The Sinews of Aristocratic Power

By the time we reach the chronological focus of this study (1272—1422) many of the powers of lordship—like those of kingship—had been regularized and routinized. As contractual relationships were increasingly defined in writing, so the loose uncoordinated powers of an earlier period were replaced by a much more closely defined range of powers. Furthermore the richness of seigniorial documentation from c.1250 now allows us to see lordship in action routinely and regularly. The aim of the present chapter is to try to capture, in very broad terms, the scope and penetration of lordship as reflected in that documentation. Two preliminary observations should be made. First, lordship was hugely variable in its range and impact. It operated within the geographical, economic, and social context in which it found itself. In much of lowland British Isles—including parts of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland—it functioned at a small-scale and often intensive manorial level; at the other end of the scale in many parts of upland Britain it was little more than a loose, occasional superioritas. Thus in the lordship of Glamorgan the contrast between the intensive lordship of the lowland manors (both those held directly by the lord, such as Roath, and those subinfeudated to his followers, such as Sully) and the loose tributary, lordship claimed over the patriae (as they were significantly termed) or commotes of the upland was sharp.1 It is a contrast which can be replicated in almost every part of the British Isles.2 Part of our intention is to try to encompass this whole range of lordship within our analysis.

The second prefatory comment relates to the term lordship. All those who exercised a measure of control over others practised lordship. They called themselves ‘lords’ and often added the term as a status designation to their names. The lord of Sully was in that sense as much a lord as Gilbert de Clare, his overlord, earl of Gloucester and lord of Glamorgan. As such there was a

1 See Glamorgan County History, HI: The Middle Ages, ed. T. B. Pugh (Cardiff, 1971), esp. ch. 1; J. B. Smith, ‘The Lordship of Glamorgan’, Morgannwg, 9 (1965), 9—38; Davies, Lordship and Society, 86—89.

2 The studies ofAdrian Empey of the nature ofEnglish lordship in lowland Ireland are particularly illuminating in this respect. See esp. ‘The Norman Period, 1185 — 1500’, in Tipperary: History and Society, ed. W. Nolan (Dublin, 1985) and ‘Conquest and Settlement: Patterns of Anglo-Norman Settlement in North Munster and South Leinster’, Irish Economic and Social History, 13 (1986), 5—31.Foranexcellentshort introduction, R. Frame, Colonial Ireland, H69—1369 (Dublin, 1981), esp. 79—83.

continuum in the nature of lordship from that of the single-manor squire to that of one of the great magnates of the land. But it is with aristocratic lordship, rather than lordship tout court, that this book is concerned. It is partly a matter of scale, of course: Edmund, earl of Lancaster (d. 1296), was lord of 632 separate units of property and of 49 demesne manors.3 He would not have been personally or directly involved in the exercise of lordship at the local level in these units. He operated on an altogether grander scale of power and lordship, even if ultimately his ability to do so was grounded in the control that his agents exercised over the local units of lordship. It is also—as we have frequently insisted—partly a matter of documentation. Whatever its deficiencies, the range and variety of available documentation from c.1250 allows us to glimpse the scale and multifaceted character of aristocratic lordship in a way which is not possible for earlier periods or lesser lords. Finally, whatever the common features of all lordship, aristocratic lordship was in a league of its own in the powers that it could aggregate, in the role that it could and did play at national, regional, and county level, and in its capacity to shape the dynamics of power in medieval society. It may be a pardonable exaggeration to claim that ‘the great magnates ruled the England of their day’; but their role as a group needs to be analysed in all its complexity and range.4

Aristocratic power in late medieval society was normally measured in terms of landed wealth and income and in the range of powers that lords exercised over those who lived on the land. But in an overview of lordship in the British Isles in the medieval period, it is not with land that our analysis should begin. Rather should it attend first to the tributes, renders, and dues which were, or had been, payable to lords in respect of their control and authority over their men.5 At the taproot of lordship lay rule over men rather than control of land; so it was also with royal lordship. If we are to look for the origins of seigniorial power in European society we will find them not in the ownership of land but in charismatic and military leadership, in village or kin chieftainship, and in the protection that the powerful (potentes) could extend to the unprotected (pauperes). Likewise if we are to trace the history of what dependants owed to lords we will find them not in rents or leases but in hospitality dues and renders. It is true that over time many of these dues became territorialized and the landed aspect of the powers of lordship came increasingly to the fore. But in any rounded discussion of late medieval lordship in Britain we cannot afford to overlook the elements of its prehistory which had shaped its character.

This is so for at least two reasons. First, late medieval lordship was always more, much more, than land-lordship. The danger of modern historiography has

3 W. E. Rhodes, ‘Edmund, Earl of Lancaster’, EHR, 10 (1895), 19—40, 209—37.

4 Holmes, Estates, 1.

5 For a recent seminal discussion of these issues see Faith, English Peasantry.

been to reduce it to the latter and to measure its impact and range in financial and territorial terms. In fact lordship remained the lordship of men (however much some of its powers had been appropriated by royal and state authorities). It was the power of command, jurisdiction, control; it involved the leadership of men at all social levels; it exercised rights of discipline, grace, protection, and favour which have been appropriated by state authorities and declared to be ‘public’ rights in modern society. These powers were grounded in the history of lordship as an ancient institution; they still coloured its character—albeit more anaemically at least in southern and midland England—in the later Middle Ages. It is the range of these powers which we will attempt to capture in the subsequent discussion.

The second reason for opening the discussion with what we may term by way of shorthand ‘tributary lordship’ is that the evidence for such lordship even in fourteenth-century Britain is far more extensive than is normally acknowledged by historians. Historiographical discussion of central and late medieval lordship has drawn overwhelmingly on detailed English regional, county, and manorial studies. But if we cast our nets more widely geographically—to include much of upland northern England, most of inland Wales, the west and Highlands of Scotland, and most even of English Ireland outside the islands of manorial lordship—we encounter a very different image of the contours and character of lordship. Bringing these areas into the field of discussion is not merely a matter of rectifying the balance geographically within the British Isles; it also, crucially, allows us to chart some of the critical developments in the evolution of lordship over the centuries. In other words, history and geography connive to encourage us to take a broad view of the character of lordship in the British Isles in the medieval period.

