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The Higher Aristocracy: Identity and Memory

The higher aristocracy is not an easily defined group. Peerage lawyers and genealogists have expended a great deal of effort and ingenuity in attempting to formulate, and then to apply, such definitions; but the untidiness and fluidity of human categorizations and the shifting character of status vocabulary more often than not undermine the tidiness of such definitions. Nor, frankly, is this a matter of undue concern for the argument of this book, since its theme is to investigate the character of lordship rather than to try to define the membership of the club of higher aristocrats in a schematic and formulaic manner. Nevertheless it is as well at the outset to have some broad notion of the dimensions of the group.

So let us start with some bald figures, none of which is to be regarded as more than indicative. It is simplest to start with England. There had always been in effect, if not institutionally, an elite group within the medieval nobility in England. They might be defined—for those anxious to have definitions—as corresponding to the 180 or so tenants-in-chief or, more plausibly, to those greater magnates who, according to the terms of Magna Carta in 1215, were to receive an individual summons from the king when he wished to discuss raising an aid as a tax. Their eminence would have been readily recognized by contemporaries in terms of titles, wealth, status, political standing, size of following, and increasingly in the acceptance of the notion of ‘peers’. But the membership of this group was neither fixed nor static; it fluctuated, partly in response to the fortunes and misfortunes of families and partly according to whom the king decided to summon to his councils and parliaments. It was during the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries that the membership of the group came finally to be formally defined and its membership converted into a hereditary, parliamentary peerage. This was a process which K. B. McFarlane famously characterized as one of ‘exclusion, definition and stratification’.1 The chronology of this process has now been amply outlined in various historical studies; it need not be repeated here. It was part of a wider process of tightening and refining the vocabulary and terminology of the status distinction of ‘gentle’ society which is a feature of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. So it was that a clear and differentiated tariff of wages was established for military service to the king, or that sumptuary legislation laid down the clothes appropriate to

1 McFarlane, Nobility, 269.

each legally defined social group, or that the legislation regulating the giving of liveries (from Richard II’s reign onwards) specifically exempted ‘dukes, earls, barons and bannerets’. These and similar developments indicated that a defined and quasi-hereditary elite had now ensconced itself legally and institutionally at the apex of English society. This may serve as our working definition of the higher aristocracy.

How large a group was it? We would not be far wrong were we to indicate that by the early fifteenth century it included at most sixty families. These families—or the senior representative of them—claimed a rank and privileges which set them apart from the rest of gentle society, notably the virtually hereditary right to receive individual summonses to parliament. There was, of course, much that was contingent and accidental in the composition of the group at any given point in time —as families failed (naturally or artificially) and as new members were promoted by royal favour. But the size of the group remained broadly unchanging. Furthermore the income tax returns for 1436 indicate that though this elite was not formally defined in terms of its income, it did nevertheless stand out from the rest of landed society in terms of its wealth.2

Within this higher aristocracy—generally termed ‘barons’—there was a further refinement. The creme de la creme of the group flaunted titles—normally earl, but later also duke (from 1337) and marquis (from 1385, but rare)—which further differentiated them and, in a society increasingly obsessed with the etiquette of precedence and ceremony, set them further apart. Their numbers varied: they stood at ten in 1280, at seventeen in 1400.3 So did their wealth vary widely, but it had come to be accepted that a landed income of one thousand marks (£666 13s. 4d.) per annum was a minimum territorial qualification for an earl. This comital—ducal group—the premier league of the higher aristocracy, as it were—is of particular interest to us since it is its documentary evidence (or such of it as survives) which underpins the analysis of lords and lordship in this book.

When we turn to Scotland and English Ireland in search ofa higher aristocracy, we find ourselves in even more difficulties, not least because of the inadequacies of the surviving evidence. It is not surprising that in certain directions the evolution of the Scottish higher aristocracy seemed to echo developments in England. After all, the links between the English and Scottish royal courts in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were often close; and many of the premier Scottish comital families were of Anglo-Norman stock (Bruce, Stewart, and Comyn among them) and often continued to retain territorial and other interests in England. Even as late as 1398 the Scots could borrow a leaf from recent English practice by adopting the title of ‘duke’ for their greatest noblemen. But

2 H. L. Gray, ‘Incomes from Land in England in 1436’, EHR, 49 (1934), 607—39; T. B. Pugh and C. D. Ross, ‘The English Baronage and the Income Tax of 1436’, BIHR, 26 (1953), 1—28.

3 See the basic list in the Appendix to this chapter.

these similarities and imitations should not mislead us. There were substantial and substantive differences between late medieval England and Scotland both in the chronology and in the terminology of their higher aristocracies. Thus the terms ‘barons’ and ‘free barony’ had very different connotations in Scotland from those of English usage, and no Scottish peerage can be said to have appeared until the fifteenth century. Likewise in terms of wealth and the nature of their lordship, the differences between the higher Scottish aristocracy and their English counterparts were often more striking than the similarities. These differences are more than surface variations; they reflect profound differences in the character and distribution of aristocratic (as indeed of royal) power as between Scotland and England.4

None of this can be gainsaid; yet a higher aristocracy is clearly identifiable in Scotland. It numbered about fifty; in other words it was considerably larger in relation to the overall size of the population than was the English parliamentary peerage. These were the men who really counted, the heavyweights, in Scottish political society. Forty-eight of them were named in the declaration of Arbroath in 1320; fifty-six did personal homage to King Robert II at his coronation in 1371. As in England, a group of earldoms stood at the head of this elite community. In the 1280s (as in 1329 at the end of Robert I’s reign) they numbered thirteen—five (Angus, Buchan, Carrick, Menteith, Sutherland) in the hands of families of continental origins but now fully Scotticized (Umfraville, Comyn, Bruce, Stewart, and the descendants of Freskin the Fleming); the remaining eight (Atholl, Dunbar, Caithness, Fife, Lennox, Mar, Ross, and Strathearn) held by native families often, as at Strathearn, with all the powers and traditions of Celtic mormaorship.5 In addition to earldoms, Scotland had a category of aristocratic power-bases unknown to English terminology or historiography, the ‘provincial lordships’. There were around twenty of them at the beginning of our period.6 They were often as extensive territorially and jurisdictionally as some of the earldoms but lacked the title; they were broadly coextensive with the historic provinces or regions of the kingdom. Between them the earldoms and the ‘provincial lordships’ covered close on two-thirds of the surface area of modern Scotland. This suggests that the configuration of power, specifically of aristocratic lordship, was, or could be, very different from that familiar from much of the English evidence. It is a point to which we will need to return.

What of English Ireland? Viewed from one angle—that of the English government in Westminster and Dublin—English Ireland mimicked the institutions, practices, and laws of England to a remarkable degree. Aristocratic lordship in Ireland therefore had to a considerable extent to operate within this framework.

4 See in general Duncan, Scotland; A. Grant, Independence and Nationhood: Scotland 1306—1469 (Edinburgh, 1984).

5 Grant, Independence and Nationhood, 122; G. W. S. Barrow, The Anglo-Norman Era in Scottish History (Oxford, 1980), 157—8.

6 McNeill and MacQueen (eds.), Atlas of Scottish History, 184—6,206.

But such a statement is at best a half-truth. Aristocratic lordship in English Ireland was bound to be different from that experienced in contemporary England for at least three reasons. First, English Ireland was a land of extensive aristocratic liberties where lordship could operate in all its amplitude. As Robin Frame has pointed out, ‘something over half the territorial extent of English Ireland was. . . outside the area of shire ground.’ Secondly, much of Ireland was, in the contemporary phrase, ‘a land of war’, not necessarily recurrently but sufficiently menacingly to give a distinctly military flavour to any lordship which intended to operate at all effectively there. Thirdly, and related to this, English-controlled Ireland—itself a shifting and unstable category—was a collection of localized and hybrid societies where the only effective lordship was one which worked with the grain of local situations and practices. The world of the resident lords of most of English Ireland was a very far cry indeed from that of the great magnates of midland and southern England.7

Can we hazard a guess as to the number of these English lords in Ireland whom we might venture to designate as ‘higher aristocrats’? A figure of twenty/thirty would probably err on the high side. A series of important royal commands to the most important Anglo-Irish lords issued 1322-37 ranged in number from thirteen in 1331 to twenty-eight in 1335; these seem to identify those who might be regarded as the leaders of the English community in Ireland.8 These figures are paralleled by those for men known to have been summoned to the Irish parliament: twenty-seven in 1333, twenty-eight in 1378, but falling steadily to no more than twelve at the end of the Middle Ages.9 The numbers, in other words, were modest as compared with those for England and Scotland; and no defined conception of peerage had yet been established. The numbers of Anglo-Irish earldoms (as opposed to English earldoms such as Gloucester, Norfolk, or later March which held large estates in Ireland) was also very modest: only one (the de Burgh earldom of Ulster) in 1280 rising to four in 1380 (the Geraldine earldoms of Desmond and Kildare, the Butler earldom of Ormond, and the earldom of Ulster now in the hands of the Mortimer earls of March).

We can conclude from this sketchy and tentative review that there was in England, Scotland, and English Ireland a group of greater magnates whom we—and indeed contemporaries—would have recognized as a higher aristocracy. Its membership was by no means unambiguously defined; it was in England with its concept of a quasi-hereditary parliamentary peerage, meeting apart from the commons, that this process had gone farthest. Within this higher aristocracy, the title of earl (to which duke and marquis were later, though sparingly, added) created a further demarcation in terms of status and precedence. It cannot be denied that there were wide variations in wealth and standing within this group

7 Frame, Ireland and Britain, passim.

8 Frame, English Lordship in Ireland, 16-18.

9 H. G. Richardson and G. O. Sayles, The Irish Parliament in the Middle Ages (Philadelphia,

1952), 130-4.

(between, say, an immensely rich royal duke such as John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster (d. 1399) and Fulk Fitzwarin (d. 1374) whose landed fortunes were relatively modest and who served in the military retinue of Gaunt); nor is it in doubt that there was an overlap, in income and status, between some of the lesser parliamentary barons and some of the knights of the shire. Nevertheless there is every reason to characterize this higher aristocracy as the ruling elite in England, Scotland, and English Ireland in our period, with the earldoms (normally twenty-five/thirty for all three areas) as a further top tier within this elite. It is this group in particular which we will have within our historical sights.

The overall size and importance of the group did not alter radically within our period, 1272—1422. But such apparent continuity and stability conceals the rapid turnover in the composition of the group from one generation to the next. Political miscalculation and forfeiture have often been identified as the major reason for such a turnover. Occasional bloodlettings (such as those of the reigns of Edward II and Richard II in England) could certainly leave their mark; but what is remarkable is the way that so many noble families, laid low in one generation, could recover their fortunes and standing in the next. Arundel, Despenser, Mortimer are instances which immediately spring to mind in England. It is in other directions in particular that we should look for the explanation for the rapid turnover in the ranks of the higher aristocracy. The primary reasons, it is now acknowledged, were the failure of families in the direct male line and the transfer of their estates and often their titles either to collaterals or, through marriage, to other families. McFarlane’s famous statistic that on average across the two centuries 1300 — 1500 a quarter of noble families became extinct in the direct male line (according to his definition of extinction) every twenty-five years is broadly confirmed by similar statistics for Scotland.10 Thus in England the following comital families failed in the direct legitimate male line of the body (in chronological order) in the fourteenth century: Edmund of Cornwall 1300, Bigod 1306, Lacy 1311, Clare 1314, Valence 1324, Warenne 1347, Bohun 1361, Lancaster 1361, Bohun (of Northampton) 1373, Ufford 1382, Hastings 1389. Only two families—Vere and Beauchamp—lasted the century, with two others (Courtenay and Fitzalan) as runners-up.

