviews may be cited: Bean, From Lord to Patron, and M. Hicks, Bastard Feudalism (London, 1995). An exceptional book about an exceptional affinity is Walker, Lancastrian Affimty.
33 Walker, Lancastrian Affinity, 9.
To take a late example, it has been pointed out that only 31 out of 141 known annuitants of the duke of Buckingham (d. 1460) had their tenure of service regulated by indenture of retinue.34
In spite of these caveats and others which may be added to them, the indentures of retinue do provide a valuable list of what were increasingly considered, on legal advice, as the basic terms and conditions of service between lord and dependant. Especially was this so by the second half of the fourteenth century as such indentures became increasingly, though by no means totally, uniform and were no doubt copied into seigniorial formularies. They were bilateral contracts for life service in peace and in war as opposed to short-term contracts for a specified period or to raise troops for a specific expedition; they laid down the obligations of the retainer, in peace and war: they specified the rewards due to the retainer, typically an annuity or rent in land, and the rights of lodging and food he and some of his followers could claim when he attended the lord’s household (bouche de court); they often entered into detail on how the losses (for instance, of horses) or gains (for example, ransoms) of the retainers were to be compensated or shared. They were formally validated contracts and as such enforceable at law. Beneath these broad terms there were, of course, variations in the conditions: on issues such as the obligations of the retainer, which might include attendance in parliament, tournaments, or crusades, and in rates of reward. The latter—as with so much else in gentle society—became increasingly tied to rank: often £20 or 20 marks (£13 6s. 8d.) for a knight and £10 for a squire, with a proviso that the higher rate might be paid if the status of the retainer changed.
Beneath the neat formulae of the indentures, there was—one suspects—rather more negotiation than meets the documentary eye. We catch a fascinating glimpse, for example, of a would-be retainer petitioning for a contract; but having to be told that the lord had a waiting list of such requests and that there was in effect a freeze on such grants for two years.35 Retainers might also lay down limitations on their terms of service: in 1317 (no. 15)36 John Darcy, in concluding an agreement with Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke (d. 1324), reserved the right to serve with whichever lord he wished at tournaments, and added that if the earl wished for his service on such an occasion he was obliged to offer Darcy as much as he could gain from any other lord. Likewise Sir John Russel on entering into an indenture with the earl of Warwick in 1383 (no. 71) limited his obligation to serve the earl in war to those occasions on which the earl himself served in person. Clearly there was hard bargaining at work. So much so that occasionally a lord was prompted to fire a shot across the bows
34 Rawcliffe, The Staffords, 232—40.
35 Legge (ed.), Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions, no. 186.
36 References in brackets in the text—e.g. (no. 12)—refer to the edition of the indentures by Michael Jones and Simon Walker, ‘Private Indentures’.
of a petulant petitioner. In a famous letter of 1478 Lord Strange spelt out the position unambiguously to Sir William Stonor: ‘I woll not be ovirmastred with none of my feedmen ... yf ye dele as ye owght I vrolbe your goode lorde, and eke I dare better displese yow than ye me.’37 Occasionally, indentures of service were part of a broader set of agreements: so it was that when Hugh Despenser retained Sir Peter Ovedale, the deal also involved the marriage of Sir Peter to Hugh’s sister (no. 22).
The opportunities and benefits of indentures served the interest of both parties. The lord secured a definitive statement of the retainer’s obligations. His ability to attract men of good local standing displayed his pulling power in the local community; they were his eyes, ears, and supporters within it. The retainers could be expected, even required, to attend the lord on great public occasions—parliament or a tournament or ‘other assemblies’, again in a visual reminder of the lord’s appeal. When he assembled an expeditionary force, at the core would be retainers permanently bound to him to serve; they in turn could, and did, serve as his recruiting officers, so as Bean has emphasized, ‘a great household was composed, in part, of some smaller households absorbed within the greater one where their lords attended their lords.’38 It is at the domestic level that the role of such retainers is arguably most elusive. We must not assume that their rights to board and lodging at the lord’s household were mere formalities. They no doubt turned up there on the high feasts of the lord’s social calendar and whenever they were summoned. They acted, alongside others, as his ‘natural councillors’. It is striking, for example, how often some of the retainers of the house of Mortimer witness the key transactions of the family—endowing a monastery or arranging a marriage deal. None of these obligations was peculiar to indentured retainers but they formed an obvious group on whose services he could contractually rely.