What then were the features of ‘tributary lordship’ and what traces did it leave in the late medieval evidence? Let us take the evidence of the detailed survey of the great lordship of Denbigh (valued at more than £1,000 per annum, that is, the notional value of a sizeable English earldom) compiled in 1334.6 It opens a window on to a seigniorial world which had long since vanished in much of lowland England and even Scotland but which reveals to us vividly the character of early lordship in much of the British Isles. What we find in essence is a massive purveyance network in which kings and lords—the distinction between the two is easily overdrawn—were sustained by renders from their dependants. Many of these renders were biennial or triennial communal grants of livestock, normally in cows (the common economic coin of a pastoral society). In this respect the commorth Calan Mai (the cattle subsidy of 1 May) of Wales corresponded closely to the cornage, horngeld, nontgeld, and other dues so common in the four northern counties of England and in north Lancashire, the cain which was to be found throughout Celtic Scotland and ‘was paid to the king (or lord) in virtue of

6 Survey of the Honour ofDenbigh, ed. P. Vinogradoff and F. Morgan (London, 1914).

his lordship’, or the collective levies of cattle which are such a feature of power relationships in Gaelic and English Ireland.7 Alongside these communal tributes were a host of other renders and dues which were also tributary, rather than landed, in character. Such were the hospitality rent, or conveth as it was known in Scotland and wayting in Lothian—the right of a lord, his officers, and his retinue to hospitality and lodging from his men and dependants. Such also were the food rents, often payable once or twice a year, collected from free and unfree dependants alike according to different formulae. All these are fully itemized in the Denbigh Survey of 1334 and in other comparable surveys. As Edmund Spenser was to observe of Ireland in the late sixteenth century, they constituted the right of the lords ‘to have a common spending on their tenants’.8

There were huge local variations in these tributary renders and by the later Middle Ages there was an air of the archaic about them where they survived. But they are assuredly significant in an understanding of the origins and scope of medieval lordship. They were communal and personal, not territorial, in character. They were collected from individuals, kin-groups, and communities rather than being rent on land. As a shrewd early Stuart observer of the Welsh borderlands noted, they were not ‘properely rent issueinge out of land but only a some of money annexed as a Royaltie to my Lordes person’.9 The comment has a three-fold significance for us. First, it draws no fundamental distinction between so-called royal and non-royal lordship; both were lordships, both were personal and, at one level, both were ‘royal’. Secondly, the observer’s astonishment registers his awareness that the perception and practice of lordship ran the whole gamut from the personal and tributary to the territorial. Thirdly, it is in the context of tributary lordship that we can best understand the range of judicial, disciplinary, protection, and command powers which still characterize late medieval lordship and distinguish it sharply from the mere territorial power of the rent-collecting landlord. The roots of medieval lordship lie deep in the folds of its past.

But equally there can be little doubt that over the passage of the centuries the powers of lordship became increasingly territorialized. It was in the control of land and income from estates and in the exploitation of those who lived on those estates that the powers of lordship were, literally and metaphorically, grounded. Land for the aristocracy was the source of wealth, power, and status. Nulle terre sans seigneur, no land without a lord, declared the contemporary tag; but it was a tag which also worked in reverse: no lord without land.

7 Keystudiesinclude J.E.A.Joliffe,‘NorthumbrianInstitutions’, EHR,41 (1926), 1—43;G. W. S. Barrow, ‘Northern English Society in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries’, Northern History, 4 (1969), 1 —28; Duncan, Scotland, quotation from p. 154; T. M. Charles-Edwards, Early Irish and Welsh Kinship (Oxford, 1993).

8 Edmund Spenser, A View of the Present State of Ireland, ed. W. L. Renwick (London, 1934), 141-2.

9 For echoes of this tag in Welsh legal lore see Davies, Lordship and Society, 134.

The twinning of land and lordship comes as no surprise. Landed wealth was the asset par excellence in medieval society; it was—for peasants and lords alike—the source of status as well as of income. The later medieval aristocracy was preeminently a landed aristocracy. Noble titles could not be conferred without an appropriate landed endowment, with 1000 marks’ worth of land being regarded as the minimum ‘competence’ for an earl. It was on their landed estates, in their parks and forests, and in their rural residences, as we have seen,10 that the higher nobility levied and displayed their apartness. Wealth acquired from war, trade, or other means was immediately invested in land, for landed wealth was the socially acceptable measure of status. ‘By the size of his patrimony’, as a contemporary observed, ‘you may assess his power (my italics).11 The descent of the patrimonial estates and the establishment of appropriate landed endowments for daughters, cadets, and dependants was—as we have seen—an abiding preoccupation of the aristocracy.12

Given the equation between land, lordship and power it was inevitable that the aristocracy took a keen interest in the land market. It was the most obvious way of enhancing their status and power, in other words their lordship. Of many of them could it have been said as of Thomas Berkeley (d. 1361) that he was ‘this great rich lord and landmonger’.13 Among such land-mongers we should include the immensely rich Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (d. 1376), who spent at least £4,000 on purchasing manors in Sussex in the period 1350—70; the highly successful war captain, William Bohun, earl of Northampton (d. 1360) who embarked on a systematic land-purchase policy in both Wales and Essex from his war winnings; the Beauchamps; and perhaps most spectacularly a series of northern families—including Percy, Neville, and Scrope—who transformed the configuration of landed power in northern England during the fourteenth century.14 There is no single chronological or strategic pattern to such examples of land purchase. They were dictated by individual circumstances and opportunities. Some aristocrats—such as Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln (d. 1311), or William Bohun of Northampton (d. 1360)—snapped up Cistercian lands as part of their investment in the wool trade; others, such as the earl of Arundel, bought aggressively—both in Sussex and Shropshire—in order to broaden the basis of their standing in their own ‘country’; others seized on an opportunity to purchase lands to build up an endowment for a second family, as did John of Gaunt for John Beaufort at the expense of the heirless earl of Salisbury. Whatever the compunction, all shared the conviction that investing in land was the surest

10 See above, pp. 82 — 93.

11 Vita Edwardi Secundi. The Life of Edward II by the so-called Monk of Malmesbury, ed. N. Denholm-Young (London, 1957), 29. [See now Vita Edwardi Secundi: The Life of Edward II, ed. W. R. Childs (Oxford, 2005), 51.]

12 See above, pp. 149—57.

13 Smyth, Lives of the Berkeleys,I, 331.

14 For brief introduction and references see Given-Wilson, English Nobility, 126 — 8, 132 — 5; Holmes, Estates,7—8, 113—14;McFarlane, Nobility, 195—6.

way of enhancing their status, power, and standing. They followed the market shrewdly and calculated their moves carefully. Even the great John of Gaunt moved with circumspection: when contemplating the purchase of land in Dorset in 1372 he ordered his steward to find out the value of the land, to identify any jointure or entailed interest in it, and in the meantime to be favourable and gracious to the owner.15

As the source of their wealth and status, the aristocracy had to exercise eternal vigilance in defending their title to their lands, especially recently acquired or inherited land. The accounts of the officers of the English aristocracy—Mortimer, Bohun, Stafford, Beauchamp, Lancaster among them—are eloquent and detailed on this score. Fees were paid to lawyers, attorneys, and justices; records (often dating back more than a century) were transcribed; local juries and supporters were ‘laboured’ and so were royal officials; food and drink were distributed and so were gifts; money was spent to buy off counter-claims; seigniorial councils met for days at a time to work out compromise settlements. The costs could be substantial, even for a man of John of Gaunt’s standing: on one occasion he spent £46 on four serjeants; attorneys in all the major royal courts and departments; clerks, ushers, and scribes and the preparation of writs.16 But these were the sorts of costs which could not be avoided. The aristocracy was recurrently haunted by two spectres in respect of its landed title: the first was the vagaries of royal policy and whim which could so easily undo a family, especially in periods of political turbulence; the other were the loopholes which clever lawyers could so easily exploit in a family’s titles. That is why for example the extraordinarily hard-headed business woman, Joan Beauchamp (d. 1435), lady of Abergavenny, left £500 in her will to her executors for the defence of her lands ‘in case they be challenged and impugned wrongfully’.17 For us the significance of these disbursements—recurrent as they are—is how central the acquisition and defence of its landed title was to the aristocracy. Its glory may have come from birth, noblesse, and military prowess; but its power was increasingly rooted in land and in the control of those who lived on it.