Such a drastic and regular thinning out of the ranks of the nobility—a phenomenon which seems to have been common to ‘gentle’ (and no doubt peasant) society generally and one of which contemporaries were all too painfully and morbidly aware—had to be counterbalanced by regular recruitment of ‘new’ men to take their place. Recruitment was generally a matter of service (military, political, diplomatic) and/or royal reward. So it was that Edward III,

10 McFarlane, Nobility, 146. For a critique and revised figures see the key contribution by S. J. Payling ‘Social Mobility, Demographic Change, and Landed Society in Late Medieval England’, Econ. HR, 45 (1992), 51—73. For Scottish figures see the articles by Alexander Grant cited above, p. 14.

in a spectacular act of generosity, rewarded six of the men who had helped him to overthrow Roger Mortimer and install his own regime by promoting them all to be earls on the same day in March 1337. David II of Scotland likewise signalled his indebtedness and that of his father to the devotion and prowess of the Douglas family by conferring the new title of earl of Douglas on William Douglas in 1358. Kings were not usually over-lavish in the bestowal of new comital titles: the Scottish kings only created two entirely new earldoms (Douglas and Crawford) during the whole of the fourteenth century; in England only twenty-four new earldoms (including the six created by Edward III in 1337) were created outside the immediate royal family between 1307 and 1397. The phrase ‘outside the immediate royal family’ is significant, since it identifies the other important source of recruitment of new individuals, and thereby families, into the ranks of the aristocracy. It was a pool of recruits where kings showed little restraint. All five of the surviving sons of Edward III were promoted to comital and eventually ducal rank (or indeed to that of prince in the case of Edward); and secured, often by royally provided and well-calculated marriages, a territorial endowment commensurate with their status. Even more remarkable was what happened in Scotland where the profile of the higher aristocracy was transformed and ‘stewartized’ during the second half of the fourteenth century.11 By 1377 seven out of sixteen Scottish earldoms were in the hands of the king or his sons, and through marriage many of the other earls were related to him. It is not the least of the reasons why aristocratic power and royal power are so inextricably intertwined in both countries.

The dominance of the higher aristocracy remained unchallenged throughout our period; but its composition changed, occasionally dramatically, from generation to generation, indeed decade to decade. Beyond this process of perpetual flux there are two other long-term changes within the ranks of this top nobility which we should note at this juncture. The first was a tendency for comital titles and estates to be aggregated into the hands of fewer major families generally as a consequence (intended or not) of the marriage of heiresses. Thus Thomas earl of Lancaster (d. 1322) held the earldoms of Lancaster and Leicester by inheritance, and those of Lincoln and Salisbury iure uxoris through his (estranged) wife, Alice, daughter of the last Lacy earl of Lincoln (d. 1311). Likewise when Humphrey de Bohun died in 1373 he held the earldom of Northampton (created in 1337) from his father and the much older earldoms of Hereford and Essex as the heir of his unmarried uncle. Scotland could produce many similar instances though few perhaps to match the clutch of one dukedom (Albany) and three earldoms (Atholl, Fife, and Menteith) which Robert Stewart (d. 1420) had cornered at different stages in his life. These accumulations of title explain why the number of earls is often considerably less than the number of earldoms; it also illustrates the universal truth that to those who have much, more is often given.

11 R. Nicholson, Scotland: The Later Middle Ages (Edinburgh, 1974), 187, 232.

The second long-term change has, perhaps, been less noticed and is of particular significance for the theme of this book. In 1272 it was not at all unusual for some major comital families to own and exploit rich lordships in England, the March of Wales, and Ireland. Likewise a considerable number of major Scottish families held estates and other appurtenances in England; the large east midlands earldom of Huntingdon, centred on Fotheringay, held by members of the Scottish royal family, was only the most outstanding example. The significance of these pan-British connections in the ranks of the higher aristocracy is obvious. They were the basis of territorial, social, cultural, economic, and marital links across the face of the British Isles, at least in the lowlands. They encouraged the transfer of personnel, institutions, and laws from one part of the British Isles to another, overwhelmingly from lowland England to the northern and western outliers. These bonds made for an increasing community of interests and habits within higher aristocratic society throughout the British Isles. Thus Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (d. 1295) was one of the premier earls of England and son-in-law of Edward; but the sphere of his travels and interests also took him to Glamorgan in Wales and Kilkenny and Dublin in Ireland. Had these pan-British links and connections been fostered and developed it is not inconceivable that a single British higher aristocracy might eventually have emerged.

But it was not to be. The door on such a prospect was in effect slammed shut in the late thirteenth-early fourteenth centuries, specifically between 1296 and 1333. In the former year the onset of the Scottish Wars of Independence inaugurated a prolonged period of bitter tension between England and Scotland and with it the severance of any remaining bonds and connections between the two higher aristocracies. In 1333 the last de Burgh earl of Ulster was murdered. Of itself the repercussions of his death were far-reaching, but more profoundly it manifested and confirmed the growing gulf between the ‘resident lords’ (as they have been called) of Ireland (notably the earls of Desmond, Kildare, and Ormond) and their absentee England-based colleagues. The bonds which had tied the aristocratic communities of England and English Ireland became increasingly attenuated and frayed, even if they did not cease to exist altogether. It is little wonder that Goddard Orpen chose to conclude his great Ireland under the Normans (1911-20) in 1333. Orpen may have been unduly optimistic in his view of the pax Normanica which English rule and settlement had brought to Ireland; but he was surely correct to suggest that after 1333 English Ireland was no longer normally part of the mental map, physical circuit, and political ambitions of the higher aristocracy of England. The aristocracies of England and English Ireland would henceforth largely go their own ways. There was to be no single British Isles aristocracy.

The only part of the British Isles beyond England which remained firmly part of the orbit of the English higher aristocracy was the March of Wales. The March of Wales, indeed, occupies a paradoxical position in the study of aristocratic lordship in the British Isles in our period. At any given point in the

thirteenth or fourteenth centuries a good proportion of English earls held one or more Marcher lordships in Wales (five out of ten in 1280; nine out of seventeen in 1380). There they exercised more ample and unfettered powers of lordship than anywhere else in Britain (including Ireland). It is therefore a particularly significant region for the study of the character and potential of aristocratic power. But there was no Marcher higher aristocracy as such. Rather was there an English aristocracy which exercised lordship, very ample lordship, in the March of Wales as an annex to its English power base.

So far we have tried to identify the group which is at the heart of this study, the higher aristocracy (especially earls and dukes) of England, Scotland, and English Ireland. From one angle it was, as we have seen, a group in constant flux as families failed, or were extinguished, in the male line and new members were recruited through the twin routes of service and royal favour. Such a rapid turnover notwithstanding, one of the obsessive concerns of the group centred on its identity and continuity through time. Heritage and inheritance were key concepts in its vocabulary; so was concern about the honour of the family and an emphasis on the depth and continuity of the family ‘name’. These were the warrantors of the antiquity and status of the family: they must be upheld and defended at all costs.

The issue was particularly vexatious for families which faced the prospect of extinction in the direct, legitimate male line. No one spent more sleepless nights over many years worrying about the problem than John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (d. 1347). He was one of the few leading magnates of his day who could genuinely show that he was descended from one of the companions of the Conqueror. The antiquity and continuity of his family was beyond reproach. It derived its name from Varenne near Dieppe; it had held its earldom (alternatively termed Warenne or Surrey) since 1088; John himself was the eighth descendant of the family to carry the title. John’s career as earl (1306—47) was remarkably long; to have survived the turmoil of Edward Il’s reign was no mean achievement. But in every other respect Earl John’s career was a disappointment, indeed a family disaster. He was estranged from his wife, Joan of Bar (granddaughter of Edward I) at an early date; but lacked the political clout to secure a divorce and the right to remarry. He had mistresses aplenty and fathered children by them. But he lacked a legitimate heir of his body and there can be no doubt that his nephew and putative heir, the powerful Richard Fitz Alan earl of Arundel (d. 1376), had successfully lobbied the king to ensure that no deal was done to his (Richard’s) disadvantage. But Earl John even in old age had not abandoned all hope of salvaging what was to him the most important ambition of his life: the continuation, as he put it, of ‘the name, honour and arms of Warenne’. So in his sixtieth year he struck a desperate bargain with Edward III and one which must have appealed almost as much to the king as to the earl. Should the old earl beget an heir by his wife, Isabel Holland—she was in fact his mistress but the

earl still fondly believed that he might secure a divorce, in spite of his repeated failures on that quest in the past—then this heir should marry a member of the royal family (John of Gaunt or Edmund of Langley, young as they were, were possibilities on the male side), taking with him/her the Warenne lands (or such as remained) and, crucially, ‘the name and arms of Warenne’. Should the ultimate catastrophe occur—namely that the earl should die without a legitimate heir of his body—then Edward III should have all the earl’s lands in Wales, Surrey, and Sussex (by then the remaining bulk of the Warenne estates) to be granted to one of the king’s sons and his heirs provided ‘the name, honour and arms of Warenne’ were retained. Many considerations no doubt pressed in on the earl as he made this desperate offer—making an honest woman of his long-time mistress and securing a royal match for his offspring (a temptation which has enticed the aristocracy down the centuries). But overriding these considerations was an anxiety which his fellow magnates (most of whom seem to have had a low view of the earl of Surrey) shared and appreciated—that of perpetuating the name and arms of the ancient family. This was a deep-seated instinct in all families.12

John Hastings, earl of Pembroke (d. 1375) shared that instinct to the full. It was made all the more pressing in his case since he was still in 1372 (aged twenty-five) without an heir of his body and was about to set out on what indeed proved to be a militarily hazardous expedition. He clearly discussed his plans with Edward III, and, though the king was ageing, he struck a shrewd bargain with the earl, as he had done with the earl of Surrey in 1346. As the price of sanctioning the arrangements which Hastings made, Edward III secured the reversion of the county of Pembroke and the lordships of Tenby, Cilgerran, and Ystlwyf—in other words a very substantial slice of south-west Wales—in the event of the failure of the male Hastings line. If Hastings died without issue, all his other lands were to be offered to his cousin, Sir William Beauchamp (the son of Hastings’s maternal aunt), on condition that ‘he shall bear the whole arms of the said earl’ and that he should do his best to persuade the king to allow him and his heirs to carry the title of ‘earl of Pembroke’. Should Beauchamp decline these conditions then the lands were to revert to another of Hastings’s friends who was not even a kinsman, Sir William Clinton. In other words Hastings was willing to undo the claims of the heir general (Reginald, Lord Grey of Ruthin) and to favour a maternal cousin and a friend in pursuit of his overriding family ambition—to protect the integrity of the family’s coat of arms and, if at all possible, its comital title.13

Dying without surviving male heir of the body was the nightmare which haunted gentle society generally. That is most graphically illustrated in the

12 The biography in E. R. Fairbank, ‘The Last Earl of Warenne and Surrey’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 19 (1907), 193—266, is still serviceable.

