The concept of ‘lordship’ has been more central to the historiography of medieval France and Germany than to that of England or Britain. This may be because England was a king-focused political community; the sources were for the most part produced by the royal government; and English historians have concentrated instead on such issues as state-formation. The approach of this book is thematic and analytical; it is sensitive to the chronological and geographical varieties of lordship within the British Isles. The chronological limits of the book are explained, with particular reference to the wealth of documentation available for the chosen period. The focus on the very highest element of the aristocracy is justified, as is the decision to exclude consideration of ecclesiastical lordship and the nature of power in ‘Celtic’ societies. The choice of the British Isles as the unit of investigation is defended.
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