Title to land was, of course, only the first stage in lordship; the next question was how that land was to be exploited to the maximum advantage of the lord. Part of it, known to historians as bond-land or demesne, might be worked directly for the lord, exploiting the labour dues of tenants attached to the demesne. In earlier centuries demesne production had been a crucial source of food supply for the lord, his household, and his entourage. Indeed, as we saw above,18 on the estates of Elizabeth de Burgh (d. 1360) the produce of her manors—she was one of the most substantial demesne farmers of her generation—continued

15 Reg. JG, I, no. 1129.

16 Reg JG, II, no. 1245. For an illuminating list of the legal and associated costs of the duke of Clarence 1418—21 see Household Accounts, II, 648—50. See also N. Ramsay, ‘Retained Legal Counsel, c.1275-c.1475’, TRHS, 5th ser., 35 (1985), 95-113.

17 Reg. Chichele, II, 534-8.

18 See above, pp. 107-8.

to make an important contribution to her household needs. But the glory days of high demesne farming were coming to a close in the fourteenth century: the mechanisms of the market undermined its appeal; so did the increasingly acute problems of the labour market and what John Smyth memorably referred to as ‘the soure and irksomenes of toile and hind servants’.19 Historians have established that on most seigniorial estates in England and Wales, arable demesne farming had gone into terminal decline c.1380—c.1420. It had become, in the words of John of Gaunt’s auditors, ‘a dead loss’ (grande perte).20 In fact, as we can see from the full accounts of Elizabeth de Burgh’s estates for the 1330s, arable demesne faming—what contemporaries called ‘profit de la garnerie’—had never constituted a major source of income on aristocratic estates.21 Even so, the demise of arable demesne exploitation was an important stage in the evolution of medieval lordship. The lord and his officials were no longer directly involved in the agricultural life of their estates, even of those few which were classified as demesne; that was bound to change the nature of his relationship with those who lived on his estates.

But the aristocracy had not opted out of direct exploitation of their estates altogether. Rather did they shift the focus of their attention from arable agriculture—with all its attendant problems of management, labour, supervision, and marketing—to large-scale, pastoral, agriculture. Here the management and marketing opportunities were much more favourable. The wool and cloth industries were remarkably profitable for most of the long fourteenth century; labour problems were at a minimum; the advantages of coordinated and integrated policies for the purchase and sale of livestock were self-evident. Lordship was shifting from the intricacies of small-scale manorial production of cereals, embedded as it was in local circumstances and restrictions, to the advantages of large-scale capitalist stock-farming on a national and even international scale. A few figures will indicate how the aristocracy had adjusted to the new opportunities and how in the process the nature of demesne lordship was changing. Sheep farming (and, to a lesser extent, cattle breeding) was big business for many aristocrats. Elizabeth de Burgh had almost 5,000 sheep on her estates in 1337; Thomas, earl of Lancaster, 5,500 sheep and lambs on his Peak estates; but neither could compete with the earl of Arundel who had almost 15,430 sheep on his Sussex lands alone in 1397.22 Furthermore these figures did not necessarily decline over the passage of time: John of Gaunt was still purchasing large flocks for his southern English manors in the 1390s and so was the

19 Smyth, Lives of the Berkeleys, II, 6.

20 The phrase is taken from the valor for 1394 — 5: TNA DL 29/728/11982. See also the auditors’ report for 1388 published in Holmes, Estates, 126—8.

21 See summary tables in Holmes, Estates, 143—57.

22 Holmes, Estates, 11; Ward, English Noblewomen, 118; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster, 29—30; Given-Wilson, ‘Wealth and Credit’, 19. For this whole topic see now B. M. S. Campbell, English Seigniorial Agriculture, 1250—1450 (Cambridge, 2000).

duke of York in 1411 — 12.23 The whole business was organized on capitalist lines and extricated from the control of local officials. The earl of Salisbury, for example, had ‘a surveyor of husbandry and livestock’; as had Isabella de Fortibus a century earlier.24 Marketing was likewise organized on metropolitan or international lines: the wool of the Mortimer, Bohun, and Fitzalan flocks was sent in bulk to major London merchants; so were the more than 6,000 fleeces of Elizabeth de Burgh from her Clare estates, and the 136 sacks of wool which Hugh Audley exported via the port of London.25 Such policies—which can certainly be paralleled from other English aristocratic estates—were by no means altogether new; but they do show clearly that aristocratic demesne farming was now fully adjusted to the demands of an international and national market and to the practices of capitalist agriculture. It was leaving behind it the world of manorial lordship, local arable production for household and associated needs, and the exploitation of the manorial and associated labour force. It is an important stage in the evolution of late medieval aristocratic lordship.

Important as was demesne exploitation, it was in reality but a relatively small component of the income and power that the aristocracy derived from its control of land. Rarely on lay estates did it exceed 20 per cent of the lord’s annual income; often it was far less. The major source of income was rent, broadly defined—including fixed rents (established by custom and normally non-negotiable), sale and commutation of labour services (now virtually a form of rent), and leases of, for example, individual parcels of land and mills (‘farms’ as they were generically known). This was already so on the estates of Edmund, earl of Cornwall (d. 1300), in the late thirteenth century or those of Elizabeth de Burgh in the 1330s, however enterprising she was in exploiting both the arable and pastoral resources of the manors.26 Even clearer is the outstanding evidence from the comprehensive list of the valors for the huge estates of John of Gaunt in the 1390s: they reveal that on average at least 80 per cent of the landed revenue of the duke of Lancaster came from rents and leases, broadly defined.27 Nor does the situation seem to have been very different in those parts of lowland Scotland for which some fragmentary scraps of evidence survive. The bulk of the income of the earl of Fife in 1294—5 came from fermes of tenants

23 Goodman, John of Gaunt, 337; BL Egerton Roll 8780.

24 Holmes, Estates, 65; Denholm-Young, Seigniorial Administration in England, 53—66.

25 Davies, Lordship and Society, 119 (and sources cited); Holmes, Estates, 90, n. 1; Reg. BP, I, 146.

26 Ministers’ Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall, 1296—7, ed. L. M. Midgley (Camden Soc., London, 1942—5); Holmes, Estates, 112. I have also drawn upon the exceptional valor of 1338—9: TNA SC 11/801. For comparable figures for the estates of Anne, countess of Stafford, in 1435—6 see Ward, English Noblewomen, 122 — 3 (rents and farms accounted for almost 90% of her revenue).

