The Origins of the English Gentry

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Although the gentry played a central role in medieval England, this study is the first sustained exploration of its origins and development between the mid-thirteenth and the mid-fourteenth century. Arguing against views which see the gentry as formed or created earlier, the text investigates as well the relationship between lesser landowners and the Angevin state; the transformation of knighthood; and the role of lesser landowners in society and politics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Coss, an authority on knighthood and gentry, has produced for the gentry what K.B. McFarlane did for the aristocracy—a well-documented, well-defined, and well-argued history of a blass that played a central role in medieval England... This is a work of great scholarship.... Essential." Choice

"This is a thoughtful, thought-provoking, and important contribution to the debate on the origins of the gentry. It will be a profitable read for anyone with any interest in the politics and society of medieval England." Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire, Andy King, University of Durham

"Coss's meticulous examination becomes the standard guide to [the gentry's] rise and development." Albion, Lorraine Attreed

"an interesting and thought-provoking book" - Speculum High Thomas, University of Miami

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521826730
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2007
  • Series: Past and Present Publications Series
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Coss is Professor of Medieval History, School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Preface; 1. The formation of the English gentry; 2. The roots of the English gentry; 3. The Angevin legacy: knights as jurors and as agents of the state in the reign of Henry III; 4. The crisis of the knightly class revisited; 5. Knights in politics: minor landowners and the state in the reign of Henry III; 6. Knighthood, justice and the early Edwardian polity; 7. The explosion of commissions and its consequences; 8. Identity and the gentry; 9. Knights, esquires and the origins of social gradation in England; 10. Crystallisation: the emergence of the gentry; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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