Durham: Patronage, Service and Good Lordship

Matthew Holford

in Border Liberties and Loyalties

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780748632787
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651405 | DOI:
Durham: Patronage, Service and Good Lordship

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Liberties were typically distinguished from county society by their structures of lordship. The independence of liberties from the normal orbit of royal government went hand-in-hand with the intensification of seigneurial authority, and the quality of that lordship was central to how a liberty mattered in local society. Heavy lordship could provoke challenges to a liberty holder's authority; conversely, good lordship could make a liberty something more than an administrative and jurisdictional entity. The opportunities for service and advancement in a liberty; the availability of local office; the lord's management of patronage — all these could determine whether or not a liberty became a focus for the aspirations and ambitions of local society. Durham was no different, and this chapter explores the workings of good lordship in the bishopric. It examines the bishop's servants and familiars, the patronage they received, and their place in local society. It assesses the opportunities offered by the liberty to careerists from within and beyond the bishopric. It considers the bishops' relations with wider landed society by exploring how successfully they competed as good lords with the Balliol and Bruce families in the thirteenth century, and with the crown in the fourteenth century.

Keywords: liberties; lordship; bisphoric; bishops; servants; familiars; patronage; local society

Chapter.  20521 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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