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Lords and Lordship in the British Isles in the Late Middle Ages$
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Rees Davies and Brendan Smith

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542918

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542918.001.0001

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The Higher Aristocracy: Identity and Memory

The Higher Aristocracy: Identity and Memory

(p.21) 1 The Higher Aristocracy: Identity and Memory
Lords and Lordship in the British Isles in the Late Middle Ages

R. R. Davies

Oxford University Press

The dimensions of the group to be considered are outlined. It was characterized by a rapid turnover of personnel and the concentration of more titles in fewer hands. Its pan-British character declined from the end of the 13th century. Ensuring the continuance of the family name was a chief concern, especially when a male heir was lacking. Identity was also strengthened through visual and material means, including the employment of heraldic devices and the distribution of livery, and by the commissioning of family chronicles. Only a small residue of the various records produced by the aristocracy now survives, but we know that they kept their own archives, and particularly documents relating to property, carefully. The character of the individual lord was vital because lordship was intensely personal. The careers of three magnates from across the British Isles are traced.

Keywords:   dimensions, turnover, pan-British, family name, heraldic devices, livery, chronicles, archives, character

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