13 R. I. Jack, ‘Entail and Descent: The Hastings Inheritance’, BIHR, 38 (1965), 1 — 19.

window (no longer extant) which Sir Thomas Erpingham had constructed in the church of the Austin Friars at Norwich in 1419 ‘in remembrance of all the lords (seigneurs), barons, bannerets and knights who had died without male issue in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk since the coronation of the noble Edward the Third’. His tally ran to eighty-seven families.14 Taking out an insurance policy against the consequence of that failure was high on any nobleman’s agenda. Ralph Basset of Drayton (d. 1390) was highly aware of that. He had had a long and distinguished career: a fine and profitable record in the wars in France since 1356; two marriages into two of England’s comital families; and regular individual summonses to parliament 1357—89. But heirs of his body he had none. So in his will he transferred his lands successively to four men in tail male with the proviso in each case that each of them should carry the surname of Basset and his arms.15 The family and its arms were to survive regardless of the failure of direct male heirs of the body. Nor was this a peculiarly English phenomenon. When the powerful James Douglas, lord of Dalkeith, married his second daughter to John Hamilton in 1388 he stipulated that if his daughter, through the death of her brothers, became his heir then she and her husband would be bound to ‘accept and enjoy the surname of Douglas’ and the arms of James Douglas.16

Many families were willing to pay such a price. The example of one baronial family will serve. Already in 1323, on the death of his own son and heir, Robert Fitz Pain had anticipated that he might not beget another male heir of his body. And so it turned out to be, even though he survived for another thirty years or so. When he eventually died in 1354 the reversionary interest which he had agreed in 1323 came into effect. His inheritance in Somerset and Dorset was acquired by his nephew, Robert son of Richard Grey of Codnor and of Joan Fitz Pain. Robert Grey promptly changed his name to Robert Fitz Pain, thereby publicly acknowledging the source of his good fortune in his new surname. He was certainly not unique in this respect. It was a good bargain: he had secured an inheritance and his uncle could rest assured that the family name had survived after all.17Individual cases such as those of Warenne, Hastings, Basset, and Fitz Pain do not necessarily constitute a general rule; but they do lay bare the anxieties of magnate families and the devices they adopted to deal with them. The solution adopted by Ralph Basset is particularly interesting, since the descent of his estates, surname, and arms to four designated heirs in turn was restricted to them and their heirs in tail male. Succession in tail male—a legal device to which we will return later—had many aspects to it; but primary among them was an anxiety to keep the family inheritance intact and with it the family name, honour, and arms in the male line. It sought to perpetuate the family’s status and continuity through time.

14 McFarlane, Nobility, 145—6.

15 GEC sub nomine; CIPM, XXI, no. 63.

16 Mort. Reg., II, nos. 184, 196.

17 GEC sub nomine; CIPM, X, nos. 175, 292.

This sense of identity through time was likewise manifested in visual and tactile ways. Family mementoes and heirlooms were physical examples of the depth of family memory. Two examples from the annals of the Mortimer family spring to mind. Among the effects of Roger Mortimer at his execution in 1330 was ‘one brass horn which, with a certain falchion (a broad curved sword with a convex edge) which is, it is said, the charter of the land of Wigmore’.18 Roger had only very recently been created earl of March; but his family could indeed claim that it had held ‘the land of Wigmore’ since the morrow of the Norman conquest. The horn was quite likely ‘the great golden horn’ which his great-grandson, Edmund Mortimer earl of March (d. 1381), bequeathed to his son and heir in his will, along with another family heirloom, ‘our sword decorated with gold which belonged to good king Edward’.19 Similarly Lord Poynings left his heir ‘a ruby ring which is the charter of my inheritance of Poynings’.20 Not all such heirlooms were necessarily title deeds to property or status, but they often were redolent of a family’s strong sense of history and of its continuity through time. So it was that the earl of Warwick (d. 1369) left to his son ‘the coat of mail belonging to the famous Guy of Warwick’ or that the earl of Arundel (d. 1376) bequeathed to his son and heir his best coronet with a reminder that it should be transferred thereafter from heir to heir, lords of Arundel.21

Nothing affirmed gentle society’s identity and lineage more publicly than the heraldic emblems which it displayed as signs of its power, prestige, and apartness. The period 1250—1400 has a good claim to be regarded as the decisive period in the making of the English heraldic tradition and in establishing heraldic coats of arms as the signifier par excellence of noble identity and lineage.22 The young nobleman was now expected to be able to read and distinguish between various heraldic representations. It was, along with the technical jargon of hunting, what John of Salisbury had very appropriately termed ‘the scholarship of the aristocracy’. Nothing demarcates an elite more clearly than its mastery of a private technical vocabulary. Soon Rolls of Arms, the gazetteers of the new fashionable cult of heraldry, were in preparation: the earliest surviving English example dates from the mid thirteenth century; at least eighteen are still extant from the reign of Edward I. Heralds, the high priests of heraldic lore, came into their own, especially at tournaments and other high feasts of the aristocratic and chivalric year. By the fourteenth century all the leading aristocratic families had their own highly rewarded heralds—Mortimer,23 Beauchamp, and Mowbray among them.

18 For an example of a falchion as a title-deed see Age of Chivalry, no. 165.

19 Nichols, Wills, 112. 20 Test. Vet., 73.

21 W. Dugdale, The Baronage of England, 2 vols.(London, 1675—6), I, 233. For the will of Richard Fitzalan (d.1376), I have made use of a full transcript, provided to me by Michael Burtscher, from Lambeth Palace Library, Archbishop Sudbury’s Register, f.92v—f.94v.

22 See, most recently, Heraldry, Pageantry and Social Display in Medieval England, ed. Peter Coss and Maurice Keen (Woodbridge, 2003) and Keen, Origins of the English Gentleman.

23 Mortimer herald: CPR 1381—5, 156; BL Egerton Charters 8734.

John of Gaunt regularly gave gifts to his own and to visiting heralds, especially when they attended the jousts arranged by him.24

Armorial bearings became increasingly elaborate as the fourteenth century progressed. In particular the practice of quartering provided an opportunity for displaying alliances by marriage and dependence. Heraldic emblems were now the visual means which declared immediately and proudly to the world the status, identity, interrelatedness, and antiquity of noble families. They swamped aristocratic England in a rash of heraldic blazons—not only on shields and seals but on almost every item of property—domestic plate, ecclesiastical vestments, liturgical vessels, caskets and chests, tiled pavements, furniture, glass windows, and even the most prized illuminated books. No elite has more obsessively and profusely paraded the hereditary badges of its identity. So it was, to quote a few examples, that the countess of Pembroke commissioned two tapestries adorned with her husband’s arms (Valence); or that Edmund, earl of March (d. 1381) bequeathed in his will ‘a great bed of black satin embroidered with white lions with escutcheons of the arms of Mortimer and Ulster’ (his paternal and maternal forbears); or that the earl of Norfolk in 1415 commissioned the Mowbray arms to be painted on the seven windows of the hall of his London house and the hatchment of his arms to be added to those of other lords of England in the hall of the bishop of Durham.25 In Scotland in a similar fashion the house of Douglas celebrated its remarkable rise to pre-eminence in aristocratic society by making great play of the role of its effective founder, Sir James Douglas, who had died on crusade in Spain carrying King Robert I’s heart. ‘The Bludy Heart’ was now the proud identifying badge of the family. It was flaunted on their standard in battle, stamped on their wooden bowls, and carved on their buildings and religious foundations.26 Such arms and emblems declared the family’s identity and upheld its honour. To challenge the authenticity and the exclusivity of a family’s coat of arms was, therefore, to impugn its honour in the most fundamental fashion. It could lead to prolonged litigation in the Court of Chivalry, of which the famous and bitter Scrope—Grosvenor dispute of the 1380s is the classic and best-documented instance.

Alongside heraldic devices we should mention badges and collars, which became an increasingly common means of expressing aristocratic (and royal) associations of service and lordship from the mid fourteenth century. The significance of badges and collars—such as the ragged staff of the Beauchamps, the SS collar of the house of Lancaster (from Gaunt’s time), or the heraldic knot of the Staffords—from our point of view is that they hugely extended

24 For example Reg. JG, II, nos. 327, 556 (p. 180), 803 (p. 259).

25 For Mary of St Pol’s will see H. Jenkinson, ‘Mary de Sancto Paulo, Foundress of Pembroke College, Cambridge’, Archaeologia, 66 (1914), 401—46; the will of Edmund Mortimer as cited above n. 19; *Berkeley Muniments (account of Receiver General 1414—15).

26 Brown, Black Douglases, 122 — 5; idem, ‘ “Rejoice to hear of Douglas’’: The House of Douglas and the Presentation of Magnate Power in Late Medieval Scotland’, SHR, 76 (1997), 161 — 84.

the opportunities for an aristocratic family to display the extent of its circle of power and affinity. The distribution of livery (often in the family’s colours) was yet another way in which the aristocracy could manifest visually its capacity to command dependence, particularly from members of gentle society. It was part of the semiotics of aristocratic power and a vivid display of the depth of dependence and support it could command. Even the earl of Devon, one of the lesser English earls, listed at least 130 persons—ranging from seven knights to four minstrels and six pages—who were in receipt of his livery in 1384—5.27 So aristocratic lordship displayed itself and its solidarity in the person and dress of its dependants. Paradoxically, the outcry against badges and liveries in the later fourteenth century only served to emphasize that such a display of power and dependence was perfectly acceptable among the higher aristocracy (defined in the statute of 1390 as dukes, earls, barons, and bannerets) but prohibited to those (knights and others) below this rank. This was a further acknowledgement—alongside the definition of a quasi-hereditary parliamentary peerage in England—that the higher aristocracy stood clearly apart from, and above, the rest of ‘gentle’ society. A great lord must have his ‘worship’; distributing his livery, badge, and collar was a necessary part of cultivating such ‘worship’.

For such a status-conscious elite, cultivating its past was a matter of necessity as well as of sentiment and piety. The past, after all, was the validating charter of its identity and power. It could well be a legendary past; but in a society besotted with Arthurian tales, classical romances, and feudal epics that was no deterrent. The Beauchamp family provides an instructive example. It milked the stories about its legendary founder—Earl Guy of Warwick, the man who was claimed to have saved England from the Danes—to maximum effect.28 His image slaying a dragon was vividly represented on the famous Beauchamp mazer; a tower named after him was constructed in Warwick castle in 1394; and a tapestry illustrating the legend was hung in the castle itself.29 The Beauchamps were singularly fortunate in the fifteenth century in that they were able to supplement the legends of the mythical Earl Guy by the prowess of a contemporary earl, the great Earl Richard of Warwick (d. 1439). His cult was as vigorously promoted as that of his predecessor—be it in his magnificent effigy (the most striking surviving monument to an English earl) in the Beauchamp chapel in the collegiate church at Warwick, or in the pictorial biography of his ‘noble actes’ in the fifty-three pen-and-ink drawings of The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp, or in the illustrated

27 M. Cherry, ‘The Courtney Earls of Devon: the Formation and Disintegration of a Late Medieval Aristocratic Affinity’, Southern History, 1 (1979), 71—97.