For the retainer the advantages were even more self-evident. He was no longer a ‘floater’, needing to make an introduction and a request to a lord on each occasion. He could expect to have rights of access, directly or indirectly, to his lord’s patronage and support, and not only for himself but in turn also for his own dependants and even their dependants.39 He was in receipt of the lord’s livery or badge—a visual expression of his attachment and a reminder to all of the patronage he enjoyed. He would normally be in receipt of an annuity, which could often be a substantial addition to his income. He could offer his military support in return for the prospect that his lord would open the sluice gate of
37 The Stonor Letters and Papers, 1290—1483, ed. C. L. Kingsford, 2 vols. (London, 1919), II, no. 230; Kingsford’s Stonor Letters and Papers 1290—1483, ed. C. Carpenter (Cambridge, 1996), no. 230.
38 Bean, From Lord to Patron, 40.
39 The whole web of patronage in this respect—including cajolery, threat, wheedling, bargains, etc.—is vividly illustrated at an early date in The Letters of Edward Prince of Wales, 1304—5, ed. H. Johnstone (Roxburghe Club, London, 1931).
royal patronage in his favour.40 In addition the dependant could tap into the fund of favours that a great lord—or his friends—had at their disposal—offices, ecclesiastical livings, pensions, pardons, legal protection, wardships, marriages, gifts of timber and venison, leases of estates. Above such individual awards, and ultimately more central, was simply basking in the favour of a powerful patron.
Men who were important enough to be the subject of a life contract were already people of standing in their own local societies or in their own careers or professions. Detailed studies of some of the best-documented noble affinities of the period—among them those of Thomas of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, the earl of Devon, Elizabeth de Burgh, and the Beauchamps—have established the broad character and recruitment base of such affinities. It is not in the least surprising that many of them were bound together by family ties and had served the lord and his descendants over two or three generations. At least seventeen of the identifiable annuitants of Duke Henry of Grosmont (d. 1361) passed into the service of John of Gaunt, and John of Gaunt in turn built upon affinity for his son, Henry Bolingbroke, in part from the ranks of his own knights and esquires. A good number of others were drawn from the lord’s estates and even from the broader ‘country’ which was his sphere of influence. This was a natural catchment area and helped to shape the geographical character of the affinity: the Courtenays, for example, concentrated their recruitment in Devon and the Percies in Northumberland; but a really great lord such as Gaunt spread his recruiting net much further, concentrating, it is true, initially in Lancashire and Yorkshire, but expanding over the decades into the midlands, East Anglia, and beyond. Between 1370 and 1378—when the evidence is particularly rich—his retainers were drawn from twenty-two different counties.41
Recruitment was not confined by history or geography. Ambitious young men were in search of good lords and vice versa. A letter of recommendation from an existing member of the affinity might do the trick; so would talks of military prowess or the recommendation of a powerful patron. Both parties had to work at the relationship—to establish it and to keep it in good heart. Lords had to prove their worship as much as retainers their service. If a retainer wished to offer his services to another, additional lord, there was an etiquette to be observed. ‘Please do not be displeased,’ said one lord writing in a revealing letter to another, ‘that we have retained E. de C. with us, before he came along to you to get your permission.. . . Rather grant him your good lordship (bone seigneurie) as he very much wishes to have it.’42 This was the world of the formation of the aristocratic affinity.
40 See, for example, the interesting letter published in Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster, 355.
41 Walker, Lancastrian Affinity, 26—36.
42 Legge (ed.), Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions, no. 230.
The aristocratic affinity and the indenture of life service have been at the centre of much of the historical discussion of late medieval lordship and in particular of what has been characterized, generally pejoratively, as ‘bastard feudalism’. They have been seen as part of the cancer in the body politic, as a manifestation of the disruptive influence of so-called over-mighty magnates in the local, regional, and national life of late medieval society, especially in England. We are not called upon here to enter into these debates, but in the light of our broad-brush discussion of the nature and dynamics of aristocratic dependence, some of the issues deserve an airing from such a perspective, rather than from that of the historical pathology of late medieval English political society.
