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Title: Illegitimacy and power : 12th century Anglo-Norman and Angevin illegitimate family members within aristocratic society
Author: Turner, James
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2020
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The Anglo-Norman and Angevin kings of the twelfth century were supported in the pursuit of their political and hegemonic activities by individual illegitimate members of the royal family. Illegitimate royal family members represented a cadre of auxiliary family members from which Anglo-Norman and Angevin kings, throughout the twelfth century, deployed specific members as a means of advancing their shared interests. The role of royal bastards within a royal familial identity and their usefulness to their legitimate family members, as potential dynastic and political resources, was informed and indeed enhanced by their illegitimate status. While Anglo-Norman and Angevin illegitimate family members’ inclusion and participation within a royal familial enterprise was highly conditional and consequently varied, individual royal bastards were fully or partially integrated participants within a collective familial identity, sharing a personal affinity with their legitimate family members. The inclusion of illegitimate family members in familial identity and dynastic activity, however, was not necessarily systematic and was primarily determined by the potential usefulness that illegitimate offspring represented to their legitimate family members. The most successful and contemporarily prominent Anglo-Norman and Angevin royal bastards were elevated to their positions of trust and authority in reaction to times of crisis and political instability in which their legitimate royal family members perceived the need for an ally amongst the aristocracy with whom they shared a strong personal and familial affinity and who could effectively cooperate in the pursuit and defence of their mutual familial interests. This imbalance of power, as well as the existence of natural personal affinity between family members and their shared dynastic interests were fundamental to the creation of a political niche for royal illegitimate family members as participants in royal service, protecting and advancing the dynastic interests of their legitimate family members. Having been largely disqualified from even consideration for the succession, Anglo-Norman and Angevin royal bastards ceased to be potential rivals for the throne; instead their alienation from inheritance rights and subsequent general dependence on a patron or the wider familial group, greatly increased their political utility to their legitimate relatives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available