The ‘countycommunity’ in later medieval England enjoyed a brief but influential vogue during the 1980s, lasting roughly from Nigel Saul’s Knights and Esquires (published in 1981), a study of the Gloucestershire gentry in the fourteenth century, to Simon Payling’s Political Society in Lancastrian England (published in 1991), a study (despite its title) of the Nottinghamshire gentry in the first half of the fifteenth. This vogue was partly the consequence of a kind of intellectual overspill from the early modern period, then suffering from a glut of such
conscious identity did it have? These were difficult questions to answer and, in an article in 1994, Carpenter pressed them against those who adhered to the notion of a countycommunity. What evidence was there for such? Neither the meetings of the county court nor the quarter sessions showed the county acting as a corporate entity. The elite gentry families may have led and identified with the county, but their interests generally ranged far wider. In any case a true countycommunity should embrace the numerous lesser families, whose solidarities were with their
Banaster’s revolt in 1315 and the subsequent suppression of the Contrariants lasted well into Edward II’s reign. Continued violence rendered necessary a rapid expansion of the peace commission until, by 1350, it was over sixty strong. 19 Neither this, nor the attempts of the countycommunity at collective peace keeping did much good, for the coercive powers of the palatinate’s law officers consistently proved too weak for their task. 20 Cattle rustling, inevitably frequent in an upland county, remained rife and often led to serious affrays. 21 There were attacks and
origin of this interest; J. S. Roskell, Parliament and Politics in Late Medieval England , vols. ii–iii (London, 1981) collects some pioneering case studies. For current thinking, P. R. Coss, The Langley Family and its Cartulary: a study in late medieval ‘gentry’ (Dugdale Soc., Occasional Papers, xxii, 1974); A. J. Pollard, ‘The Richmondshire community of gentry during the Wars of the Roses’, Patronage, Pedigree and Power in Later Medieval England , ed. C. Ross (Gloucester, 1979), pp. 37–59; M. J. Bennett, ‘A countycommunity: social cohesion among the Cheshire
’ as both the Commons and his own Council urged him to employ, while avoiding the charge of excessive interference in the affairs of the countycommunity preferred against Richard II.
The relationship between William Gascoigne and the new king soon developed beyond the purely official; he became one of Henry’s most trusted advisers, summoned to his presence in July 1401 ‘pur chivacher en nostre compaignie pur certaines treschargeantes matires touchante lestat de nous et de nostre roiaume’ and singled out by the Council in 1405 as one of those in whom the king put