Perhaps the oldest charge against the aristocratic affinity is that it represented the distortion, the bastardization, of the healthy relationship between lord and man which had been at the heart of the original, pristine, ‘feudal’ bond. The reward of land was replaced by that of money; exclusive loyalty to one lord by cynically multiple commitments to several. These charges—both of which have substance in terms of money-rewards and multiple service—have long been shown to be based on a false and idealized contrast between ‘feudal’ and ‘bastard feudal’ relationships. Men of the status of indentured retainers were not Pavlovian dogs, responding unilaterally and exclusively to the command of a lord. A valued retainer would not find it difficult to secure contracts of service, annuities, and rewards from more than one lord; likewise an ambitious lord would not be inhibited from seeking the service of a valued prospective retainer even though he had an existing link with another lord. Nor—contrary to common opinion—would such multiple loyalties have put a strain on the retainer’s choice of loyalties, at least in normal circumstances. In relatively stable political societies—such as late medieval England was for the most part—and in a world where the nodal points of a lord’s power were geographically dispersed, multiple loyalties reinforced the complexity of ties of loyalty and service. England, in particular, was not a collection of zones of exclusive aristocratic power where a single lord enjoyed a monopoly of control; multiple service was a reflection of the kaleidoscopic and fragmented character of aristocratic lordship.
There is one other point which should be made on this issue.43 It is tempting to interpret the careers and behaviour of indentured retainers mainly or even exclusively in terms of their vertical relationships with their lord, as members of an affinity. This, after all, is how we come across them in the documents. Yet this is, of course, a simplification, even a distortion. The retainers were men of standing and power in their own communities and often on a wider stage. Normally they would spend only a small proportion of their time in the service of their lord. Much of their time would be devoted to their own estates and affairs, dealing with neighbours and tenants, pursuing their family ambitions and strategies, discharging their duties in the governance of the localities, serving on
43 Prof. Davies’s text at this point reads ‘even if we return to it more fully in a later chapter’.
campaigns, and answering the commands of the king. It was within this broad context that their lives were conducted and their decisions made, not in a oneeyed, automatic, knee-jerk obedience to their obligations, however important, to their lord. Men such as Sir Peter de la Mare, steward and retainer of the earl of March, or Sir Andrew Sackville, likewise household steward of an earlier earl of March, or Sir George Felbrigg who is to be found, sometimes simultaneously, in the service of the duke of Gloucester, the duke of Norfolk, and the earl of March, had busy, varied careers militarily and governmentally.44 Their obligations to their indentured lords were only one of the many strands which went into the making of their careers and decisions. For the most part—and except possibly at times of high political drama—neither they nor their lords found it difficult to balance these various claims to their satisfaction.
In the lexicon of the late medieval period, again especially in England, two other terms have come to be part of the shorthand for the malaise of aristocratic lordship—livery and maintenance. Both are topics which need not command our attention in detail, since they have been the subject of excellent historical discussions.45 Attention will be confined to what these two contemporary explosive issues reveal about perceptions of aristocratic lordship and changing views of its code of conduct in late medieval society.
Livery, the granting out of cloth by a lord in his distinctive colours and at his expense to his dependants, was an unexceptional and long-standing feature of what may be called displayed dependence. As such it was no different from other gifts and rewards that any lord expected to give and a retainer to receive. Bishop Robert Grosseteste (d. 1253) of Lincoln was no worshipper at the altar of secular worldly conventions but he had no doubt of the importance of livery. ‘Order your knights and your gentlemen who wear your livery (vos robes) that they ought to wear that same livery every day, and especially at your table and in your presence to uphold your honour.’46 The distribution of livery, once or twice a year normally, was one of the key visual rituals of lordship. The quality of the cloth and its length were strictly regulated by status and reinforced the hierarchical distinctions between the lord’s dependants. The lord’s top officials—including his legal advisers and members of his council—were dressed in his livery; but so also, for example, were his craftsmen, oarsmen, and musicians.47 For the lord, the distribution of livery—increasingly to be supplemented and replaced by
44 For de la Mare, see above pp. 41, 45, 46, 130, 185; for Sackville, Saul, Scenes from Provincial Life, 49—81; for Felbrigg, Roskell et al. (eds.), House of Commons.
