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Society, governance, and politics in the Elizabethan west march, c.1570 – 1603

LEONARD, FERGAL (2023) Society, governance, and politics in the Elizabethan west march, c.1570 – 1603. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 20 September 2026.


This thesis explores the place of the west march of the Anglo-Scottish borders within the evolving early modern state. The march was a part of the realm with strong regional idiosyncrasies. Its administrative structures and society had been moulded by its history as a frontier, and the relationship between its people and their prince was shaped by the ongoing needs of border defence. Part of its community consisted of the ‘riding surnames’, clannish families whose social structure and culture differed in some respects from contemporary English norms.

In the historiography of state formation, such idiosyncratic, ‘peripheral’ areas have often been understood primarily through narratives of deliberate and conscious attempts by those at the political ‘centre’ to impose administrative and social homogeneity at the expense of regional diversity. This thesis presents a study of the interactions between marcher subjects and crown government which offers a new insight into the attitudes and policies which Elizabeth’s government applied in the administration of her diverse and culturally complex realm. It explores how the marcher community participated in local governance and so shaped their experience of authority, and through their activism influenced the conduct of those who ruled over them. The demands they made of the state, and how they responded to the demands made of them, made the process of governance an ongoing, multilateral negotiation through which both rulers and ruled exerted their agency. Over time, the political elite of the marches gradually reconfigured and negotiated their place within the realm and their relationship with their prince. In doing so, they shaped the form and function of the early modern state.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Sep 2023 14:58

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