27 TNA DL 29/787/11975 — 87. For discussionsee Bean, ‘Landlords’, 569—71,andR. R. Davies, ‘Baronial Accounts, Incomes and Arrears in the Later Middle Ages’, Econ. HR, 2nd ser., 21 (1968), 211-29.

and likewise the rental of James Douglas of Dalkeith for 1376—7 reveals the predominance of rent.28 When we look more closely at the evidence we will find significant regional and local variations in the composition of seigniorial income; we will also find that there was perhaps more to ‘rent’ than meets the eye. Yet it is still difficult to dissent from George Holmes’s conclusion that on lay estates—great ecclesiastical and particularly monastic complexes may have been different—‘rent dominated the economy... at all times in the fourteenth century.’29 In that sense the aristocratic lords of England were now primarily land -lords in terms of their regular income and the source of their lordship and power. It was a far cry from the tributary lordship of earlier centuries and of the outlying parts of the British Isles.

Yet we would be mistaken to conclude that the role of the lord has been largely confined to that of a rent collector, whose impact on his estates was little more than that of revenue-raising. When we peer beneath the externalities of the financial accounts, we find that the exploitative and disciplinary powers of lordship continued to penetrate deeply into the lives of the communities of their estates. One area in which they notably did so was in what may be collectively classified as communal, non-arable resources—notably forest, woodland, pasture, waste, and fisheries. Throughout Europe the struggle over the control of these resources reverberated down the centuries, with an aggressive and predatory lordship pitched against conservative and defensive rural communities.30

There was much at stake for both parties. For the local communities these resources were not peripheral extras; they were central to the economic and ecological balance of their subsistence. Particularly was this so for the upland communities of the north and west of the British Isles. They relied on woodland and pasture for their fuel and building materials, for pannage for their pigs, for the fruits of the forest, for extra land to be taken into temporary cultivation, and for much else. It is no wonder that it was said of the area of Hopedale in north-east Wales that ‘the greater part of their sustenance is derived from the woods.’31 It was a comment which could have been echoed across much of the northern and western British Isles. It drew its force not only from arguments of economic necessity but also from deep-rooted communal convictions that these resources were indeed the God-given fruits of nature and rightfully belonged to the community as a whole. That is why access to forest, pasture, waste, and river figure prominently in tussles between lords and communities across Europe and were often codified in charters of liberties when the community had the whip hand; that is also why the first act of defiance of the community was to destroy the palisades and fences round the lord’s woods, to hunt in his forest, and in general to challenge his recently appropriated rights (as it saw it).

28 Duncan, Scotland, 426—7; Grant, Independence and Nationhood, 132.

29 Holmes, Estates, 112.

30 Bloch, French Rural History, 180 — 9.

31 Cal. Anc. Pets., no. 2598, p. 74.

But equally lords were determined to consolidate and extend their power over forest, pasture, and waste; and indeed there is no doubt that they did so successfully. They had many reasons for doing so. It was a growth point of their lordship. The vast majority of revenue from rents and services was fixed, customary and inflexible in character. Revenue from forest and pasture, on the other hand, was open to negotiation, often on an annual basis, so anxious was the community to have access to these resources. Furthermore, it was access which was carefully policed and enforced by the lord’s officer. At a time when manorial lordship and seigniorial demesne exploitation were, in many respects, in decline, control of these assets was an important manifestation of the continuing power of lordship. That is why keepers, foresters, parkers, and associated officials continue to figure prominently in late-medieval seigniorial accounts and court rolls. In the small Grey lordship of Ruthin (Dyffryn Clwyd) in the fourteenth century there were at least ten foresters and seven parkers in charge of eleven forests and twenty-seven acres of reserved woodland.32 Very similar examples could doubtless be cited elsewhere, especially for upland Britain. Even in the market-oriented economy of lowland England, control of access to forest, waste, and water remained among the touchstones of lordly power and community resentment into the late fourteenth century and beyond. We can see as much in the demands that the rebels made during the Great Revolt of 1381.33

Control of these assets was critical to seigniorial authority but it was also an important source of aristocratic revenue. Sale of wood and charcoal could be very significant items of income. Elizabeth de Burgh exploited the timber resources of her southern Welsh estates to maximum effect: they yielded almost 20 per cent of the income of the lordship of Usk in 1329—30.34 There was certainly big money in timber for great lords: the Black Prince, ever short of cash and always ruthless in laying his hands on it, sold all the wood (except the great oaks) in Peckforton Park (Cheshire) in 1354 to a consortium for £533.35 Ultimately more significant than once-off clearance sales such as this was the seigniorial campaign to defend and extend rights over forest and pasture at every turn. So it was, for example, that Earl Thomas of Lancaster (d. 1322) allegedly enclosed 800 acres of wood in Kenilworth ’par son seigneurie et son grant poiar’. So it was likewise, on a much more modest scale, that the auditors of the earl of Salisbury calculated that if he let 366 acres of woodland at a minimum of two pence an acre (rather than at a fixed farm of 6s. 8d.) he would increase his profit more

32 R. I. Jack, ‘Welsh and English in the Medieval Lordship of Ruthin’, Transactions of the Denbighshire Historical Society, 18 (1969), 23—49.

33 See for example the demands of the rebels at St Albans, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, ed. B. Dobson, 2nd edn. (London, 1983), 269—77.

34 TNA SC 11/799; Holmes, Estates, 107 n. 6, 143.

35 P. H. W. Booth, The Financial Administration of the Lordship and County of Chester, 1272—1377 (Chetham Society, Manchester, 1981), 131.

than eightfold.36 And increase forest and waste revenue often did, as seigniorial income from arable and associated sources fell: the farm of the Great Forest of Brecon, one of the largest tracts of upland in Wales, increased from £47 in 1340 to £110 in 1400.37 Nor does the story seem to have been different elsewhere: by the mid fifteenth century Ettrick Forest yielded rents of £520, outstripping the revenue of earldoms such as Mar or Strathearn.38 Individual examples do not necessarily form the sound basis for a general claim; but it is not difficult to see why historians have concluded that control of multure, forest, and turbary was an increasingly important aspect of lordship and one which may well have been underestimated.39 It was particularly important for aristocratic lordship, for it was great lords who (alongside the king) controlled the large tracts of forest and pasture and had the jurisdictional rights and officialdom to exploit them to the full.