45 Bean, From Lord to Patron, 17—22 provides a good starting point on livery; so does the introduction by G. L. Harriss to McFarlane, England in the Fifteenth century. I have also benefited from reading McFarlane’s unpublished lectures—his last set of lectures in Trinity term 1966, in Magdalen College Oxford archives—on lords and retainers.
46 Walter of Henley’s Husbandry: Together with an Anonymous Husbandry, Seneschaucie, and Robert Grosseteste's Rules, ed. E. Lamond with an introduction by W. Cunningham (London, 1890), 85.
47 See, for example, Household Accounts, II, 658 (duke of Clarence); Reg. BP, I, 12.
collars, badges, caps, and hoods in the later fourteenth century—represented a considerable investment in the politics of display. The two surviving livery rolls for our period are for a lord and lady who were not key figures in the power politics of their day; even so the list of those in receipt of Elizabeth de Burgh’s livery in 1340 extended to 272 persons, that of Edward Courtenay, earl of Devon, to 135 persons. These were paltry numbers as compared to extravagant numbers of livery distributed by Earl Thomas of Lancaster: he spent £1,080 under this heading in 1313—14 and £687 in 1318—19. His officers purchased the cloth from London merchants and had it transported to Pontefract to be tailored into liveries. Earl Thomas was spending inordinately in unusual circumstances; so was Bolingbroke’s receiver-general in the summer of 1399 when he distributed 192 gilt collars.48
It is not difficult to envisage how a group of liveried followers posed an intimidating threat. Gangs of such followers hid behind the skirts of their lord’s protection and readily abused their status. It is no wonder that Gaunt’s followers thought that their badges would give them the earth and the sky—however much Gaunt himself may have sought to curb their boasts and activities. Gaunt at least was the premier lord in the land; but others of lesser status followed suit. Part of the resentment that built up against Sir Simon Burley, one of Richard Il’s leading chamber knights, in the 1380s was centred on the claim that he issued 220 robes every Christmas—when he was not a great lord with a great income. Likewise in parliament in January 1404 the earl of Northumberland admitted to ‘the gederying of power, and yevyng of liverees’ in his recent conflict with the king.49
By the mid—late fourteenth century the indiscriminate distribution of livery had come to be seen, among the new aristocratic gentle classes, as the unacceptable and oppressive face of irresponsible lordship and as a root cause of disorder. A vigorous campaign was mounted in the Commons to limit the practice severely, leading to the ordinance of 1390 and statutes of 1399—1401. It was not so much an attempt to prohibit the distribution of livery as to define who was able to grant it (magnates) and who to receive and wear it (knights and esquires retained by life indenture and resident household servants).50 What is of interest to us in the present context is what these debates and arguments reveal about the fracturing of views about the nature and exercise of aristocratic lordship. The attitude of the great magnates was brusquely summed up in 1384 in John of Gaunt’s dismissive comment that he was well able to control and discipline his own men; it was echoed again in 1388 when the lords resisted a campaign for the abolition of all
48 Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster, 26—7; TNA DL 28/1/13 m.4; TNA DL 28/4/1 f.18v.
49 Thomas Walsingham, Chronicon Angliae, 1322—1388, ed. E. M. Thompson (R.S., 1874), 125; Knighton, Chron., 500. [PROMT, VIII, 231, item 11.]
50 R. L. Storey, ‘Liveries and Commissions of the Peace, 1388—90’, in The Reign of Richard II, ed. F. R. H. du Boulay and C. M. Barron (London, 1971), 131 — 52; N. Saul, ‘The Commons and the Abolition ofBadges’, Parliamentary History, 9 (1990), 302—15.
