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This book provides a broad-ranging and accessible coverage of the role of noble women in medieval England. Throughout the Middle Ages the men and women of the nobility and gentry occupied a position at the top of the social hierarchy. Marriage for noble and gentry children was arranged by their families, with the participation on occasion of their lords and of the king, and it was relatively rare for the children themselves to take matters into their own hands. As with marriage, the woman's relationship to her husband and children has to be seen within the framework of canon and common law, the Church being concerned with the marriage itself, and the royal courts with property. The crucial importance of land as the source of wealth for noble and gentry society has been underlined in the discussion of both marriage and the family. Women's landholding is well documented, the amount of land in their hands varying according to the accidents of birth and fortune. The household was the centre and hub of the lady's life and activities, and can be regarded as a community in its own right. Men and women of the nobility and gentry living in the world were encouraged to practise their religion through attendance at Mass, private prayer on behalf of themselves and the dead, works of charity, pilgrimage, and material support of the Church. Although many women's lives followed a conventional pattern, great variety existed within family relationships, and individuality can also be seen in religious practices and patronage. Piety could take a number of different forms, whether a woman became a nun, a vowess or a noted philanthropist and benefactor to religious institutions.

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Jennifer Ward

The crucial importance of land as the source of wealth for noble and gentry society has been underlined in the discussion of both marriage and the family. As far as women’s landholding is concerned, the significance of land is emphasised by the sheer amount of surviving evidence, although the nature of the sources varies over time. Women as landholders are found in the Domesday Survey

in Women of the English Nobility and Gentry, 1066-1500
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Jennifer Ward

Women’s landholding is well documented, the amount of land in their hands varying according to the accidents of birth and fortune. Land, however, had to be managed if it was to yield as good an income as possible, and wealth was essential for any member of the nobility to maintain a conspicuous lifestyle, to play a part in local and possibly central politics through the exercise of

in Women of the English Nobility and Gentry, 1066-1500
Pauline Stafford

the most familiar sources to check the terminology of landholding, lordship and clientage to see whether early medieval authors used the words and terms associated with ‘feudalism’, which modern historians read into them. And she is very nearly always right: only very rarely is any so-called ‘feudal’ terminology to be found in eighth-century sources, that is to say, in the period in which in which ‘feudalism’ was supposedly born. 7 As for the watershed, and the pivotal role of the new dynasty, she teaches us to resist teleology, and calls for each moment to be

in Law, laity and solidarities
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Noble landlords and greedy speculators
Elizabeth McKellar

landholdings upon which development is known to have occurred, the extent to which this took place upon noblemen’s estates and the role they played within the development process. One of the most easily identifiable group of sites are those where aristocratic houses and their grounds were vacated, pulled down, and rebuilt with a higher density of residential

in The birth of modern London
Empire and the Italian state’s pursuit of legitimacy, 1871–1945
Giuseppe Finaldi

is a great fortune that we can create a new society of the Italian race overseas … a truly democratic society based on land-holding peasants … A time will come when those old societies, if they are unable to find a place on which to lean in their distant, their greener and more dynamic colonies, will be crushed by the greater vigour of more fortunate

in European empires and the people
Transforming indirect rule
Ben Silverstein

its social forces with those of British colonialism. While a thoroughgoing remodelling of these societies would lead to their dissolution, knowledge of native institutions presented the shrewd governor with opportunities for rearticulation. His books presented the techniques for doing so, three of which will be examined here: bolstering chieftaincy, a process of training that would generate a stronger state; taxation, which would strengthen but also integrate the state, producing as its effect an increased productivity of labour; and customary landholding

in Governing natives

The Norman kingdom of Sicily is one of the most fascinating and unusual areas of interest within the discipline of medieval history. The unification of the island of Sicily with the southern Italian mainland in the years after 1127 altered the balance of power in the Mediterranean and had a major impact on the power politics of Europe in the central Middle Ages. Count Roger II of Sicily was crowned as the first king of the new kingdom of Sicily in Palermo cathedral on Christmas Day 1130. Two principal narrative texts, the 'History of King Roger' of Abbot Alexander of Telese and the Chronicle of Falco of Benevento, reveal diametrically opposing views of King Roger and his state-building. Alexander of Telese suggested that Roger deliberately cultivated an image of restraint and remoteness that he might be feared by evildoers, and the chronicle attributed to Archbishop Romuald of Salerno said that he was more feared than loved by his subjects. If the German sources show the expedition of 1137 from the viewpoint of the invaders, the Montecassino chronicle depicts it from that of the recipients, trying to safeguard their own interests in the face of conflicting pressures on them. The 'Catalogue of the Barons' is a source of great importance for the study of the kingdom of Sicily in the mid-twelfth century, both for the military system and for the structure of landholding in the mainland provinces, but it is a problematic text.

H. R. French
R. W. Hoyle

, the acquisition and sale of land by individuals and families and its devolution between generations.2 Studying the history of landholding from copyhold is not without problems. Earls Colne exemplifies some of the problems of this evidence: not only does the record contain gaps, but the quality of the evidence also varies over time. When lordship was a source of genuine, bankable profit, court rolls were scrupulously kept. By the end of the seventeenth century (and certainly in the eighteenth), they are often no more than rough memoranda of admittances. Descriptions

in The character of English rural society

Feudalism, venality, and revolution is about the political and social order revealed by the monarchy’s most ambitious effort to reform its institutions, the introduction of participatory assemblies at all levels of the government. It should draw the attention of anyone interested in the sort of social and political conditions that predisposed people to make the French Revolution. In particular, according to Alexis de Tocqueville’s influential work on the Old Regime and the French Revolution, royal centralization had so weakened the feudal power of the nobles that their remaining privileges became glaringly intolerable to commoners. Feudalism, venality, and revolution challenges this theory by showing that when Louis XVI convened assemblies of landowners in the late 1770s and 1780s to discuss policies needed to resolve the budgetary crisis, he faced widespread opposition from lords and office holders. These elites regarded the assemblies as a challenge to their hereditary power over commoners. The monarchy incorporated an administration of seigneurial jurisdictions and venal offices. Lordships and offices upheld inequality on behalf of the nobility and bred the discontent evident in the French Revolution. These findings will alter the way scholars think about the Old Regime society and state and should therefore find a large market among graduate students and professors of European history.