Alongside forests, waste, and pasture we should certainly add other sources of seigniorial revenue and control, notably mills and fisheries. Continental historians have long since argued that some of the most momentous developments in the entrenchment and elaboration of seigneurie from the eleventh century onwards took the form of the extension of the powers of the ban, as they term it—that is, the claims of lords to economic and associated monopolies over the peasantry—such as the use of seigniorial mills, ovens, vine presses; the right to control brewing and baking, and the seigniorial tallage. These powers of the ban do not figure so prominently in the English evidence or the English historiography (partly because of the pre-eminence of royal power and royal documentation); on a broader British basis we may well underestimate their importance. Throughout Europe, the struggle over the control of milling rights—so crucial to a cereal-based economy—formed one of the most critical chapters in the history of the advance of lordship and of community resistance. Long accustomed to the use of hand-mills, querns, and their own mills, the local communities found themselves the target of seigniorial ambition. The lord alone often had the capital to buy the equipment and hire the expertise to build watermills; to this he added the crucial claims that his tenants were required to grind their corn at his mills (either for a fixed fee or for a proportion of the corn ground) and to repair the mill and transport the millstones. Manorial and other rolls show that these obligations were often zealously exacted, even when other aspects of the powers of lordship were in decline. Particularly, again, were they important in upland communities, where rent rolls were often skeletal but where mills stood as patent symbols of seigniorial authority and profiteering. Such, for example, is the clear evidence for the March of Wales; so likewise mills and

36 Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster, 32; Vinogradoff and Morgan (eds.), Survey of the Honour of Denbigh, 11 — 12.

37 Davies, Lordship and Society, 122 .

38 Brown, Black Douglases,166—7.

39 Duncan, Scotland, 351—60.

fisheries figure prominently in the revenue of the earls of Ulster, as do fisheries in Moray.40

If we are to understand the nature of medieval lordship, especially aristocratic lordship, aright, we need to bring these items within the purview of our analysis. But we must go further. Landlordship in medieval society was much more than a matter of rent collection; it often entailed close control over the sale, exchange, transmission, and disposal of peasant land and often over those who lived on that land. The roll call of opportunities for the lord to exercise his power, and increase his profits, in this respect were almost limitless, as close study of seigniorial court rolls quickly reveals. Land sales had to be registered in the lord’s court and due payment made; tenants had to swear oaths of fealty and pay entry fines; exchanges of land had to be sanctioned—for a price; appropriation from the waste or forest had to be licensed; when there was a total failure of heirs the lord claimed that the land reverted to him; and in upland districts, such as Wales, the lord’s title to ‘escheated land’ (that is, land to which he claimed that the title had lapsed) was vigorously and profitably pursued and even as vigorously resisted by the community. The story of this tightening seigniorial control of tenant land and the efforts that seigniorial officers, increasingly armed with written evidence and title, made to promote it is one of the key chapters in the history of lordship in the British Isles from the twelfth century onwards. It was still in full swing in the fourteenth century, as other aspects of seigniorial exploitation were faltering.

It was clearly at its most aggressive and effective where the tenants were unfree since there the scope for seigniorial control was proportionately the greater. What has struck historians time and time again was the remarkable tenacity, bordering on the vindictive, with which great lay and ecclesiastical lords defended and exploited their rights over serfs and their lands, even when the heart had gone out of demesne farming and an active manorial lordship, especially in the later fourteenth century. The Mortimers, for example, were ruthless in this respect: their council decreed in 1391 that bond tenements were not to be transferred to a freeman ‘so long as a serf of blood can be found’ and no male or female bond person was allowed to leave the manor of Odcombe (Somerset). It was a policy which was followed by many other lords.41 But ultimately more important than the spectacular sums occasionally raised from fugitive serfs is the evidence of the way, year in year out, that lords exploited their power over land and those who lived on it to the end of our period; and none more effectively than some of the great lay lords.

The power of lordship over land, so we have argued, did not necessarily lie solely or even primarily in demesne exploitation or rent collection. It often operated

40 Davis, Lordship and Society, 128—9 (and sources cited); Orpen, ‘Earldom of Ulster’.

41 Holmes, Estates, 128—9; see also for the policy of the Mowbrays, McFarlane, Nobility, 221. In general R. H. Hilton, The Decline of Serfdom in Medieval England (London, 1969) remains basic.

more aggressively, and made greater profits, by pressing its claims to forest, woodland, fisheries, waste, and pasture; by exploiting its economic monopolies, such as those over mills; and by maximizing its power over the lands and lives of its tenants. The instrument par excellence for this latter power was the lord’s court. Lordship and the dispensing of justice went hand in hand in medieval society, in a fashion which it is difficult for the modern mind to appreciate. In modern society justice is the preserve of the state and of ‘public’ authority; it has become detached from economic and social power. But in the medieval world it was quite otherwise. Those who claimed lordship expected to exercise powers of justice over those whom they controlled, and over their lands. The paradigm of all lordship was, after all, the lordship of God: His was a judicial lordship as He presided at the Last Judgment. Such was also the lordship of the king: he was the fountain, and lion, of justice; his crown existed, as the theorists put it, to do judgment and justice and to give peace.

What was true of God and the king was true also of lords in general, great and small—from the one-manor lord to the greatest duke or earl. ‘By common law’, as a lawyer put it in the early fourteenth century, ‘every free man ought to have a court for his tenants.’42 The right to hold a court was a sine qua non of lordship: when the bishop of Moray gave the lordship of certain lands and of the men who lived on them to the earl of Fife, he also gave the earl and his heirs the right to hold a ‘full court’ (plena curia).43 This was the point that Gilbert Hay made as a generalization and with admirable clarity: ‘A man is not a lord suppose he have never so much of worldly goods, but he is a lord that has seignory and jurisdiction over other men, to govern them, and hold law and justice upon them when they trespass.’44

As this quotation suggests, a court was much more than a judicial tribunal. Civil and criminal cases between the lord’s tenants and between the lord and his tenants certainly formed a good deal of the business of seigniorial courts; but they by no means represented the totality of their activity. Rather could the court be characterized as the forum where the lord brought his power of lordship to bear on his tenants and dependants and coerced them to accept and obey his authority across many aspects of their lives. The obligation to appear at the lord’s court—suit of court—was a minimum obligation on all those who accepted the lord’s authority. It was particularly important in upland and western Britain where other seigniorial powers—for example, over land—were relatively skeletal; but even in lowland, manorialized England, where royal justice was pervasive and royal records have been allowed to dominate the historical argument, the seigniorial courts were, in Rodney Hilton’s words, ‘a formidable element of control’.45

42 Quoted from Year Book 17 Edward II in Select Pleas in Manorial and Other Seigniorial Courts, I: Reigns of Henry HI and Edward I, ed. F. W. Maitland (Selden Society, London, 1889), xli.