liveries given by badges and hoods. But the Commons and their allies were not to be browbeaten so easily. They persisted in their campaign and it bore a measure of legislative fruit. What we catch here is a glimpse of the cross-currents which inevitably flowed in a complex body politic. Both parties respected, and did not challenge, the power of the vertical claims of aristocratic lordship, properly exercised, especially on those who were in a menial, contractual, and/or long-term dependence on a lord. That after all was, as it had been for centuries, part of the cement of a hierarchical society. But such dependence had to operate both within a framework of (changing) conventions of behaviour and in a society which was, at the level of gentry/lairds and above, sophisticated and multi-textured and far more complex than merely one of aristocratic power and dependence. This was ever more so with the passage of time, in the wake of far-reaching social, economic, and political changes. Lordship did not stand still, nor did those who played the games of power on its stage.51
The other word which regularly featured in any analysis of the malaise of late medieval lordship was ‘maintenance’. It referred to the improper and excessive support which a lord could give to a client or dependant in the pursuit of his case, legal or otherwise. Here again our interest is centred on what the issue can reveal about perceptions of late-medieval aristocratic lordship and the framework of conventions within which it had to operate. Historians have done a great deal to show that some of the crude claims about the nature and vicissitudes of ‘maintenance’ have been taken too much at their face value rather than being seen as part of contemporary polemic and explored within the context of other contemporary practices. After all, at one level ‘maintenance’ was the residuary legatee of an age-old expectation that the lord would, indeed should, further his client’s quarrel—through distraint, force, pillage, even feud if necessary—and should do so as an obligation of honour, especially in a society very considerably grounded on self-help and help by lord, family, and ‘friends’. Then again it is recognized that the mechanisms of ‘maintenance’ worked alongside the normal processes of litigation and court procedure, seeking no doubt to accelerate and influence them, but not working directly against them or challenging their authority.
In spite of the assumptions of the modern outlook, ‘maintenance’ was not necessarily regarded as a covert, reprehensible activity. Conducted within the rules, it was an obligation of good lordship and good clientship. So it was, for example, that the earl of Ormond in 1356 pledged to ‘help favour, aid and maintain (juvare, fovere et mauntenere) Sir Richard de Burgh in all his just quarrels, as a lord ought to help, aid and maintain his knight or his vassal’.52 So likewise in Scotland what men wanted was ‘supple help mantenans and defence’
51 Prof. Davies’s text at this point reads ‘It is a topic to which we will need to return in order to try to get aristocratic lordship in perspective.’
52 ‘Private Indentures’, no. 44.
and in return to take the lord’s part in all his actions. So it was that ‘good lordship’ could be translated simply as ‘maintenance’.53
The evidence of how such ‘maintenance’ was deployed to support a client is amply documented both from private correspondence (especially in the fifteenth century) and from seigniorial account rolls. No attempt is made to conceal it. Bribes, threats, and cajolery were regular parts of the armoury; so was an occasional display of physical force as a lord or his officers or even his council led a troop of his tenants to ‘attend’ a local court. More common were rather less intimidating ploys: ‘labouring’ juries, and officials such as sheriff, distributing gifts including robes, wine, and food, identifying would-be supporters and possible opponents. These games were played by all and sundry: cities, such as Norwich and King’s Lynn, were as willing to pay handsomely in gifts and entertainment to win the ‘friendship’ of a great lord as he was anxious to have their support. Such practices were endemic in a society which lacked a substantial professional bureaucracy, local and central, and where seeking ‘preference’ was an acknowledged way of speeding up procedures and oiling the wheels of a sclerotic machine—be it in the payment of exchequer debts or in moving along a becalmed judicial process. So long as all parties ‘played the system’—though, of course, the dice were as always loaded in favour of the more powerful—then it might even be said to be, at least in theory, self-cancelling with one litigant’s ‘bribe’ being trumped by that of his opponent. Contemporaries were certainly fully apprised of how the system was ‘played’: Denholm-Young many years ago published a fascinating list of the kind of objections which could be used to challenge jurors—such as affinity, taking robes, godparenthood, ‘being of the counsel’ of one of the parties, among others.54 Modern sensibilities may be offended at the practices employed, sometimes from outrage at what is seen as blatant ‘old corruption’; but such charges often isolate ‘maintenance’ from the legal and social context in which it operated, including a context in which arbitration (especially by great aristocrats) was often a better guarantee of the restoration of social peace and a modicum of good order than the interminable tergiversations and contrived delays of strict judicial process.
