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Title: Kingship and usurpation 1399-1485
Author: Brown, L.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis focuses on the relationship between kingship and usurpation in the period between the deposition of Richard II in 1399 and the accession of Henry VII in 1485. The whole edifice of medieval English kingship was ideologically and practically founded upon the understanding that a monarch was above the judgement of his subjects, yet in the period between 1399 and 1485 the English king was violently removed from office on six occasions. These events created a formidable intellectual paradox at the heart of the institution of kingship, with each usurper attempting to claim for himself the immunity from correction that he had so recently and forcibly violated. The ways in which this paradox was approached by successive usurpers offer a potentially illuminating insight into medieval political structures and the way these structures were viewed by contemporaries. This thesis investigates the attempts at legitimation put forward by the various usurping dynasties that occupied the English throne between 1399 and 1485, and the extent to which these attempts were accepted by the political community. It considers the six usurpations both individually and as a sequence in which each informed the next, through the medium of two groups of records. The first group consists of records created by the central government concerned, either directly or tangentially, to legitimise its hold on power. The second group comprises documents produced by the king’s subjects, either in support of, or in opposition to, his government and its theoretical statements. By analysing these two groups of material, this thesis explores how the attempts to legitimise the fifteenth-century usurpations worked, the degree to which they were accepted and the impact they had on underlying contemporary assumptions about kingship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available