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Title: The Crown and the local communities in Devon and Cornwall from 1377 to 1422
Author: Tyldesley, Christopher John
ISNI:       0000 0001 3540 2702
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 1978
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The first half of this thesis deals with political society in the two counties with emphasis on their parliamentary representation, the Justices of the Peace, the sheriffs, escheators and other royal agents. In the second half, the characteristics of the county communities are examined in detail in terms of their relations with the Crown at different times and under three kings. Two underlying themes are the autonomy of these counties and the endemic lawlessness of the gentry. These characteristics were heightened in Cornwall because political leadership from the nobility was absent. Gentry affinity groups and not the indentured armies of the nobility were the main threat to 'good governance' at this time. Membership of the commission of the peace and the office of sheriff were both instruments of local politics and thus sought by the gentry, although this was less true in Devon than in Cornwall. The representation of the counties in parliament underwent considerable change. The qualifications for election as a knight of the shire remained status and experience in parliament and royal administration. As regards the parliamentary burgesses, however, there was a shift, complete by about 1390, from the election of lawyers to that of gentry. Few merchants were elected. By 1422, the contrast between knights of the shire and burgesses was blurred; both represented the whole county community. Members of the king's Uousehold were often elected to parliament, although the counties were reluctant to do this during the second half of the 1380's and the first halt of the reign of Henry IV. The Household and the use of land for patronage were both of great importance to the Crown and the counties. During the 1380's the demands of the Household for patronage contributed to the unpopularity of the regime. The Household served the Crown best when its members were local landowners employed in their own counties. This was increasingly true during the 1390's, but particularly so after 1399. Richard II had a coherent policy for Devon and Cornwall. In Devon he set up Holand against Courtenay and fostered new gentry in Cornwall. However, there is little evidence of open hostility to Richard in 1399. On the other hand, there was not much support for the Oarl of Huntingdon in January 1400. The Duchy of Cornwall, dispersed by Richard II, was not transferred to Prince Henry until 1404 and then not completely. The reigns of Henry IV and Henry V saw the achievement of compromise between Crown and communities. Both kings manipulated local offices but neither, in striking contrast to Richard II, attempted to undermine the establishment among local landowners.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available