Furthermore, as with livery, so with ‘maintenance’ there was a recognition that the system could be abused. ‘Misrule’ was dangerous to ‘good lordship’; it undermined its reputation. When the lord promised to ‘maintain’ his client he always did so scrupulously in his just causes. Thus when the fourth earl of Douglas gave an annuity in 1407 to Herbert Maxwell he promised ‘to supowelle and defende [him] in all his ryghtwys cause, als we awe to our man and our kosyn’.55 Great lords were jealous of their reputations and could be fastidious about the observance of due procedure and neutrality. The Black Prince’s officers
53 Wormald, Bonds ofManrent, 23, 66 — 9, 73, 102.
54 Denholm-Young, Seigniorial Administration, 117—18.
55 Grant,‘Acts of Lordship’, no. 12.
noted how a justice excused himself from a case because one of the parties was staying with him, that juries should be empanelled from men who were not allied to either party, and that since the plaintiff’s father was the sheriff, other officers ought to be appointed for the occasion.56 Indeed, if a client abused the lord’s maintenance the consequences could be dire: when John of Gaunt found that his feodary for Lancashire was guilty of maintenance, he fined him £200 and banned him from Gaunt’s court and presence for life.57
Much late medieval English historical scholarship on the aristocracy has concentrated on the affinity; on its composition, size, role in local and national affairs, and its responsiveness to the lord’s policies and demands. Arguably, it has received too much attention. Most aristocratic affinities—in the sense of men under indentured contract for life—were not large. That of John of Gaunt, about which we are exceptionally well informed, was totally unusual in standing in 1387 at 173, of whom 7 were bannerets, 70 knights, and 96 esquires. This was the affinity of a prince and titular king. Even Thomas of Lancaster—extravagant in so many respects in his retaining—was not in the same league. Earl Thomas of Warwick (d. 1401) paid fees only to six knights and thirty-three others. Nor should we be misled by figures, since the standing of the retained was as important a measure as were numbers. Equally indicative is the fact that in general—Gaunt again being the outstanding exception in spending £4,000 by the 1390s on the cost of his retinue—most magnates spent 10 per cent or less of their income on the grant of annuities and associated costs to their affinity. That suggests that we should keep a sense of proportion in our discussions of the affinity as a feature of aristocratic lordship.58
Nor would we expect the affinity to have, or demonstrate, a clear corporate identity. It consisted of a group of individuals recruited into the lord’s service at different points in time. Beyond this commitment to him, their lives and careers had their own trajectories and priorities. But they were drawn from the same social and geographical orbits, often cooperated as neighbours, kinsmen, and in local magistracy, and no doubt shared a pride in serving the same lord. The claims that the affinity made on a dependant’s time and service would be determined by individual circumstances—his personal standing, his personal and military ambitions, the openings afforded to him. Our tendency, perhaps, is to underrate these claims and the element of real personal affection and devotion which could underpin them. When Sir Richard Barley, the marshal of John of Gaunt’s army in Castile, asked to be buried in a tomb opposite that of his lord in (Old) St Paul’s church, or when Robert Swillington left Gaunt his best harness of gold and silver and his best horse, or when the widow of Sir Edward St John
56 Reg. BP, II, 93—4.
57 Gaunt’s letter dates from 1380. Reg. J.G. II, no. 302.
58 The evidence is admirably summarized, as with so many other topics discussed here, in Harriss, Shaping the Nation, 189 — 93.
bequeathed a great gilt-covered cup embellished with her father’s arms to the earl of Arundel and a matins book to his eldest son, we catch a glimpse of the world which lies beyond the aridities of the formal indentures of retinue.59
Furthermore, though the affinity was for much of the time a loose body of followers, it did enjoy moments when it operated corporately. It would do so, no doubt, on grand social occasions of the Christian calendar when the lord would summon his dependants to dine and lodge with him, or when he set out for a tournament, parliament, a wedding or a funeral. More menacingly, the onset of political trouble or a military expedition might prompt the retinue to be summoned to display the lord’s standing. In 1378 Earl Edmund of March gave fourteen days’ notice to his retinue (pro retinencia suo munienda) before he set out for Scotland; in the stressful circumstances of the early years of Henry IV’s reign, the earl of Stafford summoned his retinue to come to help him to suppress Thomas Holland’s revolt and then to contribute to campaigns in Scotland and Wales; or, to cite a final example, in 1436 the earl of Warwick travelled from Abergavenny ‘to have discussions for twelve days with his retinue (cum retinencia sua) prior to his journey to Flanders’.60 Failure to respond to such summonses could lead to the cancellation of the contract and the annuity: some of the Black Prince’s dependants found that to their cost and so did those who failed to turn up to support the king at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.61
All in all, we should perhaps not underestimate the significance of the affinity as a window into the world of aristocratic dependence. It does at least provide a fairly secure documentary foothold in a world of suggestive guesses. But one needs to recognize that what the affinity represents is the tip of an iceberg of extensive formal and informal circles of dependence, reward, and service which were a central feature of late medieval lordship, both aristocratic and royal. If those circles were effectively and sensitively managed by the lord and his menage, and if tensions between individuals and groups within and across the lord’s affinity (broadly described) were addressed, then both the interest of the lord and general social and political harmony would be promoted. That was indeed a very tall order. Lordship, good lordship, was, like kingship, a hugely demanding ideal.62
For the Black Prince and his clients, D. Green, ‘Political Service with Edward the Black Prince’, in The Age of Edward III, ed. J. S. Bothwell (Woodbridge, 2001) and
