England in the Fifteenth Century

By W. Denton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
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.

I. S

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

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1
In the first year of Henry IV., at the beginning of the civil war, the peers summoned to parliament consisted of four dukes and one marquis, all members of the royal family; ten earls and thirty-four (Stubbs) or thirty-five barons ( Dugdale in Writs of Summons), a total of forty-nine or fifty. When the War of the Roses was almost at an end, in the first year of Richard III., the summons was directed to one duke, the Prince of Wales, two other dukes, seven earls, two viscounts, and twenty-six barons, thirty-eight in all. To the first parliament of Henry VII. were summoned two dukes, nine earls, two viscounts, and fifteen or sixteen barons, twentyeight or twenty-nine in all. In the eleventh year of the same reign, to the last parliament in the fifteenth century, the summons was issued to two dukes, one being the Prince of Wales, one marquis, eleven earls, two viscounts, and twenty-four barons, forty in all.-- Dugdale Writs of Summons; Stubbs' Constitutional History, vol. iii., p. 15; Parry Parliaments and Councils.

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England in the Fifteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I 127
  • Chapter II 197
  • Chapter III 257
  • Note A. Weight of Cattle, Etc 309
  • Note B. the Statute of Labourers 311
  • Note C. Allowance of Food for Farm Servants 317
  • Note D 318
  • Index 321
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