28 E. Mason, ‘Legends of the Beauchamps’ Ancestors: The Use of Baronial Propaganda in Medieval England’, Journal of Medieval History, 10 (1984), 25—40.

29 Age of Chivalry, no. 155; Test. Vet., I, 52—4, 79 — 80, 153 — 5; R. K. Morris, ‘The Architecture of the Earls of Warwick in the Fourteenth Century’, in England in the Fourteenth Century, ed. W. M. Ormrod (Woodbridge, 1986), 161—74.

roll-chronicles (one in Latin, the other in English) which John Rous prepared to recount the history and the achievements of the family from its legendary beginnings onwards.30

John Rous was a chantry priest. That helps to identify a group or institution which had a vested interest in cultivating and perpetuating the historical memory of noble families—the churches and monasteries which had been endowed by them. Their own standing and endowment were grounded in past noble benefactions and their prospects for the future were likewise tied to the generosity of the same families or their descendants. So it was that they cultivated the history of those families in their annals, histories, and cartularies. Tewkesbury abbey was even more innovative. In the 1340s it commissioned representations of the aristocratic patrons of the abbey to be placed in the two westernmost windows of the choir clerestory. Starting with Robert Fitzhamon (d. 1107) they outlined the descent of the lords of the honour of Tewkesbury down to Eleanor de Clare (d. 1337) and her two husbands.31 It was a visual title-deed, as it were, and no doubt pleasing to abbey and lord alike. Within churches and monasteries, the continuity of noble families through time was further demonstrated in the serried ranks of family tombs such as the magnificent series of Fitzalan tombs at Arundel. Even more impressive—though they have not survived—were the Mortimer tombs at Wigmore abbey. Hugh Mortimer (d. 1185) had founded the abbey in 1179 and clearly intended it to be a family mausoleum. He was not to be disappointed in that respect. Every head of the Mortimer family thereafter until 1398 was laid to rest in the abbey and so were several other members of the family.

We know the details of the Mortimer burials because they are carefully recorded in what is perhaps the most remarkable fourteenth-century aristocratic chronicle, the account of the Mortimer family from the Norman conquest embedded in the Wigmore abbey chronicle. The chronicle (University of Chicago MS. 224) is a composite volume and has not yet received the detailed analysis it deserves.32 Its provenance is immediately revealed in its opening Anglo-Norman account of the early, tumultuous years of Wigmore abbey. But its focus was far from being exclusively local. It also contains a potted historical topography of Britain

30 Gothic: Art for England, 1400—1547, ed. R. Marks and P. Williamson (London, 2003), nos. 85, 87, 96.

31 Age of Chivalry, no. 742.

32 My comments on the Wigmore chronicle are based on a microfilm copy of the Chicago MS. in the Bodleian Library. For a detailed, though not fully accurate, description of the ms., see M. E. Griffin, ‘A Wigmore Manuscript at the University of Chicago’, National Library of Wales Journal, 7 (1951—2), 316—25. The Anglo-Norman account of the foundation of the abbey is published in J. Dickinson and P. T. Ricketts, ‘The Anglo-Norman Chronicle of Wigmore Abbey’, Transactions of the Woolhope Field Club, 39 (1969), 413—46. The Brut section of the chronicle has never been published. The Mortimer chronicle is published in extenso in Dugdale, Monasticon, VI, i, 348—55; but this edition has some puzzling omissions and cannot begin to convey the visual character of the chronicle and its genealogies.

based on the Brut chronicle, but also displaying an unusual knowledge of, and interest in, the borderlands and dynasties of central Wales, the focus of so much of the military prowess and territorial claims of the Mortimer family. But what is of particular interest for the current argument are the twelve folios devoted to the history of the Mortimers. This takes the form of heraldic genealogy of the family displayed in the arms of the head of the family and those of each of their wives. The genealogy is accompanied by a historical narrative concentrating on the prowess of members of the family, their marital alliances, their benefactions to the abbey and a remarkably fulsome and detailed characterization of Earl Edmund (d. 1381) and his son Earl Roger (d. 1398). In spite of some inaccuracies and confusions, the account is impressive both in its attempt to construct a coherent history of the family and, above all, in its glimpses of detailed local knowledge—such as the precise account of the landed endowment which Earl Roger (d. 1330) gave to his daughter Matilda on her marriage to John Charlton or the description of Earl Edmund (d. 1381) transporting timber from his lordship of Usk in south-east Wales to build a fortified bridge across the river Bann at Coleraine in the Mortimer lordship of Ulster.

The Mortimer chronicle was almost certainly written in the late fourteenth century, though with periodic additions (including an account of the battle of Shrewsbury, 1403) thereafter. A reference to Earl Roger (d. 1398) as dominus meus suggests as much; so does the intimate knowledge of his career and that of his father. Family continuity through time was its theme; but it had also a more ambitious, even sinister agenda—to proclaim the genealogical pretensions of the Mortimer family to be descended from the royal dynasties of England and Wales and even to locate such pretensions in the fantasy world of the Brut legend. It is easy to appreciate how such notions could have been nourished in the family’s monastery at Wigmore and among the Mortimer clerical adherents. Adam Usk—born in a Mortimer lordship, educated at the expense of Earl Edmund, a man steeped in Welsh genealogical lore and prophecy and a character of floating political loyalties—is a possible candidate.33 Be that as it may, what the Mortimer chronicle shows—especially when placed side by side with the magnificent Mortimer cartulary of the same period34—is how assiduously noble families, and their clerical and monastic supporters, cultivated their histories. It was an affirmation of the antiquity and continuity of their status. The Mortimer family was not alone in this respect; indeed one suspects that it was the norm, even if the celebration of a family’s past achievements took a variety of forms. When the Douglas family wanted to celebrate the remarkable dominance it had come to enjoy in fifteenth-century Scotland, it steered clear of a prosaic Latin chronicle. Instead the Buke of the Howlat (the book of the owl) was a long poetic allegory; but its central message was a sustained paean of praise for the Douglas

33 For Adam Usk see Adam Usk, Chronicle.

34 See below p. 38.

family in the form of a celebration of its prowess, its status, its heraldic arms, its loyalty to the crown, and its title to its lands.35

Genealogies, chronicles, and allegorical poems served to express and confirm the depth of the aristocracy’s historical memory; archives and muniments were the records of its title to land and wealth and of its exploitative management of that wealth. Surviving aristocratic records are disappointing and misleading in this respect. They only represent a minute tithe of what once existed. Many of them survive only as the result of political accident—be it the forfeiture of a family (which, for example, brought huge caches of documents and lists of archives from the houses of Lancaster and Mortimer into the exchequer in 1322) or its accession to the throne (as happened to the house of Lancaster in 1398). Aristocratic houses doubtless kept copies of their title deeds to lands and franchises from the twelfth century; but it was from about the mid thirteenth century that their record-keeping activities began to become more systematic.36 It is from about that period that evidence begins to survive of annual household and financial accounts (both central and manorial), court rolls and, later, auditorial reports and valors. By the fourteenth century major figures such as the Black Prince and John of Gaunt were keeping registers of all their official correspondence, as the English chancery had done since 1200.37 There is no reason to believe that they were unique in this respect.

Some of the records so produced might only be kept for a few years, for purposes of audit and cross-referencing. Some were stored locally; others were sent to a central treasury, either automatically or on request. Thus in 1372 a command was issued that all the accounts of John of Gaunt’s receivers-general, treasurers of war, and treasurers of the household and all other officers should be deposited in the treasury at the Savoy (where they were to be destroyed during the Great Revolt of 1381).38 But equally, much more local records could be called in for scrutiny: thus in 1384 the court rolls of the Mortimer lordship of Radnor were to be taken to the treasury (in effect the muniment room) at Ludlow. З9

Much of this record-depositing was no doubt part of the routine process of the audit and interrogation of officials, local and central. Thus when the muniments of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore (among other Contrariants) were deposited in the Tower of London in 1322 they included ‘in an old pouch of canvas, the rolls of the bailiffs and reeves of Roger for various manors, rolls of household expense of said Roger, and divers letters sent to Roger and members of his household. . . and also the account rolls of Caerleon, Tintern, Edeligion and

35 Longer Scottish Poems: 1. 1365—1650, ed. P. Bawcutt and F. Riddy (Edinburgh, 1987), 43—84. Also Brown, Black Douglases, 10—12, 62—3, 277—8.

36 For lists of Lancaster archives, see Holmes, Estates, 66—9, 70—3; R. Somerville, History of the Duchy of Lancaster. Vol 1:1265—1603 (London, 1953), 116—17; 194.

37 For a reference to an early (non-surviving) register of John of Gaunt, Reg. JG, I, no. 748.

38 Reg. JG, I, no. 1126.

39 NLW, Radnor account (unnumbered).

Usk and other manors in the parts of Wales’.40 All these were dismissed by the royal clerks as ‘of no value’ (qui non sunt alicuius valoris). The problems of record management and selective archive retention were already vexing issues.

Nevertheless there can be no doubt that for aristocratic families the safe custody and arrangement of their muniments were a high priority. These were, after all, literally and metaphorically the title-deeds for their wealth and thereby for their status and standing. So it was, for example, that the Black Prince put in an order for a ‘great chest fastened with three locks and keys for the rolls of the Prince, to be kept in the treasury which was in turn to be locked with three locks’.41 Likewise the earl of Warwick bought thirty-six chests at Worcester in 1402 in which ‘to deposit the muniments and charters’ for the earl. Later in the fifteenth century the dukes of Buckingham were to construct a specially built muniment room at Thornbury castle, where estate accounts and papers were to be deposed in padlocked iron-bound chests.42

The most valuable documents kept in these chests were the title-deeds to property. These were not items of antiquarian interest; they were cardinal documents in upholding title to property. So it was, for example, that the earl of Warwick in 1397 ordered muniments relating to the manor of Berkeley to be brought from Warwick to London, no doubt to help the case which his legal advisers were mounting.43 Such archives were carefully arranged for quick reference and often had considerable chronological depth to them. Thus the Lancaster archives seized at Pontefract in 1322 contained not only recent Lancaster material but also collections relating to the families of Montfort, Ferrers, and Lacy (earls of Leicester, Derby, and Lincoln respectively) which had now been subsumed in the Lancaster empire. Even more revealing of the degree to which archival organization had developed in baronial estates are the careful lists prepared of the Mortimer muniments in 13 22.44 The muniments were systematically arranged in chests, coffers, pouches of canvas, and bags of white hide, each identified by a reference letter—for instance in quodam coffino ligneo ad hanc litteram Q. They were arranged partly chronologically—starting with documents dating to the period of Ralph Mortimer (d. 1246)—and partly according to subject matter—recognizances, loans, and the like. This was clearly a ‘working’ archive; it was the documentary underpinning of the power and pretensions of one of the fast-rising baronial (soon to be comital) families of later medieval England.