43 Moray Reg., no. 16.

44 Quoted in J. L. Watts, Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship (Cambridge, 1996), 65, n. 270.

45 R. H. Hilton, A Medieval Society: The West Midlands at the end of the Thirteenth Century (London, 1967), 240.

There can be little doubt that the control exercised in and by seigniorial courts grew apace from the twelfth century, and is particularly evident when local court rolls survive in some numbers from the mid thirteenth century onwards. It was at this stage, so Ros Faith has argued, that the era of ‘truly seigniorialized justice’ arrived in England and that manorial justice became ‘the very lifeblood of the agrarian and economic system’.46 The articulation and exercise of the lord’s judicial power was a momentous chapter in the history of lordship. Much of that power had to do not with law and justice narrowly conceived but with disciplinary and coercive power over tenants and dependants—controlling their land transactions and titles, supervising and enforcing their tenurial and associated obligations, issuing ordinances and statutes, and so forth. It may well be that historians, especially historians of medieval England, have underestimated the pervasiveness and effectiveness of seigniorial justice in this respect. It is partly that in much of England the powers of ‘high’ criminal and even civil justice were reserved for the king and his courts; it is also undoubtedly the case that the richness of royal and associated court records has served to focus attention on the activities of the king and his officers and away from lords and their officials and courts.

Be that as it may, it is clear that there was a network of seigniorial courts— alongside royal, communal, and ecclesiastical courts—which brought the justice of lords to bear on the lives of their tenants and dependants in much of the British Isles. Some of them had no more than a modest manorial jurisdiction; but elsewhere, especially on the estates of the great magnates, extensive powers had been appropriated by, or confirmed to, local lords. These courts met on a regular, often three-weekly, basis, though some of the major investigative courts (such as the tourn) would only assemble twice yearly. In many respects they were the instruments par excellence of lordship. It has been calculated, for example, that in the lordship of Ruthin in north-east Wales 136 court sessions were held in the year 1322—3 alone.47 Some of them were no doubt merely formal sessions; in other cases there was much overlap and confusion of jurisdiction. But what cannot be doubted is the way that lordship, through its courts, shaped the lives of those who lived under its authority.

Lordship and justice went hand in hand at all levels of society; but what is of particular interest to us is the effectiveness and range of lordly justice at the levels of the higher aristocracy. Here again the perspective gained by bringing the whole of the British Isles within the purview of our analysis helps to redress the imbalance induced by concentrating on the southern and midland English evidence. It is true, of course, that the lords of the great palatinates of England (such as Chester and Lancaster) and of its extensive ecclesiastical liberties (such as Durham, Ely, Bury St Edmunds) claimed and exercised a range

46 Faith, English Peasantry, 116; Maitland (ed.), Select Please in Manorial Courts, lx.

47 Jack, ‘Welsh and English’, 27.

of jurisdictional powers which were a very far cry from the modest powers of manorial lords. But it is when we leave the much-governed and royally dominated world of England that we catch a glimpse of the full possibilities of the range of seigniorial jurisdiction. It is a world of power structures very different from the neatly reticulated and hierarchical pattern of royal and communal justice so characteristic of royal England.

Such is the world that we come across in the March of Wales, where each lordship was truly a sovereign jurisdictional unit, where the king’s writ was not served by his officers, and where (in a near contemporary phrase) the lords were ‘the soveraigne governors of their subjects’. English Ireland was in some respects different—not least because the constitutions of English law and administration had been consciously imported into the country and because the king of England had reserved to himself the four major pleas of the crown and jurisdiction in error. But in truth—whatever the veneer of institutional forms—much of the reality of governance and justice in English Ireland lay in the hands of local magnates, their followers, and officers. It could hardly be otherwise, particularly in the major liberties—Ulster, Trim, Kildare, Kilkenny, Wexford, Tipperary, and Thomond—which lay outside the area of shire ground and accounted for over half of the territorial extent of English Ireland.48

Turning to Scotland, it is the hybrid character of its power structures which has increasingly struck historians. English-type institutions—notably the shire, the justiciarship, and the formulae of English writs—took deep root in the country, especially in the south and the east. They have been understandably privileged by historians, partly because the future belonged to them and partly because royal documentation provided one of the few points of entry into the world of medieval Scottish justice. But in any overview of Scotland as a whole it is what have been called ‘regionalized power structures’ and the role of the aristocracy—and, crucially, the local community in its various forms—which have attracted attention. Indeed in some respects, with the definition of what were the rights of free baronies and the wide powers conferred in ‘regalities’, the aristocratic flavour of governance and justice in later medieval Scotland was further confirmed.49 It is little wonder that a recent historian of Scotland has concluded that ‘in localities under the rule of a great magnate’—and such localities were extensive in much of Wales, Ireland, and Scotland—‘aristocratic justice was the norm.’50 The significance of this claim stands even if we concede—as we surely must—that much, probably most, justice was dispensed in medieval society in and by the community through arbitration and extra-curially.

48 Frame, English Lordship, 12, 25.

49 For regalities and baronies see Duncan (ed.), Regesta Regum Scottorum, V, 39—43 and the excellent series of maps and discussions by Alexander Grant in McNeill and MacQueen (eds.), Atlas of Scottish History, 201—7.

50 M. Brown, The Wars of Scotland 1214—1371 (Edinburgh, 2004), 106; MacQueen, Common Law and Feudal Society, 50—54.

But what is perhaps of most interest for the present analysis is that the nonEnglish evidence allows us to glimpse a world in which great lords dominated the jurisdictional horizon. It was a world which had been overlaid in England by the institutions and mechanisms of royal government and by the common wash of a common law, common legal practices, and an increasingly professional legal cadre. Elsewhere in the British Isles we come across a seigniorial world much more redolent of the practices of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The central or honour courts of the great Welsh Marcher lordships—such as Glamorgan, Pembroke, Brecon, Gower—continued to meet as ‘feudal’ assemblies, presided over by the lord’s steward and attended by his vassals (fideles). Within these lordships their jurisdiction was complete and unchallenged in matters civil, territorial, and criminal.51 It is a world which is replicated in the honorial courts of the great Irish liberties such as Trim, Meath, Kildare, and Carlow.52 The situation was probably similar in much of aristocratic Scotland—as in his honorial courts which Earl David of Huntingdon (d. 1219) held in his lordship of Garioch or ‘the plenary court of the lord Maleis’, earl of Strathearn.53

That the court of Strathearn should be referred to by the name of its lord is a reminder to us that, however much the forms and practices of aristocratic justices had been formalized and institutionalized, the lord’s personality and power lay at its origin. The court after all was not only a judicial assembly; it was a forum in which the lord displayed his authority and through which he exercised his power. That is why it was often held in the most majestic and authoritative of venues. The court of the great Warenne/Fitzalan lordship of Bromfield and Yale in north-east Wales was held in the bailey of the castle of Holt. It was the least convenient venue in the lordship but the sheer scale of the castle which towered over it was a reminder of the power of lordship.54 These occasions were all the more impressive when the lord attended in person, either in his own right or as the representative of the keep. We hear graphically of Alexander Stewart (d. 1405), the Wolf of Badenoch as he was unflatteringly called, holding his court ‘at the standing stone of ‘‘Ester Kyngncy’’ in Badenoch’ and ‘sitting there as a lord among his vassals and subjects (vassallos et subditos) to give judgements (ad jura reddenda)’, or of the earl of Morton’s justiciar holding his court at the outer gate of the castle of Dalkeith.55

51 For details Davies, Lordship and Society, 156—7.

52 For example, Calendar of the Gormanston Register, c.1175—1397, ed. J. Mills and M. J. McEnery (Dublin, 1916), nos. 161, 169, 182; Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds II, no. 49, pp. 40—51. For a discussion of the liberty court of Tipperary, see Frame, English Lordship, 26—7.

