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Newly-discovered family correspondence to stand alongside the Paston letters and Stonor papers.The collection of fifteenth-century letters printed here for the first time stands alongside the Paston and Stonor correspondence in its intrinsic interest and the light it sheds on contemporary gentry life. Edited from a recently discovered manuscript in Chetham's Library, Manchester (Mun.E.6.10 (4)), the letters deal largely with the prolonged dispute over the Brokholes inheritance in Warwickshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex, and are concerned principally with the affairs of one of the claimants, Joan Armburgh, and her husband Robert. The material mostly derives from the period c.1420-50, one of growing unease in national politics, which the letters reflect; but they are more concerned with affairs closer to home, and provide fascinating insights on local politics, the networks of `bastard feudalism' which bound the gentry to their lords and to each other, on the impact of lengthy litigation on a gentry family (especially its finances), and, more generally, on the management of their lands and business affairs. The startlingly vivid language of some of the less formal entries brings the writers strikingly to life.
Dr CHRISTINE CARPENTERis a Fellow of New Hall, and Reader in Medieval English History at Cambridge University.
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Exciting... the letters emphasise the determining role that familial, political and social relationships played in the lives of gentry families... illuminate(s) the litigation process, and all its attendant characteristics, with an unprecedented attention to detail. SPECULUM To the only four fifteenth-century letters collections has now been added a fifth... an important find... No previous letter collection has been so authoritatively edited on the legal technicalities. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW Dr Carpenter has put all students of fifteenth-century history and literature in her debt. MEDIUM AEVUM Exceptional document... warmly to be welcomed. It will be of most value to the growing band of historians interested in the social and political aspirations and activities of the gentry in the shires. Historians of gender will also find much valuable material. AGRICULTURAL HISTORY REVIEWThis volume is a treat. RICARDIAN (Richard Britnell)