The Holland family, Dukes of Exeter, Earls of Kent and Huntingdon, 1352-1475
At the turn of the fourteenth century, the Hollands were a knightly family of no great import in Lancashire. In 1475, Henry Holland died as the Lancastrian claimant to the throne. Such a transformation, in itself, deserves explanation. This will reveal the dramatic rise of a family through the beneficence of noble and then royal patronage and, even more so, through the fortune of a good marriage being compounded by a conbination of fortuitous heirless deaths and a significant remarriage to bring an inheritance and royal kinship. That was the means of ascension through the ranks of the nobility, and it was sustained by consistent service to the crown at court and in the field. The Hollands were not a family of local power who built on this to thrust themselves into the nobility; their local basis almost verged on the nomadic and it is within the context of the court that they must be viewed, they were curialist nobility. Therefore, the absence of family and estate papers is not such a blow to their study as the records of central administration have much to reveal of their activities and their estates were not of such concern to them as they were for other families. This chronological survey of their rise, significance and disappearance provides something of a commentary on the political, and military, events of later medieval England. It helps further to fill in our picture of England's nobility, confirming its great individuality and providing an example of how a rapid rise through its ranks was possible.