The coping-stone on the Mortimer family’s cultivation of its archival, and thereby its institutional, identity across time was the compilation of a cartulary. It was not, of course, alone in this. Every major church and monastery, every major aristocratic family did the same. Among aristocratic families we can certainly

40 BL Egerton Charters 8723.

41 Reg. BP, I, 150—1.

42 BL Egerton Charters 8770; Rawcliffe, The Staffords, 2.

43 BL Egerton Charters 8769.

44 BL Egerton Charters 8723, and for the Badlesmere archive BL Egerton 8724.

number Beauchamp, Courtenay, Percy, Stafford, and Vere and of course the magnificent two-volume Coucher Book (as it is called) of the house of Lancaster. In Scotland the Registrum Honoris de Morton is the register of the Douglases of Dalkeith and probably the oldest cartulary of a lay estate in Scotland.

The Mortimer cartulary, the Liber Niger de Wigmore (BL Harleian MS. 240) is particularly interesting, since it reveals the filing system in the Mortimer archives which lay behind the enrolments of the deeds in the cartulary. It was a cross-referencing system of which no modern cataloguer would be ashamed. The rationale of the calendar of the cartulary was as follows:

1. Each manor or lordship was itemized alphabetically. Forty-four such units are itemized.

2. This was followed by the title of the muniment chest in which the deed or deeds relating to it would be found, e.g. ‘Aderleye (re. Arley co. Warwick) souz cest title Badlesmere’.

3. A brief description of the deed would be given. ( This enables the lacunae in the cartulary to be made good from a second copy of the calendar, BL Add. MS. 6041.)

4. This is followed by the endorsed number of the deed to be found on the original version in the muniment chest, e.g. xij.

5. The folio reference to the copy of the deed in the cartulary is then provided, e.g. xlj fo.

6. A final finding-aid is added to the calendar. This indicates on which folio of the cartulary the copies of deeds relating to contiguous or associated manors are to be found, e.g. Bridgwater, Odcombe, and Milverton (all in Somerset)—folio xvj.

The Mortimer cartulary (and its calendar) was assembled in the late fourteenth century, quite probably under the direction of the consortium (whose executive head was Sir Thomas Mortimer) which took over the running of the Mortimer estates during the prolonged minority which followed the premature death of Earl Edmund in 1381. From the point of view of our argument the significance of the cartulary—compiled during a minority, one of the most vulnerable periods in a family’s history—is that it affirmed and expressed the territorial, historical, and geographical foundations of the family’s wealth and power. It was the written declaration of those foundations and thereby of the family’s institutional memory in time. And so were all cartularies.

Cartularies, family chronicles and legends, genealogies, heraldic devices, funerary monuments were all part of the paraphernalia of a family’s cult of its continuity through time. They were essential elements in the exercise of self-validation and self-promotion in a world in which the authority of the past was the charter for present status. This was also a highly visual world in which the icons of power

were regularly on public display. There was nothing that was specifically and exclusively aristocratic (in the narrow sense of the word) about these monuments of memories. After all, coats of arms, genealogies, and funerary monuments were likewise part of the world of knights and esquires, while the use of seals as the signifier of identity and authenticity had now extended to the lower orders of society. But in the landscape and hierarchy of power in the late medieval British Isles, no one could be in any doubt that the greater magnates stood out in wealth and status. Their buildings, their parks, their retinues of servants, their armies, their sports, their dress, the ‘reverence’ and the ‘worship’ which they commanded—all of them proclaimed that, alongside kings—and indeed as their companions—the great magnates were the elite.

We have described this elite so far in group terms, even if we have had to acknowledge that its composition changed from generation to generation. Such a collective approach is well justified by the fact that its members did indeed see themselves as a distinct and, to a considerable degree, exclusive group. It is true that they shared many of their concerns and priorities—about issues such as the descent of estates, provision for daughters and younger children, a fascination with heraldry and chivalry, their intense sense of status and etiquette, their self-image as a warrior caste, and their conviction that they were the natural governors of society just as they were the ‘natural counsellors’ of the king—with ‘gentle’ society generally. But there was also a real sense in which they stood apart from the rest of ‘gentle’ society, in wealth, status, and in self-perception as in the perception of others. They had, particularly in England, begun to call themselves ‘peers’, to claim certain jurisdictional and other privileges, and to meet apart at national assemblies. Their group identity and group consciousness was strong.

But ultimately the quality of a group is considerably determined by the character and individuality of the members who compose it. The great aristocracy has suffered in this respect, especially as compared with kings. We are conscious, of course, that kingship can be described in institutional and general terms. We also recognize that the behaviour and policies of kings are shaped and constrained by the conventions, practices, and habits of the office they hold. But we are also intensely aware that the personality, character, and policies of a king can shape and even transform the fortunes and reputation of a reign. Thus, whatever the mould of common problems, powers, and constraints within which they operated, no one would confuse Edward I with his son Edward II or underrate the degree to which their very different personalities set the tone of their respective reigns. But we rarely extend these considerations of individuality to the greater aristocracy, other than in composing individual biographies of them. It is, of course, in part a problem (as so often with the higher aristocracy) ofmanageability and sources. How can one present the characters of two-to-three dozen major aristocrats, especially when contemporary insights into their personalities are so generally wanting? With that limitation we must learn to live; but at least we need to be aware of the danger of packaging their personalities and behaviour under a blanket of bland generalizations about the aristocracy.45

In the first place we must recognize that a great, or indeed not so great, earl could play a crucially directive role in shaping the character of his lordship. He (or sometimes she) was the lord; his was often the first and last word in the making and enforcing of decisions about his lordship. So it was also with kingship. In the case of both kingship and lordship, the surviving historical sources may, paradoxically, serve us ill in this respect. They are primarily the documents of bureaucracy, control, and accountability. They convey the priorities and habits of the world of officialdom and are a remarkably impressive record of how well and systematically lords (like kings) were served by their officers. But they rarely take us to the heart of decision-making and even less so to the intensely personal world in which lords, like kings, operated. They are to that extent depersonalized. Secondly, in so far as the careers of great aristocrats impinge on contemporary narrative sources, it is their public activities—their military exploits, their diplomatic forays, or their political ambitions—which catch the eye, and which can also be documented from the superb royal archives. Public careers were crucially important for most (though not all) magnates; ‘public’ service was part of the cursus of a nobleman’s life and the route to fortune and favour (and sometimes misfortune). None of this is to be gainsaid; but not at the expense of overlooking the intense personal interest that most great lords took in the affairs of their own lordships. To put it in the unlovely contemporary phrase, much aristocratic lordship was ‘hands-on’ lordship, as ultimately was kingship.

The lord’s personality and direction were at the heart of lordship. Paradoxically nowhere is this better displayed than in the correspondence of the greatest of the English lords of the period, Edward, earl of Chester, duke of Cornwall and prince of Wales (from 1343) and of Aquitaine (from 1362). The surviving corpus of his letters is in this respect much more revealing than that of his younger brother, John of Gaunt. The Prince is best remembered as a great military warrior, the flower of chivalry and largesse; but he was also consumed by meticulous oversight of the most minute affairs of his lordships in England and Wales. Decisions were regularly made ‘by the command of the Prince himself’, ‘by record of the Prince’, ‘by bill sealed with the Prince’s secret seal’, or because ‘the Prince had [the issue] at heart’. The recommendations of his officers in Cheshire were repeated to him and he kept a copy of them to hand ‘to refresh his memory’ and warned that no judgment should be delivered ‘without consulting’ him. His officials lived in fear of his hawk eye and severe reprimand: he ‘marvelled’ at their decision and they were charged to send him transcripts of all the evidence regarding their decision.46

45 The brief biographies in this chapter are culled from a wide range of historical sources. They also draw on the invaluable biographies in GEC, DNB, and (since the chapter was originally composed) ODNB.

46 Reg. BP, II, 37, 46, 47, 49, 50,61,65 etc.;III, 10,20,98, 113,etc.

The Prince may have been an unusually brusque and hard taskmaster; but there is no reason to believe that his degree of direction, scrutiny, and intervention was unusual among the higher aristocracy. Another busy warrior, Earl Richard Beauchamp of Warwick (d. 1439), was kept in regular touch with the affairs of his lordship when he was on campaign in France and could issue orders to be carried out ‘by the lord’s command’, just as Sir Peter de la Mare was given oral instructions by his lord, the earl of March.47 Court roll evidence makes it clear that proclamation might be made in court by the lord, pardons issued by him ‘in propria persona’,48 petitions thrust into his hand ‘as he walked in the cloisters between the chamber and the hall after breakfast’;49 warrants were drafted at his personal authorization; and decisions regularly deferred until he had been consulted.50 Most intimidating of all would have been the lord’s personal presence at the annual audit of the accounts of officials. Doubtless in many cases the business was left to the lord's auditors and members of his council. But the lord’s physical presence was certainly not unknown. Isabella de Fortibus is known to have been present several times at the audit of her officers 1263—90; the earl of Salisbury in 1368 himself examined and approved the payments made by his treasurer; and when a valor of the estates of Anne, countess of Stafford (d. 1438) was compiled in 1436, it was supplemented by two copies of the roll of arrears, one specifically for ‘the personal scrutiny of the lady herself’ (devers ma dame pur sa conusance demesne).51

These examples are no doubt no more than the tips of an iceberg of seigniorial intervention. The lord’s will—be it his benevolence or his spleen—was a cardinal factor in shaping policy. The reputation of lords was a matter of public knowledge, for good or ill. The younger Despenser (d. 1326) was known as ‘the greediest of men', a reputation fully borne out by his actions and his surviving correspondence; ‘the Welshmen hated the rule of Hugh’ was the tart comment of a well-informed contemporary chronicler on him.52 The reputation of the Grey lords of Dyffryn Clwyd (north Wales)/Ruthin was not much better. When the Grey lands were temporarily taken into royal custody in 1322—3, the men of Dyffryn Clwyd were so anxious to avoid the prospect of a further spell of Grey lordship (seigneurie) that they offered the king 600

47 Carpenter, Locality and Polity, 371; NLW, Radnor account (oretenus facto Petro de la Mare).

48 As a selection of phrases from the court rolls of the Greys of Ruthin illustrates: ‘proclamacio facta in curia in presencia dominiper dominum; relief respited until ‘habeat colloquium cum domino’; ‘condonatur per dominum in propria persona: TNA SC 2/220/1 m.171;/10 m.2;/12 m.32.

49 S. Walker, ‘Lordship and Lawlessness in the Palatinate of Chester, 1370—1400’, Journal of British Studies, 28 (1989), 325-48, at 329.

