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Comment: Sent same / next day. Routledge, 1996. Clean, unread copy. Spine unbroken. Text / pages clean and unmarked. In stock and ready to send.
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The English Nobility in the Late Middle Ages: The Fourteenth-Century Political Community Paperback – 26 Sep 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (26 Sept. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415148839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415148832
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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'Given-Wilson is sensible and judicious, but also when necessary, incisive. As an introduction to the medieval nobility his book is ideal.' – Times Literary Supplement

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By Graham R. Hill VINE VOICE on 25 Oct. 2010
Format: Unknown Binding
I can only review this as a lay reader. As such the book did two things: it clearly and succinctly answered questions that I had never previously considered and it shed new light on issues that I had previously come across and only had a a hazy understanding of.

In the first category is the whole question of how the various ranks of the English aristocracy arose in the first place. Most of us will be aware that 1066 saw a clash between an Anglo-Saxon king who used to be an earl and a Norman duke who wanted to be a king. Given-Wilson explains how in the aftermath of the conquest 'barony' became hereditary without ever losing its solid foundation in money and how the nobility split into parish gentry, county gentry and a true nobility which was extremely small by European standards.

In the second, the author analyses what is meant by the concept of 'affinity' ( a term to be found in, for example, any history of the Wars of the Roses, but never really explained) and shows it to be a culmination of centuries of change. His argument is based in detail on the legal, economic and other changes that facilitated and/or were caused by these developments and one comes away with at least a broad idea of the some of the mechanisms by which great families rose and fell over centuries. I found, for example, that reading this provided a useful context to understand events covered in Gloucestershire's Forgotten Battle: Nibley Green 1470.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good value for money. Bought for my sons A level studies.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important study of the early Anglo-Norman upper class 14 July 2005
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
Four themes dominated the life of the medieval nobleman: warfare, politics, land, and family. All these made up English political society, not just for the great dukes and earls but also for the lesser peers and the gentry who formed the power base in the counties. The author thoroughly examines the English social structure, discussing what contemporaries meant when they talked of the nobility and analyzing in detail the territorial and familial policies of the great landholders. For instance, although William the Conqueror did not, as a matter of policy, dispossess the Anglo-Saxon nobility, that is, in fact, what had happened by the time of Domesday Book, twenty years later. By 1086, there were, at the top of society, about 170 great tenants-in-chief, men who held their land directly from the king, and enough of it to be described as barons. All but two of these men were Norman (or Breton, or Fleming). Among them, these 170 controlled about half the land of England. Another seventeen percent of the land was retained by William as his own demesne, and another quarter of the land was granted to the Church. The remaining eight percent was divided among all the other lesser tenants-in-chief and the minor royal officials. But even so, there were immense differences at the top, with Robert, count of Mortain (the king's brother), controlling a hundred times as much territory and income as, say, Robert of Aumale. In fact, about one-quarter of England was in the hands of ten men: Robert of Mortain, Odo of Bayeux (the king's other brother), William FitzOsbern, Roger de Montgomery, William de Warenne, Hugh d'Avranches, Eustace of Boulogne, Richard de Clare, Geoffrey of Coutances, and Geoffrey de Mandeville.

Given-Wilson also probes the surprising fact that no really great noble dynasts emerged in England during the 12th century -- a family that might compare in wealth and status with the great peers of France or the dukes and margraves of Germany. (It was mostly a combination of geographical dispersion of landholdings and much greater social fluidity than that of the 14th century.) The author is also careful to provide examples of his points from a large number of noble families of interest to the genealogist. The historical maps detailing the manor holdings of the Nevils, Berkeleys, Clares, Montagues, Beauchamps, Percys, Cliffords, Fitzalans, Mowbrays, and Beauforts are enlightening and the notes and bibliography are very extensive.
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