The formation of shires in the West Midlands: the case of Staffordshire

Edwards, Matthew J (2008). The formation of shires in the West Midlands: the case of Staffordshire. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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By the time of Domesday Book the shire was the basic unit of administration throughout the West Midlands and most of England, fulfilling important military, administrative, judicial, and fiscal functions. But we know very little from reliable documentary sources about the origins of the West Midland shires as territories owing to an almost complete absence of them. This study therefore investigates afresh the territorial origins of Staffordshire. It assesses how much can be said about the layout of the shire's hundreds in 1086, and compares the layout of its Domesday hundreds and that of its early parochial landscape. The study also examines what the course of the shire's boundary reveals about its origins, and considers how the roles that Staffordshire served may have influenced its original geographical extent.

A multi-disciplinary approach has been used, employing a wide range of topographical, archaeological and place-name evidence as well as the sparse available written material. The thesis argues that explaining the origins of the West Midland shires is far less straightforward than previous studies have proposed, and shows that many of our sources for the origins and development of the English medieval administrative landscape are more difficult to interpret than is usually believed.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Historical Studies
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain


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