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The NorthernersA Study in the Reign of King John$
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J. C. Holt

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203094.001.0001

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The King’s Friends

The King’s Friends

(p.217) XII The King’s Friends
The Northerners

J. C. Holt

Oxford University Press

Medieval government was concerned before all else with managing men. Governmental office at the more important levels tended inevitably to become the perquisite of a small group. There were those ‘in’ and those ‘out’. But so long as this small group was chosen reasonably, so long as the monopoly of office did not seem too impenetrable or unbreakable, so long as those ‘out’ did not come to answer the questions set out above with excessive rancour and indignation, then the government would work and the King's choice of officials pass with little challenge. Ultimately, King John did not accept these limitations on his freedom of action, for in this, as in other matters, his hand was forced by the loss of Normandy, Anjou, and the Touraine. He had to provide for loyal and efficient friends and agents who had lost both estate and office on the continent. This helped to create the situation existing in 1215 in which the opposition attacked not only the actions of the King's officials, but also their selection.

Keywords:   King John, medieval government, officials, opposition

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