Family, faith and fortification, Yorkshire 1066-1250
This thesis is an examination of the tenure and charitable donations of a number of interconnected noble families in post-Conquest Yorkshire. It begins with an introduction to the region; a social and political area of midland and northern England as opposed to a 'county' limited by set boundaries. The types of evidence are explained, charters, chartularies and surviving buildings, before moving on to the historical background. The first chapter examines the feudal divisions of Yorkshire, the evolution of honours and the extent to which Saxon divisions affected later boundaries. The chief places or 'capita' are discussed and presented as a fusion of urban, religious and seigneurial elements. Attention is paid to features of earlier landscapes, such as iron-age hillforts, that were re-used in this period. A major part of the thesis is the role of the castle both as one element of local government and as an expression of artistic patronage, social connections and status. The functions of both fortified and non-fortified seigneurial residences are explored. The links between castle and church encompass three chapters concentrating upon a shared artistic and architectural heritage, the role of the chapel within the castle household, the relationship of castle and church at village level and the importance of noble patronage to the development and power of monasticism. The study concludes with an outline of the various mechanisms that bound the nobility of Yorkshire together and suggests that they controlled their estates through a system of mutual co-operation and strategic patronage. The castle was a major part of this system, but, it is argued, it could not function in isolation and therefore the modern definition of a 'castle' as a fortified residence is misleading. A reinterpretation of the term 'castle' is offered as a final thought.