53 Stringer, Earl David of Huntingdon, 103; Moray Reg., no. 14. For the history of the earldom of Strathearn see the various studies by Cynthia Neville, including ‘A Celtic Enclave in Norman Scotland: Earl Gilbert of Strathearn, 1171 — 1223’, in Freedom and Authority: Historical and Historiographical Essays Presented to Grant G. Simpson, ed. T. Brotherstone and D. Ditchburn (East Linton, 2000), 75-92.

54 Davies, Lordship and Society, 75, n. 33.

55 Moray Reg, no. 159 (1380); Mort. Reg., II, no. 229 (1476).

Nor are these examples simply Scottish exceptions. Few lords could resist the temptation to preside at their courts when they visited their lordships on tour. Henry Bolingbroke, recently promoted to be duke of Hereford, did so at Brecon on 6 November 1397; Reginald Grey did so on his frequent visits to Ruthin in north Wales. Even when he was not personally present, the lord’s wishes were a source of final, and often first, resort in quite minor judicial and quasi-judicial matters—issuing pardons, cancelling penalties, laying down procedures, and vehemently defending the honour of the court and its authority.56 And if the lord did not appear to sit at his court, he could reinforce the authority of his local judicial officials by sending members of his council on quasi-judicial visits to the localities and, in Wales and Cheshire, by holding sessions in eyre when local courts were suspended and the lord’s justices—much like the royal justices in eyre in England in the thirteenth century—exercised the most ample judicial powers in his name.57

The wider we cast our historical nets in the British Isles, the more impressive and multifaceted does the range of aristocratic jurisdictional power strike us. It was more far-reaching than the evidence for much of lowland England—where so many of the powers and profits of high justice had been reserved for the king—would suggest. This is reflected in the profits that aristocratic lords derived from judicial revenue. In much of lowland England it was rarely more than 10 per cent of seigniorial revenue: the court yields of Elizabeth de Burgh for her Dorset and East Anglian manors were, for example, paltry. But once we move outside this area the figures can be truly impressive. The Black Prince made huge judicial profits from his judicial powers in the palatinate of Chester; so did the dukes of Lancaster from the county of Lancaster, especially after they were granted palatinate powers there in 1351 (limited only by the royal prerogative of pardon and the crown’s right to correct errors of justice).58 In 1395-6, for example, the county courts, tourns, wapentakes, and various other officers of the county of Lancaster yielded £514—a very handsome annual income for a baron.59 But it is when we move into the March of Wales—we do not seem to have comparable figures for Scotland and Ireland60—that court yields become a truly impressive source of seigniorial revenue. There were, of course, local variations and in particular between the Welsh upland districts and the lowland manorialized regions, but in general terms court issues brought in between 25 and 30 per cent of the lord’s income. If to this we add the fines for ‘redeeming’

56 See examples quoted in Davies, Lordship and Society, 142-3. They could be readily paralleled from the English evidence: see, for example, Ault (ed.), Court Rolls of Abbey of Ramsey, 83, 94-5.

57 Pugh (ed.), Marcher Lordships of South Wales, 3-141; and for earlier evidence, Davies, Lordship and Society, 167-9.

58 Walker, Lancastrian Affinity, 142-4; Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster, I, 41-5.

59 TNA DL 29/728/11984 (valor of north parts of the Duchy of Lancaster estates).

60 Though we do know that the liberty court of Tipperary yielded £180 in three months in 1339: Frame, English Lordship, 26.

(that is, buying off) the visit of justices in eyre, the figure stood as high as 50 per cent or more.61 It made good the modest income from land and rents; it is also a reminder of the amplitude and significance of judicial lordship in the world of the aristocracy.

Nor was that lordship confined to regular meetings of seigniorial courts. The concept of justice and judicial authority was much more ample in medieval parlance and practice that it is in modern terminology. The distinctions between law, arbitration, administration, grace, and favour were blurred in a fashion which modern categories find puzzling. The open-ended character of royal justice—dispensing equity, grace, and mercy as well as operating along institutionalized curial lines—was replicated in aristocratic justice. Much of it—as has of late been fully appreciated by historians62—operated through arbitration, both between the magnate’s own retainers and in private cases. Such arbitration was an acknowledgement that it was the duty of great lords, such as John of Gaunt,63 as much as of the king to defuse social tensions and to do so extra-curially as well as in pursuit of their judicial power.

Indeed the world of aristocratic lordship—like that of royal lordship—operated through patronage, grace, and favour as well as through court procedures. We do not do justice to its character and range if we overlook this truism. The lord’s protection, support, and pardon regularly lubricated relationships and eased tensions. The lord himself, his major officials, and his council were in receipt of an endless flow of petitions and requests, oral and written.64 Sifting and assessing such requests was one of the most delicate acts of lordship, whether done in person or by proxy. If lordship was not to become an engine of oppression and not to cross the line into the extortionate, it was vital that this channel of dialogue be kept open and regularly used. No doubt lords acted arbitrarily and high-handedly from time to time; but when we have a substantial body of evidence of the petitionary process at work—as we have amply in the correspondence of John of Gaunt—what is generally impressive is the way that the duke of Lancaster insists on due process of investigation, proper inquiry, and respect for established custom. To take one case, when John Batter sent a bill of complaint to the duke, the duke’s steward was ordered to scrutinize the bill and the record and process to which it referred, to correct any errors if there should be such, and ‘do right as well for our profit and of the parts, according to the laws and customs of the region’.65

61 Fully documented in Davies, Lordship and Society, 179—94.

62 E. Powell, ‘Arbitration and the Law in England in the Later Middle Ages’, TRHS 5th ser. 33 (1983), 49—67; M. T. Clanchy, ‘Law and Love in the Middle Ages’, in Disputes and Settlements: Law and Human Relations in the West, ed. J. Bossy (Cambridge, 1983), 47—67; L. B. Smith, ‘Disputes and Settlements in Medieval Wales; The Role of Arbitration’, EHR, 106 (1991), 835—60.

