The nobility--The aristocracy divided into two classes--The more powerful members and the rest of the barons reside in the country-- Physical feebleness of the nobles--The Duke of Buckingham-- His possessions--His alliances--Magnificence of his living--The Earl of Berkeley--The Duke of Northumberland--His position on the Scottish marches--The Duke of Norfolk--The great peers emulate royalty-- England had become almost an aristocracy--The Earl of Devon and Lord Bonvile--Cardinal Kemp and his town of Ripon--Sir John Paston, the Duke of Norfolk, and the possessions of Sir John Fastolfe--The Earl of Berkeley and Lord Lisle--Bonds of retainers--Anarchy--Private war.
ABOVE the frankelyn and the untitled gentry in political power and privileges as well as in the extent of their possessions, though far inferior to them in social importance and in their influence upon the people, were the larger landowners and nobility. These had been thinned by proscription and by the foreign and domestic wars chiefly of the first half of the fifteenth century. In the beginning of that century the summons to parliament had been issued to forty-nine or fifty members of the baronage; in the first parliament of Henry VII. the number of noblemen summoned was only twenty-eight or twenty-nine.1 The survivors were divided____________________