50 A. Goodman, John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe (Harlow, 1992), 312-13.

51 N. Denholm-Young, Seigniorial Administration in England (Oxford, 1937), 142; Household Accounts, I, 47.

52 The phrase is that of the Lanercost chronicle quoted in Davies, Lordship and Society, 279. For the exceptionally revealing correspondence see ibid., 280 n. 17.

marks to be rid of it.53 The reputation of a lord for hard-nosed niggardliness and extortion could live in popular memory for generations: so it was that the memory of the pious Humphrey earl of Hereford (d. 1361) in Brecon was as ‘a cross, peevish Old Batchelor’ and ‘a most miserable Covetous grinding man’.54 Powerful ladies could also leave behind them a fearsome reputation; none more so that Joan Beauchamp, lady of Abergavenny (d. 1435). She survived her husband, Sir William Beauchamp (d. 1411), a cadet member of the Warwick earls, by twenty-four years and ruled her estates with a rod of iron. She was after all a daughter of the Fitzalan family, the most successfully entrepreneurial comital family of fourteenth-century England. Hard-headed and hard-hearted businesswoman she might have been,55 but the reputation that she left was an unpleasantly fearsome one. Adam Usk might have had his own personal reasons for describing her, memorably, as ‘a second Jezebel’; but others shared his view. The collector of taxes in Worcestershire claimed, no doubt with some exaggeration, that because of the ill will in which she held him, he dared not collect the taxes for fear of deaths!56

Men like Adam Usk and the tax collector were under no illusions: lordship, like kingship, was ultimately intensely personal. Thus when Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk, remitted ‘all his rancour and indignation’ against one of his officials we catch a glimpse of how the lord’s emotions57—like the ira and malevolentia of Angevin kingship—were key elements in the exercise of power. We can hear it likewise in the threatening bluster of the letters of the duke of Buckingham (d. 1521) to his recalcitrant Welsh tenants.58 But as with kingship, so with lordship wilful power could easily destroy itself. That is why Bruce McFarlane rightly identified ‘affability, however rough’ as a crucial quality of good and effective lordship.59 It could operate in a variety of ways: indulging the selfimportance of local power-brokers, showing the largesse which was at the heart of good lordship, working with the grain of local society and its anxieties, and making timely grants and concessions to local communities. In that sense again, the acts of lordship largely replicated the acts of kingship. Two examples from the March of Wales may serve to illustrate sensitive lordship at work. In the mid 1290s, when relationships between Edward I and several leading earls were

53 Cal. Anc. Pets., 168—9.

54 Quoted in R. R. Davies, ‘Brecon’, Boroughs of Medieval Wales, ed. R. A. Griffiths (Cardiff, 1978), 46-70 at p. 54.

55 The value ofher Welsh estates in 1421 is published in J. A. Bradney, A History of Monmouthshire from the Coming of the Normans into Wales Down to the Present Time 12 vols. (1904-33), II, 4 and that of her English estates in 1426 is in TNA SC 11/25.

56 Adam Usk, Chronicle, 130, 132; TNA E 28/37/15.

57 Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland, ed. H. S. Sweetman, 5 vols. (London, 1875-86), II, no. 1875.

58 The letters are in NLW, Peniarth MS 280 (‘The Red Booke of Caures Castle’).

59 K. B. McFarlane, England in the Fifteenth Century: Collected Essays with an Introduction by G. L. Harriss (London, 1981), 253.

very strained, the king deliberately set out to try to destabilize the power and support of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford (d. 1299) in his great lordship of Brecon. But the king was outwitted by the earl who summoned the men of Brecon before his officials, confirmed their laws and usages, made further concessions on forest rights, and used local Welshmen to curry support. The earl won this propaganda battle hands down: as the royal official was forced to acknowledge, ‘they were all at one with their lord.’60 This was good lordship at work. And it was at work from one generation to the next, as the men of Brecon stood solidly behind the Bohun earls in the various political crises of the next decades. Just as Earl Humphrey displayed his skill in the arts of good lordship in the 1290s, so did Roger Mortimer, earl of March (d. 1398) in the 1390s. Roger Mortimer was but a young man, but he assiduously and successfully cultivated his support and ties with the men of his extensive estates in Wales and the March—employing them in his service, enlisting them in his armies, and dispensing ecclesiastical and academic patronage to them. When he was summoned by the deeply suspicious Richard II to appear before the Shrewsbury parliament in January 1398, he was rapturously received by his followers and accompanied by a retinue wearing hoods in his colours of red and green.61 The circumstances were, it is true, unusual; but lordship worked through charisma, display, and reward as well as through bluster and hard-nosed audit. In short, it was at one level intensely personal and intensely individual.

Given that lordship was personal and that the character of the problems and opportunities which faced it varied so widely, we might better grasp the individuality of lord and lordship by brief thumbnail sketches of three of these great lords. They are not among the best-known magnates of the period, though their role is well acknowledged within the historiography of their respective countries. What interests us about them is less the details of their biographies (those are amply chronicled in The Complete Peerage and in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography) than the light they may cast on the varying nature and very different challenges of lordship in different parts of the British Isles in the fourteenth century.

Our first choice is the remarkably long-lived Richard Burgh, earl of Ulster (d. 13 26).62 He was the descendant of an East Anglian family which had, through its own prowess and royal support, found fortune and fame in Ireland in the thirteenth century. He was the second of the family to enjoy the title ‘earl of Ulster’, the only comital title in English Ireland in the late thirteenth century. In many respects Earl Richard would have been at home in the circle of his fellow earls in England. He had been nurtured as a lad at Edward I’s court and was

60 Cal. Anc. Corr., 101 (re-dated in Davies, Lordship and Society, 269).

61 Davies, Lordship and Society, 61; Adam Usk, Chronicle, 38; Wigmore Chronicle in Dugdale, Monasticon, VI, i, 354.

62 For Richard de Burgh I have also drawn heavily on G. H. Orpen’s series of articles on the earldom of Ulster in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 43—51 (1913—21).

referred to affectionately as ‘the king’s groom’ and served in person by the king’s side in the 1280s and 1290s. He enjoyed the cult of chivalry, holding great feasts and conferring the belt of knighthood. He played his part in English politics at least occasionally, including standing as one of the guarantors of the treaty of Leake in 1318. His marriage alliances for his six daughters established links with some of the premier families of the day—including the earls of Gloucester (Clare) and Carrick (Bruce). On the lowland manors of the Ulster coast and in Munster he exercised an economic and manorial lordship very similar to that of the generality of English magnates. Like them, he was a great castle builder and like them he was expected to make, and normally did make, a major contribution to the armies of Edward I in Wales, Gascony, and Scotland.

In short, Earl Richard could have hobnobbed comfortably with Earl Thomas of Lancaster (d. 1322) or Earl Guy of Warwick (d. 1315). But there were dimensions to his career and to his lordship which set him and his like clearly apart from them. He belonged also to the world of Ireland in general and of English Ireland in particular. By the second half of his career about half of Ireland lay, formally at least, under his rule. His lordship in much of it was very different from that familiar in most of England (with the possible exception of the far north). He parleyed with Irish chieftains; deposed Irish kings; collected huge tributes in cattle from Irish lineages; went regularly on punitive raids, pillaging and taking hostages. This was a world of war and raids; he who exercised lordship here did so as a warlord. Earl Richard was almost certainly an Irish speaker and a patron of Irish bards. He was also the leading magnate in the world of English Ireland. This was a world which was increasingly different in its political culture and behaviour from that of aristocratic and royal England. It was a world of querulous warlords and their retinues (lineages or ‘surnames’ as they were called). Navigating survival, let alone mastery, in this world demanded exceptional skills. Earl Richard used marriage as one of those skills, marrying three of his daughters to the earls (as they later became) of Louth, Kildare, and Desmond. But marriages could not defuse all the tensions: Earl Richard found himself in prison twice, once (1294—5) in the custody of an arch rival, John Fitz Thomas, and a second time (1317) because his loyalty was called in question during the invasion of Edward Bruce (1315 — 18), the brother of King Robert I of Scotland.

In short, the powers that Richard Burgh exercised and the very varied contexts in which he had to operate were a far cry from the world of aristocratic lordship in England, especially lowland England. There were, of course, continuities from the one world to the others; but the differences and the complexities were even greater. The successful exercise of lordship, especially the lordship of the premier magnates, was proportionately much more critical to the political and social health of much of Ireland (at least outside the limited, anglicized enclaves) than it was in England, for Ireland was (in Robin Frame’s phrase) ‘a patchwork of lordships’. When Earl Richard died in 1326 he was complimented by an Irish annalist as ‘the best of the Galls (i.e. English) in Ireland’; but what truly alarmed contemporaries was the vacuum of lordship that was created by his death. That alarm turned into reality in 1333 when Earl Richard’s grandson and heir was murdered and left no male heir.63 The effects were catastrophic; it was a crisis of lordship and therefore of power and order. English Ireland in many respects never recovered from the blow; that is a measure of how critical to social and political order was the personality of the lord and the continuity of credible lordship.

That is also the message of the career of the second great aristocrat, Edmund Mortimer (d. 1381), earl of March (through the male line) and earl of Ulster (in respect of his marriage), under consideration here. Whereas Richard Burgh had lived to a ripe old age (by medieval standards), Earl Edmund was dead by the age of 29. Yet in his short life Edmund demonstrated the interplay of ‘private’ wealth and ‘public’ service (albeit that the current ‘private’/‘public’ dichotomy has limited applicability in a medieval context) in aristocratic society. By the mid 1370s Earl Edmund was possibly the third- or fourth-richest earl in terms of territorial wealth in the British Isles—outstripped only by the Black Prince, John of Gaunt, and possibly the earl of Arundel. Though his mother (who was to outlive him) retained one-third of the Mortimer lands, he still lorded it over a huge complex of estates in the March of Wales, the English border shires, several counties in southern England, and the lordships of Trim and Meath in Ireland. This inheritance was hugely augmented when he acquired in 1368—9 through his wife, Philippa (one of the ultimate heiresses of Earl Richard Burgh and only child of Lionel, duke of Clarence), vast estates in England and Ireland—including the great honour of Clare in East Anglia, manors throughout almost all the counties of southern England, and the lordships of Ulster and Connacht in Ireland.64 Earl Edmund doubtless took an interest in the governance and future of these estates, as is suggested by the record of the oral instructions he gave to his chief steward, Sir Peter de la Mare, and the detailed arrangements he made with trustees regarding the estates in 1374.65 Much of the detailed running of the estates was of course left to his council, his strong team of major officers and his talented bevy of legal advisers.66 The remarkable dossier of documents which survives from the minority of his son shows how minute and effective such supervision could be. Even so, the lord no doubt had the last word and the whole administrative and financial machine was geared to provide him with the wherewithal to display his lordship in the ‘public’ sphere.

63 The alarmist letter of Thomas Chedworth is published in Documents on the Affairs of Ireland before the King's Council, ed. G. O. Sayles (Dublin, 1979), no. 155 and re-dated in Frame, English Lordship, 35—6.

64 For lists of his estates see Holmes, Estates, 10—18. The account of his receiver general for 1375 in BL Egerton Roll 8727 gives a conspectus of the English estates in his actual possession at that date.