63 For an example of Gaunt acting as arbitrator: Reg. JG, II, no. 1204.

64 For examples Reg. BP, I, 67, 73, 126—7; Holmes, Estates, 129.

65 Reg. JG, I, no. 1552.

What we have tried to capture in this chapter is some of the ways in which aristocratic lordship exercised its power over medieval society in the British Isles. There was, of course, no single such agenda: the character of lordship varied from region to region and period to period; its powers and effectiveness had to adjust to the social and economic contours of its various worlds. Lordship was founded on custom; it took the world as it found it—though this did not mean that it could not exploit and innovate (as we saw with forests, wastes, and mills). By and large the rationale of its authority was taken as given; it was part of the ‘natural order’ and ultimately divinely sanctioned. If there were doubts, it was about the exercise of lordship (and particularly the novelty of its claims), not about lordship itself. Beyond the abstractions of the schoolmen about dominium, there is no evidence that a defence or analysis of lordship was called for. Auditors could certainly submit insightful reports on the state of the lord’s finances and fascinating memoranda could be submitted to the lord’s council on improving the conduct of estate management;66 but it required the cataclysm of a social revolt, the Peasants’ Rising of 1381, to raise the fundamental questions about the justification and propriety of lordship and even to insist that there was no lordship other than that of the king.

The lordship which we have tried to bring into view in this broad-brush sketch is in many respects—as we insisted at the outset—a universal lordship. Royal lordship partook of it and shared many of its functions and powers. But royal lordship, especially in England and to a rather lesser extent in Scotland, had become increasingly distinctive in the public character of its claims and justification, in the way its authority penetrated into the interstices of local life and governance, and in the exclusiveness of its claim in crucial matters such as law, taxation, coinage, custom dues, and military service. We have insisted that if we take the British Isles as a whole as our historical agenda, the distinction between royal and aristocratic lordship has arguably been exaggerated, especially from an English perspective; but this is in no way to deny that a chasm now existed and that it was becoming more pronounced. At the other end of the spectrum of power, many of the features described above—tributes, rents, control of land and tenants, jurisdiction among them—would figure among the rights exercised by very modest manorial lords.

Where, therefore does such a vague formulation leave aristocratic lordship? Was it more than ‘ordinary’ lordship writ large and multiplied manifold by the breadth of its territorial base? In parts of Ireland and Wales it approximated (or could do so) more closely to royal lordship than we sometimes care to acknowledge. The lords of the Welsh March raised their own armies, launched their own ‘wars’, flaunted their own ‘law of the March’, and were exempt from the king’s fiscal demands. But in general—even in the palatinates of England,

66 For the former see, for example, Holmes, Estates, 126 — 8; for the latter the fascinating memorandum submitted to the Mortimer council in BL Egerton Roll 8718 (1395—7).

the great liberties of English Ireland, and the regalities of fifteenth-century Scotland—aristocratic lordship fell well short of such ambitions. Yet aristocratic lordship was more than the sum of the individual components of its parts. Even the sum was important: the sheer size of aristocratic inheritances, extended over several shires and even countries, set them apart, and so did the status of their lords. So did the stages—national and even international as well as local and regional—on which these lords moved. So did the scale of their income, the influence they wielded, and the deference they almost automatically commanded. As the author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi had put it, it was by the size of his patrimony that one could assess a great magnate’s power.67 It is the roots of that power that we have reviewed above; but lordship was manifested in the way it was exercised. That is the theme of the following chapters.


For tributary lordship in Ireland, K. Simms, ‘Guesting and Feasting in Gaelic Ireland’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 100 (1978—9). For the balance between tributary and land-lordship in the south-west ofthe country,

A. McCormack, The Earldom of Desmond, 1463—1583: The Decline and Crisis of a Feudal Lordship (Dublin, 2005). For the situation in Scotland, C. Neville, Native Lordship in Medieval Scotland: The Earldoms of Strathearn and Lennox, c.1140—1365 (Dublin, 2005), ch. 3; S. Boardman, The Campbells, 1250—1513 (Edinburgh, 2006), chs. 4 and 11.

For aristocratic interest in the land market, C. Dyer, ‘Seigniorial Profits on the Land Market in Late Medieval England’, in Le Marche de la Terre au Moyen Age, ed. L. Feller and C. Wickham (Rome, 2005). For the balance between arable and pastoral farming, and the significance of demesne farming in early fourteenth- century England, B. M. S. Campbell and K. Bartley, England on the Eve of the Black Death: An Atlas of Lay Lordship, Land and Wealth, 1300—49 (Manchester, 2006), and B. M. S. Campbell, ‘The Agrarian Problem in the Early Fourteenth Century’, Past and Present, 188 (2005). For the late Middle Ages more generally,

B. M. S. Campbell, ‘The Land’, in A Social History of England, 1200—1500, ed. R. Horrox and W. M. Ormrod (Cambridge, 2006). For the king as landlord, D. Crook, ‘King and Lord: The Monarch and his Demesne Tenants in Central Nottinghamshire, 1163—1363’, in English Government in the Thirteenth Century, ed. A. Jobson (Woodbridge, 2004). For the decline of demesne farming, a case study from East Anglia is presented in D. Stone, Decision-Making in Medieval Agriculture (Oxford, 2005). The same area in a slightly later period is studied in

67 Quoted above, p. 162.

J. Whittle, The Development of Agrarian Capitalism: Land and Labour in Norfolk, 1440-1580 (Oxford, 2000).

For the use of forest resources, S. A. Mileson, Parks in Medieval England (Oxford, 2009); G. Foard, ‘Medieval Woodland, Agriculture and Industry in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire’, Medieval Archaeology, 45 (2001). Records relating to the forest are published in Oxfordshire Forests, 1246-1609, ed. B. Schumer, Oxfordshire Record Society, vol. 64 (Oxford, 2004). For sheep-farming, A. R. Bell, C. Brooks, and P. R. Dryburgh, The English Wool Market, c.1230-1327 (Cambridge, 2007). For mills, J. Langdon, Mills in the Medieval Economy: England1300-1540 (Oxford, 2004).

For the manor, its court, and associated records, M. Bailey, The English Manor c.1200-c.1500 (Manchester, 2002); Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. Z. Razi and R. Smith (Oxford, 1996); R. Evans, ‘Whose was the Manorial Court?’ in Lordship and Learning: Studies in Memory of Trevor Aston, ed. R. Evans (Woodbridge, 2004). For control of peasant land and legal transactions, C. Biggs, ‘Seigniorial Control of Villagers’ Litigation Beyond the Manor in Later Medieval England’, Historical Research, 81 (2008), 399—422; P. Schofield, ‘Manorial Court Rolls and the Peasant Land Market in Eastern England, c. 1250 — c. 1350’ and M. Muller, ‘Seigniorial Control and the Peasant Land Market in the Fourteenth Century: A Comparative Approach’, both in Feller and Wickham (eds.), Le Marche de la Terre au Moyen Age. Recent publications of court rolls are The Court Rolls of Walsham le Willows, 1305-50 and 1351-99, ed. R. Lock. 2 vols. Suffolk Record Society, vols. 41 and 45 (Woodbridge, 1998, 2002) and The Court Rolls of Elmley Castle, Worcestershire, 1347-1564, ed. R. K. Field, Worcestershire Historical Society, vol. 20 (Worcester, 2004). For court rolls from fifteenth- century Ireland see Handbook and Select Calendar of Sources for Medieval Ireland in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, ed. P. Dryburgh and B. Smith (Dublin, 2005), section 3.

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