Lordship in four realms

The lacy family, 1166-1241

Author: Colin Veach

This book examines the rise and fall of the aristocratic Lacy family in England, Ireland, Wales and Normandy. As one of the first truly transnational studies of individual medieval aristocrats, it provides a fresh look at lordship and the interplay between aristocracy and crown from 1166 to 1241. Hugh de Lacy (†1186), traded on his military usefulness to King Henry II of England in Wales and Normandy to gain a speculative grant of the ancient Irish kingdom of Mide (Meath). Hugh was remarkably successful in Ireland, where he was able to thwart the juvenile ambitions of the future King John to increase his powers there. Hugh was hailed by native commentators as ‘lord of the foreigners of Ireland’ and even ‘king of Ireland’. In this study his near-legendary life is firmly grounded in the realities of Anglo-Irish politics. The political career of Hugh’s less famous son and heir, Walter de Lacy (†1241), is in turn illuminated by surviving royal records and his own acta. Walter was one of the major actors in the Irish Sea province under Kings Richard I, John and Henry III, and his relationship with each king provides a unique insight into the nature of their reigns. Over the course of fifty-two years, Walter helped to shape the course of Anglo-Irish history. That history is recast in light of the transnational perspective of its chief participants. This book is a major contribution to current debates over the structure of medieval European society.

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‘ A work that significantly deepens our understanding of issues that lie at the heart of the history of Ireland, Britain, and France in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries...Lordship in four realms...looks set to quickly become a standard point of reference for scholars in this field.'
Brendan Smith
August 2015

‘His book deserves to be widely read and it is to be hoped that it will lead to further studies of transnational aristocratic families.'
MAX LIEBERMAN, Historical Institute, University of Berne
English Historical Review
January 2016

‘In extending his study to cover the interactions of Gautier de Lacy with the aristocracy of his times, the author exposes the tensions deliberately provoked by the monarchy in order to unbalance, to its advantage, relations between the great lords of the four realms.
CAHIERS DE CIVILISATION MÉDIÉVALE
February 2020

‘Veach has provided an important account of the advantages and disadvantages of simultaneously holding aristocratic estates in the different parts of ‘the Plantagenet empire’. He has also shed new light on the contrasts and similarities between the reigns of Henry II, Richard I, John and Henry III. His book deserves to be widely read and it is to be hoped that it will lead to further studies of transnational aristocratic families.
The English Historical Review
February 2020

‘Lordship in four realms is a notable debut, and it is not only historians of medieval Ireland who will look forward to the work that is to follow.
Irish Historical Review
February 2020

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