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Title: Lordship, liberty and the pursuit of politics in Lynn, 1370-1420
Author: Parker, Katharine M.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2004
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In the early fifteenth century the town of Bishop's Lynn suffered protracted disagreements and factional infighting lasting, it has been argued, for fifteen years. As recently as 2000 these troubles were explained as the poorer people of the town struggling against financial exactions imposed on them by the rich. A study in 1996 posited struggles between elements among the elite themselves as bases for the problems. These, it has been suggested, were brought about by commercial inequalities among the merchants caused by changes in trade patterns. This thesis presents an entirely new theory to explain both their origin and longevity. Based predominantly on a study of the archives of King's Lynn, it throws new light on the town's political and economic life during the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. Optimism following the Lancastrian usurpation gradually gave way to a bitter realisation that ineffective national government had brought the town nothing but increasing impoverishment. The execution of Archbishop Scrope in 1405 prompted the disaffection of a large sector of the town. It became evident that the efforts of the elite to engage the king's support in enlarging borough liberties had completely failed and had estranged the town from its lord, the bishop of Norwich. The attempt, moreover, had brought Lynn to the verge of bankruptcy. The merchant community sought a way out of its financial difficulties by a sophisticated but ruthless attack on its former leaders. The town's troubles became enmeshed in the growing rivalries between Thomas Beaufort and Archbishop Arundel, and were only brought to a conclusion after the death of Henry IV when engagement in the ongoing struggles within Lynn was no longer of any benefit to Beaufort. Eventually the smack of strong government by Henry V posed a real threat to Lynn's treasured liberties, and this finally forged a new consensus in the borough. An introduction presents a historiography of the subject, and describes the sources. The study begins by setting the geographical and historical context of the town. The second chapter describes the mechanisms of borough governance and discusses the distribution of crown posts in the port. Chapter Three describes how a strong and united elite produced effective government and harmonious relations within the borough before 1399. Chapter Four will identify the causes for a breakdown in that consensus between 1399-1408. The fifth chapter surveys and explains events in the borough from 1408-1420, showing how the divisions became increasingly bitter and intransigent, reflecting the wider political landscape. The thesis is illustrated with maps and pictures. The appendices include an index of town governors 1370-95, transcriptions of original documents, short biographies of the leading personalities in the fifteenth century troubles and a discussion of the acquisition of borough freedom during the period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available