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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 Sinews of Aristocratic Power

The Sinews of Aristocratic Power

(p.158) 6 The Sinews of Aristocratic Power
Lords and Lordship in the British Isles in the Late Middle Ages

R. R. Davies

Oxford University Press

An analysis of lordship in the British Isles in the late Middle Ages must begin with authority over men, or tributary lordship — a theme obscured by the focus on land-lordship in English historiography. It was characterized by the extraction of communal cattle renders and by enforced hospitality and had judicial aspects that were retained in places such as lowland England where lordship had become territorialized. The land market interested all lords, and the economic exploitation of the land they acquired absorbed much of their time. They reduced the amount they held in demesne, shifted from arable to pastoral farming, and engaged with the market to maximise their profits. Rent became increasingly important, but lords also increased their exploitation of rights over forests, fisheries, and mills, and the disposal of peasant land. The lord's court was a crucial instrument of social control and economic gain.

Keywords:   tributary lordship, communal renders, hospitality, land market, demesne, pastoral farming, rent, forests, mills, lord's court

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