65 Cited above n. 47; Holmes, Estates, 51; Davies, Lordship and Society, 41, n. 25.

66 Their names can be assembled from BL Egerton Roll 8727.

After all, a great and rich aristocrat was expected to play a leading role on the national stage, unless he was debarred from doing so by illness or some personal inadequacy. Earl Edmund played his role to the full in the few short years given to him. He led a military expedition to Brittany in 1375, raising troops for the purpose from his Welsh estates. His diplomatic skills were honed in embassies to France and in negotiating with the Scots. His greatest military triumphs came in Ireland where he served as royal lieutenant from October 1379 and where he met his death. At last the vacuum of lordship which had so catastrophically followed the death of Earl Richard de Burgh’s grandson in 1333 was now filled by an active, resident lord. It is no surprise that the Wigmore chronicler (in effect the family annalist) waxed ecstatic about his achievements; but other chronicles in Ireland and England confirm that he ‘brought almost all that land to peace and governed it very nobly and wisely’.67 Even if we take such compliments with a pinch of salt, they remain as a reminder how crucial vigorous personal lordship could be, not least in Ireland.

Nor did Earl Edmund ignore—young as he was—the heavy responsibilities which came his way as a premier English earl and the son-in-law of the late duke of Clarence. He has been credited by historians as being, quite possibly, the moving spirit behind the political showdown of the Good Parliament in 1376, possibly operating in liaison with his steward, Sir Peter de la Mare, the Speaker of the Commons. He was clearly highly regarded by his contemporaries (impressed possibly both by his wealth and his vigour) as he was appointed a member of the council created to advise the young Richard II in 1377.

The short career of Earl Edmund reflects the very diverse range of activities which composed the life of the higher aristocracy, especially in England. He was head of a dynasty and a household; he ruled a vast landed inheritance stretching from East Anglia through the Welsh March and to the far west of Ireland; he hired a retinue of key administrators and judges to advise him; he was at the centre of a powerful network of friends (the bishops of London and Hereford and the earl of Northumberland were among his executors and retainers); he raised armies and led campaigns; he served on diplomatic missions; and he did not fight shy of the treacherous politics of the senility of Edward III and the minority of Richard II. There were few lessons in the exercise of lordship and leadership that Earl Edmund had escaped in his short life.

What sort of personal qualities did he have? The official documents and financial accounts (including a list of his creditors)68 do not help us greatly in this respect. We have to rely instead on his will and stray comments by contemporaries. His will shows him to be a devoted family man, making very generous provision

67 The encomium in the Wigmore family chronicle (at f. 57v. of the ms.; see above n. 32) is omitted in the printed edition in Dugdale’s Monasticon. For other tributes see ThomasWalsingham, Historia Anglicana, ed. H. T. Riley, 2 vols. (London, 1863—4), II, 49; Chartularies of St Mary's Abbey, Dublin, ed. J. T. Gilbert, 2 vols. (London, 1884—6), II, 285.

68 BL Egerton Charters 8751.

for his younger son and two daughters.69 The Wigmore chronicle had good reason to praise his devoutness, since he had been spectacularly generous to it in land and ecclesiastical gifts and had personally laid the foundation stone of the new church there. His piety is borne out by his will—in his insistence on a lack of ostentation at his funeral, his munificence to over thirty monasteries and friaries, and his pride in his collection of relics (including the bone of St Richard Wych (of Chichester) and the finger of St Thomas Cantilupe). He was an educational benefactor: Adam Usk, the chronicler, was one of his proteges. His achievements in Ireland in the last years of his life won unstinting praise from all quarters. All of this was fairly conventional; but the exceptionally warm tribute paid to him by the normally restrained Monk of Westminster in his chronicle suggests that he did indeed stand out for his personal qualities: ‘He was a man of accomplished manner and easy address, loyal to his kingdom and sustained in his conduct of affairs by outstanding wisdom [summa prudencia].’70 In short a lord sans pareil.

The reputation of our third great aristocrat, Archibald third earl of Douglas (d. 1400) was rather different as his various soubriquets—‘the Terrible’, ‘the Grim’, ‘the Black’—suggest.71 He belonged to a family which had risen with astonishing speed to the very top ranks of the Scottish nobility and as such presents the remarkable transformation of the higher Scottish aristocracy in the fourteenth century. The founder of the family’s fortune was Archibald’s father, Sir James Douglas (d. 1330), Robert Bruce’s companion and the hero of John Barbour’s epic poem The Bruce, written c.1375. But, as in the histories of all great families, each new lord had to put the stamp of his own talent on the family’s fortunes if its momentum of success was to be sustained. It was all the more necessary for Archibald to do so because he was born with the taint of illegitimacy. Two paths in particular suggested themselves as fast-track routes to success (as in all aristocratic societies). The first was service to the king and the rich rewards it could reap. Archibald secured several such rewards but the most crucial and easily the most substantial was the grant of Galloway 1369—72. He now had an independent regional power base and took the title ‘lord of Galloway’. He could not control or foresee the second route to success—the death of the senior Douglas line without a direct male heir of the body. But that is precisely what happened, totally unexpectedly, in 1388, when James, the second earl of Douglas, was killed in battle. Archibald now claimed to be the heir to the Douglas earldom and estates (on the basis of an entail made in 1342) and used his political clout to ensure that he succeeded. Exploiting all opportunities to the full and doing so ruthlessly was a necessary ingredient of successful lordship.

69 His will is published in Nichols, Wills, 104—17.

70 The Westminster Chronicle 1381—1394, ed. L. C. Hector and B. F. Harvey (Oxford, 1982), 23.

71 Brown, Black Douglases, passim. See also A. Grant, ‘Acts of Lordship: The Records of Archibald, Fourth Earl of Douglas’, in Freedom and Authority: Historical and Historiographical Essays Presented to Grant G. Simpson, ed. T. Brotherstone and D. Ditchburn (East Linton, 2000), 235—74.

The relative poverty of late medieval Scottish documentation does not allow us to characterize the nature of Archibald the Grim’s lordship in any detail. We have none of the detailed financial accounts so common in England, though we can extrapolate in some measure from the sole surviving rental of another branch of the Douglas family (that of Dalkeith) for 1376—7.72 What we do know is that by 1400 the Douglas estates were the largest territorial agglomeration in Scotland south of the Forth.73 On many of those estates Earl Archibald exercised a range of powers—through the grants of regalities by the Scottish kings—such as virtually no great aristocrat in England could contemplate. In Galloway in particular he was not merely landlord and tribute-collector; he was to all intents and purposes regional governor. It is little wonder that Richard II of England in 1393 opened negotiations with him directly and spoke of his ‘lands, lordships and subjects’.74 He enjoyed what contemporaries called ‘the leadership of all the men of his lands’. English lords occasionally referred to their estates as their ‘country’, but rarely, except possibly in the far north, did lordship have as untrammelled a remit as it did in the great regional lordship of western and northern Scotland.

The ultimate basis and justification of such ample lordship was its capacity to provide military leadership and protection. This was the source of Archibald Douglas’s remarkable power, as it was his explanation of the epithets which were attached to his name. Like Earl Richard of Ulster, he operated in a land of war. He was warden of the west march of Scotland for over thirty years; border raids were his speciality; and he moved around his region with a large military following and coordinated the military activities of local lairds and their retinues. In short he was a warlord. The great castle he built at Threave on an island on the Dee, with its seventy-foot high tower, proclaimed to all and sundry, and most immediately the men of Galloway, that might, military might, lay at the heart of lordship.

Lords saw themselves—and indeed justified their power—as a warrior caste, the bellatores. Archibald the Grim met that criterion handsomely. ‘In worldly prudence, courage and boldness’, said Walter Bower of him, ‘he excelled the other Scots of his day.’75 Archibald operated in a Scottish context and the nature of his lordship and leadership was grounded in that context. Lordship always takes on the colour of the social and geographical landscape in which it operates. But Archibald the Grim—like Richard Burgh and Edmund Mortimer—belonged to a wider, aristocratic, chivalric world and was proud of it. He had fought at Poitiers; he had gone on diplomatic missions to France and a pilgrimage to St Denys; he knew the world of knightings and joustings as well as that of border raids; Jean Froissart himself may well have met him when he stayed with his cousin, the first earl of Douglas, at Dalkeith in the 1360s. His son was granted the title Duke of Touraine, Lieutenant-General of France.

72 Mort. Reg., I, pp. xlvii et seq.

73 There is a helpful map of his landed interests in Brown, Black Douglases, 96—77

74 Quoted ibid., 87.

75 Quoted in Nicholson, Scotland, 220.)

Richard Burgh, Edmund Mortimer, Archibald Douglas were but three (chosen more or less at random) of the great lords of the British Isles in the fourteenth century. Despite the differences in their circumstances, they were members of a common aristocratic world. They shared, metaphorically and probably literally, its language; they moved in the same social circles and partook, broadly, of the same sets of values, anxieties, and ambitions; they cultivated the memories of their families in much the same way; they saw themselves as members of a warrior elite and most of them tried to play their part as such. Above all, from our point of view, they were all lords and exercised, and believed that they had the right to exercise, lordship. It is the many and very varied ways in which lordship was displayed and exercised which is the theme of the following chapters.

ADDITIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

For the English nobility, J. S. Bothwell, Falling from Grace: Reversal of Fortune and the English Nobility, 1075—1455 (Manchester, 2008). For Edward III’s establishment of new earldoms in 1337, J. S. Bothwell, Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility and Political Control in Fourteenth-Century England (Woodbridge, 2004) and more generally M. Prestwich, Plantagenet England, 1225—1360 (Oxford, 2005), ch. 13. For the situation in Scotland, A. D. M. Bar- rell, Medieval Scotland (Cambridge, 2000), ch. 7; M. Penman, David II, 1329—71 (East Linton, 2004).

For the end of pan-British landholding, B. Hartland, ‘Vancouleurs, Ludlow and Trim: The Role of Ireland in the Career of Geoffrey de Geneville (c.1226—1314)’, IHS, 32 (2001); B. Hartland, ‘Reasons for Leaving: The Effects of Conflict on English Landholding in Late Thirteenth-Century Leinster’, Journal of Medieval History, 32 (2006); M. Morris, The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century (Woodbridge, 2005), chs. 4 and 5; R. M. Blakely, The Brus Family in England and Scotland, 1100—1295 (Woodbridge, 2005), ch. 5; A. J. Macdonald, ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier? The Earls of Dunbar or March, c.1070 — 1435’, in The Exercise of Power in Medieval Scotland, c.1200—1500, ed. S. Boardman and A. Ross (Dublin, 2003).

For heraldry in Scotland, B. McAndrew, Scotland’s Historic Heraldry (Wood- bridge, 2006). For the role of noblewomen in propagating aristocratic identity, L. L. Gee, Women, Art and Patronage from Henry III to Edward III, 1216—1377 (Woodbridge, 2002). For the Hastings family and its monuments, P. Lord, The Visual Culture of Wales: Medieval Vision (Cardiff, 2003), ch. 2, and for the Des- pensers and Tewksbury abbey, M. Lawrence, ‘Secular Patronage and Religious Devotion: The Despensers and St Mary’s Abbey, Tewksbury’, in Fourteenth Century England V, ed. N. Saul (Woodbridge, 2008). For the Wigmore abbey chronicle, C. Given-Wilson, ‘Chronicles of the Mortimer Family, c.1250 —1450’, in Family and Dynasty in Late Medieval England, ed. R. Eales and S. Tyas (Doning- ton, 2003), and for English family chronicles more generally, C. Given-Wilson, Chronicles: The Writing of History in Medieval England (London, 2004), ch. 4. For continued aristocratic patronage of monasteries, K. Stober, Late Medieval Monasteries and their Patrons: England and Wales, c.1300—1540 (Woodbridge, 2007), and for the nobility and the church in general, R. Marks, Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England (Stroud, 2004). For the Buke of the Howlat, N. Royan, ‘ ‘‘Mark your Meroure be Me’’: Richard Holland’s Buke of the Howlat ’, in A Companion to Medieval Scottish Poetry, ed. P. Bawcutt and J. Hadley Williams (Woodbridge, 2006).

