Bastard Feudalism in England in the Fourteenth Century

Christine Carpenter

in Kings, Lords and Men in Scotland and Britain, 1300–1625

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2014 | ISBN: 9780748691500
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9781474400848 | DOI:
Bastard Feudalism in England in the Fourteenth Century

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Ever since the 1950s, the assumption has been that ‘bastard feudalism’ – the network of ties between greater and lesser landowners in this period – was the same in the fourteenth as in the fifteenth century. This chapter reviews recent work which can be understood as undermining this assumption. It approaches the problem of ‘bastard feudalism’ before the 1370s from two perspectives. First, what we know of noble affinities in the century up to the 1370s is re-examined, suggesting that these were not yet affinities as we know them later on, in either structure or purposes. Secondly, the nature and personnel of royal government and legal administration in the localities from the late thirteenth century to the 1370s is explored, and the accepted hypothesis of devolution further challenged. From this, a possible alternative narrative of the linked themes of royal government and ‘bastard feudalism’ within this period is offered. The conclusions have implications for kingship, government, governance, noble power, local society and, more generally, power structures in England between the late thirteenth century and the late fourteenth.

Keywords: feudalism; bastard feudalism; lordship; government; administration

Chapter.  17642 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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