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Political Society in Lancastrian England: The Greater Gentry of Nottinghamshire.

S. J. Payling, Polilical Society in Lancastrian England: the Greater Gentry of Nottinghamshire (Ox Clarendon Press, 1991). xiv + 276 pp. ISBN 0-19-820209-1. 30.00[pounds]. This book is a useful contribution to the growing body of literature on the local society and politics of later mediaeval England. As the tide suggests, its author focuses attention upon a |county elite' of twelve or so knightly families who together dominated landholding, office-holding and parliamentary representation. The links between them -- above all, their |sense of corporate identity within the shire administration' -- were stronger than their links with the local nobility, so that in Nottinghamshire, if not elsewhere, it is argued, the independent power of leading gentlemen and not the pattern of noble lordship associated with |bastard feudalism' was the major factor in local politics. It may be felt that Dr Payling overstates his case -- allowing the |county elite' to be a continuing institution despite changes in its personnel, but tying the phenomenon of lordship to the inevitably fluctuating fortunes of individual magnate houses, underplaying the very considerable hegemony enjoyed by the Cromwell affinity in the last third of his period, insisting that lordship was a matter of subjection rather than, say, representation -- but his work asks important questions and his answers can only deepen our understanding of life in the later mediaeval shire.
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Author:Watts, John
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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