For the keeping of records by the aristocracy see Catalogue of Medieval Muniments at Berkeley Castle, ed. B. Wells-Furby. Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society vols. 17 and 18 (Bristol, 2004); N. Ramsay, ‘Archive Books’, in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. Volume II, 1100—1400, ed. N. Morgan and R. Thomson (Cambridge, 2008). For the phenomenon in Gaelic Scotland, S. Boardman, ‘The Campbells and Charter Lordship in Medieval Argyll', in The Exercise of Power in Medieval Scotland, c.1200—1500, ed. S. Boardman and A. Ross (Dublin, 2003). For Brittany, M. Jones, ‘Memory, Invention and the Breton State: The First Inventory of the Ducal Archives (1395) and the Beginnings of Montfort Historiography’, Journal of Medieval History, 33 (2007).

For Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, R. Frame, ‘Historians, Aristocrats and Plantagenet Ireland, 1200—1360’, in War, Government and Aristocracy in the British Isles c.1150—1500: Essays in Honour of Michael Prestwich, ed. C. Given- Wilson, A. Kettle, and L. Scales (Woodbridge, 2008). For Edmund Mortimer, A. Dunn, ‘Richard II and the Mortimer Inheritance', in Fourteenth Century England II, ed. C. Given-Wilson (Woodbridge, 2002). For the earls of Arundel, M. Burtscher, The Fitzalans: Earls of Arundel and Surrey, Lords of the Welsh Marches (1267—1415) (Logaston, 2008). For contemporary criticism of lordship in Ireland, B. Smith, Colonisation and Conquest in Medieval Ireland: The English in Louth, 1170—1330 (Cambridge, 1999), ch. 6.

APPENDIX

The Comital and Ducal Families of England, Scotland, and Ireland

These tables have the very limited purpose of indicating the survival, extinction in the direct male line of the body, succession through females or by males not of the direct line of the body, and the recruitment of members of the royal family among the ranks of comital and ducal families in England, Scotland, and English Ireland 1280—1420. Multiple comital and/or ducal titles held by individuals are also indicated wherever possible. The following caveats in particular need to be borne in mind:

1. The choice of twenty-year intervals is arbitrary and can conceal important changes between those intervals.

2. Minorities, widowhoods, and succession through females are often not fully or adequately represented in the tables.

3. For reasons of space, shorthand entries (e.g. Bohun, Stewart, Fitz Gerald) may well conceal several different members of the same family over several generations.

4. Several complex or contested successions (especially for Scottish earldoms) have had to be simplified or overlooked. Others are uncertain. Full details and corrections are available in The Complete Peerage and other standard works of reference.

The following abbreviations are used:

Numbers in brackets after a name indicate multiple titles held by individuals, e.g. sub England, Bohun (12,15) = the earls of Hereford also held the title of earl of Essex

• Date (where known) of the ‘extinction’ of a family in the direct, male line of the body (or by resignation of the current title-holder)

✝ Succession through collateral male relative of title-holder, e.g. brother, nephew, uncle

* Succession through female

® First-generation member of royal family

Table 1. England

Comital/Ducal Title

1280

1300

1320

1340

1. Arundel

 

Fitzalan

Fitzalan

Fitzalan

2. Aumale

3. Bedford

4. Buckingham

5. Cambridge

Wm of Juliers

6. Chester

(king)

(king)

® Edward s. of Edward II

® Ed. Black Prince (8)

7. Clarence

8. Cornwall

Edmund of Cornwall

Edmund of Cornwall

® Black Prince (6)

9. Derby

Henry of Lancaster

(19,20-22)

10. Devon

Courtenay

11. Dorset

12. Essex

13. Exeter

Bohun (15)

Bohun (15)

Bohun (15)

Bohun (15) tl361

1360

1380

1400

1420

Fitzalan

Fitzalan (35)

Fitzalan

_

® Thomas of Lancaster (7)

® John, d. of (29)

® Thomas of

 

Wm of Juliers

Woodstock

(14,11)

® Edmund of

Edward of

 

® Black

Langley (39) (king)

York •1415 ® Henry of

(king)

Prince (8) ® Lionel

 

Monmouth

(8)

Thomas of

• 1368 ® Black

(king)

® Henry of

Lancaster (2) (king)

Prince (6) Henry of

Henry

Monmouth

(6)

 

Lancaster • 1361 (19,20-22) Courtenay

Bolingbroke

Courtenay

Courtenay

Courtenay

     

Beaufort • 1420

Beaufort

14. Gloucester

Clare (16)

* [Montherner]

*Audley

• 1347

15. Hereford

Bohun (12)

Bohun (12)

Bohun (12) • 1336

f Bohun (12)

16. Hertford

Clare (14)

* [Monthermer]

17. Huntingdon

Clinton

• 1354

18. Kent

     

John of Woodstock

• 1352

19. Lancaster

® Edmund Crouchback

(20)

Thomas of Lancaster (20)

Thomas of Lancaster

(20,21)

f Henry of Lancaster

(20,21)

20. Leicester

Edmund (19)

Thomas (19)

Thomas

(19,21)

Henry (19)

21. Lincoln

Lacy

Lacy *1311

Thos. of Lancaster (19,20)

22. March

(custody)

23. Norfolk

Bigod

Bigod *1306

® Thos. of Brotherton • 1334

* Margaret his daughter

24. Northampton

Bohun jr

 

25. Northumberland

   
 

26. Nottingham

 

27. Oxford

Vere

Vere

Vere

tVere

® Humphrey, duke (28)

Bohun (12) • 1361

Holland

Holland

* Holland

* Black Prince

Holland

Holland

Henry of Grosmont

(20,21) *1361

® *John of Gaunt

(9,20,21)

Henry *1361 (19,21)

® *John of Gaunt (9,19 21)

   

Henry of Grosmont

(19,20) *1361

*John of Gaunt

(9,19,20)

   

Mortimer

Mortimer

(minority)

Mortimer

• 1425

* Margaret

* Margaret

• 1399

* Mowbray

• 1405 (26)

 

Bohun jr

• 1360

Percy

Percy

Percy

Mowbray

• 1383

Mowbray (26)

Mowbray (26)

Vere

Vere

f Vere

Vere

                             

Table 1. continued

Comital/Ducal Title

1280

1300

1320

1340

1360

1380

1400

1420

28. Pembroke

?Valence

?Valence

Valence

✝ Hastings

Hastings

Hastings

Humphrey d.

     

• 1324

   

•1387

 

of Gloucester

(14)

29. Richmond

John of

John of

John of

✝ John of

John of Gaunt

J. de Montfort

® John duke

 

Brittany

Brittany

Brittany

Brittany

 

•1399

 

of Bedford

     

• 1334

•1334

     

(29)

30. Rutland

Edward of York •1415

31. Salisbury

Montague

Montague

Montague

✝ Montague

Montague

           

•1397

 

• 1428

32. Somerset

Beaufort

()

33. Stafford

Stafford

Stafford

✝ Stafford

Stafford

34. Suffolk

Ufford

Ufford

Ufford •1382

de la Pole

✝ de la Pole

35. Surrey

Warenne

Warenne

Warenne

Warenne

*Fitzalan (1)

Holland

       

•1347

   

Fitzalan (1) •1415

 

36. Warwick

Beauchamp

Beauchamp

(Beauchamp)

Beauchamp

Beauchamp

Beauchamp

Beauchamp

Beauchamp

37. Westmore-

Neville

Neville

land

               

38. Worcester

Percy jnr

• 1403

39. York

           

® Edmund of Langley (5)

 

Comital/Ducal Title

1280

1300

1320

1340

1360

1380

1400

1420

1. Albany

® Stewart (4,10,14)

® Stewart (10,14)

2. Angus

Umfraville

Umfraville

(Umfraville)

(Umfraville)

Stewart

(Umfraville)

Stewart

(Umfraville)

• 1403

* Margare✝ Stewart

* Douglas

Douglas

3. Atholl

Strathbogie

(Strathbogie)

(Strathbogie)

Douglas

(Strathbogie)

•1369

®Stewart 6, 18 • 1402

®Stewart

4. Buchan

Comyn

Comyn • 1308

* (Beaumont)

® Stewart

Stewart (17) • 1424

5. Caithness

Magnus

• 1284

tJohn

Magnus

® Stewart

(19) •

*Euphemia

Stewart

® Stewart

6. Carrick

Bruce

Bruce

® Stewart

Stewart (3,18) •1402

7. Crawford

Crawford

Crawford

8. Douglas

Douglas

Douglas • 1388 tDouglas

Douglas

9. Dunbar

Dunbar

Dunbar

?

?

Dunbar

•1368

✝ Dunbar

Dunbar

Dunbar

10. Fife

Duncan

?

Duncan

Duncan

* ?Isabella

® Stewart

(1,14)

Stewart

Stewart

11. Lennox

Malcolm

Malcolm

Malcolm

?

Donald

* Margaret

* Duncan

Duncan

12. Mar

13. March

William See Dunbar

Donald

Donald

Thomas

(* Douglas)

* (Isabel)

* Stewart

14. Menteith

 

^Alexander

tMurdoch

(*Mary?)

(* Margaret)

® Stewart

(U4)

Stewart

Stewart

                         

Table 2. continued

Comital/Ducal Title

1280

1300

1320

1340

1360

1380

1400

1420

15. Moray

16. Orkney

Held jointly with Caithness until c.1350

 

Randolph

✝ Randolph

• 1346

* Dunbar •1368

✝ Dunbar * Sinclair

Dunbar

Sinclair

Dunbar Sinclair •1424

17. Ross

William

William

William

William

• 1372

(* Euphemia)

* Leslie • 1402

Stewart • 1424

18. Rothesay

Stewart (3,6) •1402

19. Strathearn

Malise

Malise

Malise

( )

Stewart

® Stewart (5)

(* Euphemia Stewart)

* Graham

20. Sutherland

William

William

William

f William

William

21. Wigtown

Fleming

Douglas

Table 3. English Ireland

Comital Title

1280

1300

1320

1340

1360

1380

1400

1420

1. Desmond (created

     

Fitz Gerald

()

✝ Fitz Gerald

Fitz Gerald

Fitz Gerald

1329)

2. Kildare (created

Fitz Gerald

()

✝ Fitz Gerald

Fitz Gerald

Fitz Gerald

Fitz Gerald •1432

1316)

3. Louth (created 1319)

Bermingham

• 1329

4. Ormond (created

()

Butler

Butler

Butler

Butler

1328)

5. Ulster (created 1205)

de Burgh

de Burgh

de Burgh

(* Elizabeth)

® * Lionel of Clarence

* Mortimer

(Mortimer)

Mortimer •1425

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