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Durham e-Theses
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The Durham gentry: social stablility and change in the palatinate of Durham, c.1286-1346

Boniface, Jonathan Paul (2006) The Durham gentry: social stablility and change in the palatinate of Durham, c.1286-1346. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis is a study of the gentry society of the palatinate of Durham in a sixty year period embracing the end of the thirteenth century and the first half of the fourteenth century. It sets the evidence concerning Durham against a number of key debates concerning the development and status of the gentry class within the north of England and the realm as a whole, and demonstrates that whilst the position of the gentry fits with general themes common to the realm, it had a different experience from the gentry of the far north because it stood aloof from the effects of the Scottish wars. The central theme is the notion of cohesion: did cohesion exist within Durham society and what form did it take? It is argued that this cohesion was not based upon a rigid separate administrative structure, but rather a whole range of social relationships manifested in the lordship of the bishop. The main areas to be considered are the role of the Durham gentry in administration and office-holding, and landholding and lordship. First, it is demonstrated that Durham administration was highly organised and comprised three distinct types of men, but that these men had varied careers and also identified their interests outside Durham. Second, it is demonstrated that there was great stability within landholding in the palatinate, and that theories of decline in the gentry class are not borne out by the evidence relating to Durham, although the role of the gentry was, itself, distinctive. Finally, the role of ecclesiastical relations, and the gentry within these, is considered, and it is proposed that a stratification took place between ecclesiastical and secular society in this period. Overall, this thesis argues that experience of the Durham gentry demonstrates that Durham society possessed a high degree of cohesion in this period, but that the historian should still be cautious when talking of 'identity' within that society.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2006
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:59

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