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This book is a study in the evolution of English society between c. 1180 and c. 1280. The argument proceeds by means of a detailed analysis of the honour and locality of Coventry, concentrating upon the nature of lordship and upon the social and economic fortunes of knights, free tenants and local administrators, and the relationships between them. A further dimension is added by the existence of an important seignorial borough at the centre of the locality. The book therefore not only explores the role of the town in the evolution of the knightly class, but also examines more broadly the relationship between town and country in this period. Following this analysis the book turns to a broader consideration of the fortunes of the knightly class in the Warwickshire region and to the issues surrounding the evolution of knighthood in general.
List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; 1. Problems and perspectives; 2. The honour and locality of Coventry; 3. Town and country during and after the time of Earl Ranulf III; 4. Seignorial economy and the restructuring of estates; 5. Lords and free tenants; 6. Declining interests; 7. Knighthood in society; 8. The fortunes of the knightly class in thirteenth-century Warwickshire; 9. Conclusion: the origins of the gentry; Bibliography; Index.