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Title: An investigation of the 'middling sort' of Bridgnorth in the Later Middle Ages
Author: Evans, Laura Jacquline
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 5616
Awarding Body: Aberystwyth University
Current Institution: Aberystwyth University
Date of Award: 2019
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The formation of towns and the different social groups who lived there has been an important field of study over the last sixty years and has illuminated many social groups who have previously only merited passing comment. One of these groups is the "middling sort", which emerged in the fourteenth century. This group were the most prosperous towns' people who gained wealth through wholesale trade and who held property in their town. Within this study they are defined by their property activities, civic duties and personal networks all of which were a key source of social and economic power. The status, power and identity of this group are examined within their locality of Bridgnorth which helped to mould their identity as they emerged through the fourteenth century alongside the growth of their town. The location of Bridgnorth was settled on as an appropriate location of study as an initial survey of the archival evidence offered a broad enough base to determine who Bridgnorth's middling sort were. The accessibility of archival sources for Bridgnorth are complimented with the remaining physical landscape of the town which still bears the original streets and layout established in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Bridgnorth allows for an investigation into the individual identities of the middling sort as well as their actions as a collective, away from the influence of larger towns and cities used for similar studies such as those of Chester and Coventry. Bridgnorth also offers an opportunity to study a flourishing rural town, which survived the plague years and did not appear to suffer dire losses and continued to prosper through the actions of this enterprising group. The size of Bridgnorth allows this study to follow the main middling sort families through the fourteenth century and watch the evolution of their social status. This progressing social status was performed through public displays of identity as well as gauging the values they held on status and sense of place as a collective of Bridgnorth. Bridgnorth has also been chosen, as unlike towns used in similar studies, it was never a manor. Therefore, Bridgnorth always maintained an element of individual identity which towns' derived from manors can sometimes lose. For the reasons above, Bridgnorth is an ideal location in which to study the middling sort and determine the criteria for inclusion in that social group.
Supervisor: Schofield, Phillipp ; New, Elizabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available