Bastard Feudalism, English Society and the Law
Title Details

261 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

Imprint: Boydell Press

Bastard Feudalism, English Society and the Law

The Statutes of Livery, 1390-1520

by Gordon McKelvie

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A fresh look at the idea of bastard feudalism, deploying little-used records to provide new insights.

Regulation of the distribution of liveries and the practice of retaining, which underpinned the so-called system of bastard feudalism in late medieval England, are the subject of this book. Rather than relying primarily on the records of noble estates, as much previous scholarship has done, it draws on the records of the court of King's Bench, covering all 336 known cases of illegal livery and retaining over 130 years.
The author examines the political events and legal processes surrounding illegal livery, by exploring the nature of the legislation and its enforcement, particularly the relationship between law-making in parliament and law-enforcement in the localities. The wider social and cultural contexts in which the statutes operated are also investigated, along with the legal processes and outcomes of the cases. Finally, the book considers the importance of retaining in the numerous acts of magnate violence during the fifteenth century, how they shaped the Wars of the Roses and the ways in which Henry VII accepted most noble retaining, save the most extreme cases.

Dr GORDON MCKELVIE is a lecturer in History at the University of Winchester
Timeline of Parliamentary Activity
The System - Liveries and Retaining
The Early Years, 1390 to 1449
The Later Years, 1449 to 1520
Outcomes and Enforcement
The Identity of the Indicted
The Geography of the Cases
Networks and Localities
Livery and Disorder
The Urban Experience
Appendix 1: Number of Cases by Reign
Appendix 2: Number of Cases in each County
Appendix 3: List of Letters to Towns and Lordships
Appendix 4: List of Local Ordinances
Appendix 5: Letters from Henry VII to Duchy of Lancaster Officials

GORDON MCKELVIE, the principal researcher, is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Winchester and author of Bastard Feudalism, English Society, and the Law (Boydell, 2020).

"[c]areful and illuminating study" THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW (TMR)



February 2020


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Title Details

261 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

Imprint: Boydell Press