59 Walker, Lancastrian Affinity, 102; Goodman, Loyal Conspiracy, 115.
60 Household Accounts I, 246; *Staffordshire Record Office D 641/12/36; BL Egerton Roll 8775.
61 Reg BP, II, 9—10; TNA DL 42/15 — 16passim.
62 Prof. Davies’s text concludes with the words ‘It is to a cursory examination of some of those demands that we now finally turn.’
D. Green, ‘Edward the Black Prince and East Anglia: An Unlikely Association’, in Fourteenth Century England III, ed. W. M. Ormrod (Woodbridge, 2004). For an earlier comparison, A. Marshall, ‘An Early Fourteenth Century Affinity: The Earl of Norfolk and his Followers’, in Fourteenth Century England V, ed. N. Saul (Woodbridge, 2008). For the crown as retaining lord, H. Castor, The King, the Crown, and the Duchy of Lancaster: Public Authority and Private Power, 1399—1461 (Oxford, 2000); A. Dunn, The Politics of Magnate Power in England and Wales 1389—1413 (Oxford, 2003); A. Grundy, ‘The Earl of Warwick and the Royal Affinity in the Politics of the West Midlands, 1389—1399’, in The Fifteenth Century II: Revolution and Consumption in Late Medieval England, ed. M. Hicks (Woodbridge, 2001). For gentry attitudes, P. Coss, The Origins of the English Gentry (Cambridge, 2003) and Gentry Culture in Late Medieval England, ed. R. Radulescu and A. Truelove (Manchester, 2005). For the participation of towns in the system of maintenance, C. Liddy, War, Politics and Finance in Late Medieval English Towns: Bristol, York and the Crown, 1350—1400 (Woodbridge, 2005). For ‘corruption’ as part of the legal system, S. Walker, ‘Order and Law’, in A Social History of England, 1200—1500, ed. R. Horrox and W. M. Ormrod (Cambridge, 2006); D. Biggs, ‘Henry IV and his JP’s [sic]: The Lancastrianisation of Justice, 1399—1413’, in Traditions and Transformations in Late Medieval England, ed. D. Biggs, S. D. Michelove and A. Compton Reeves (Leiden, 2002).
For lord-man relations in Scotland, A. Grant, ‘Service and Tenure in Late Medieval Scotland, 1314-1475’, in The Fifteenth Century I: Concepts and Patterns of Service in the Later Middle Ages, ed. A. Curry and E. Matthew (Woodbridge, 2000). For dependence in Gaelic society, S. Kingston, Ulster and the Isles in the Fifteenth Century: The Lordship of the Clann Domhnaill of Antrim (Dublin, 2004); H. L. MacQueen, ‘Survival and Success: The Kennedys of Dunure’, in The Exercise of Power in Medieval Scotland, c.1200—1500, ed. S. Boardman and A. Ross (Dublin, 2003). For Ireland, P. Crooks, ‘Factions, Feuds and Noble Power in the Lordship of Ireland c.1356-1494’, IHS, 35 (2006-7); K. Waters, ‘The Earls of Desmond and the Irish of South-Western Munster’, Journal of Medieval History, 32 (2006); B. Hartland, ‘English Lords in Late Thirteenth- and Early Fourteenth-Century Ireland: Roger Bigod and the de Clare Lords of Thomond’, EHR, 122 (2007), 318-48. For ‘captain of his nation’, C. Maginn, ‘English Marcher Lordships in South Dublin in the Late Middle Ages’, IHS, 34 (2004-5).