A comparative study of rural and urban manorial officialdom in the later medieval period

Owen, Grace (2022). A comparative study of rural and urban manorial officialdom in the later medieval period. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the responsibilities, remuneration, roles, and representations of manorial officials, those who were unfree peasants who were elected to manage and supervise the lord’s lands and tenants. Using a combination of economic, social, and cultural approaches, this work explores how officialdom on the manors of Glastonbury was influenced by a manor’s local structure, such as its degree of rurality, as well as how officialdom changed across the period c. 1250 – 1400.

The source material used in this thesis has been from an examination of the manorial source material from the Abbey of Glastonbury. This has predominantly been the accounts, court rolls, and custumals, for the manors of Ashbury, Ashcott, Damerham, Glastonbury, and Nettleton. This thesis has also utilised a variety of source material beyond the manorial record, such as art, literature, and treatises, in order to explore the wider cultural representations and perceptions of officialdom in combination with the manorial documentation.

Chapter 1 explores the structure of manorial officialdom and the responsibilities of each manorial officer at Glastonbury. Chapter 2 utilises a quantitative methodology to examine how officials were remunerated at each manor. Chapter 3 employs a quantitative and qualitative approach to analyse the activities of officials upon the manor and how they were treated by the hallmoot courts. Chapter 4 explores the variety of ways in which manorial officials were depicted in art and literature in order Ito examine the contemporaneous perceptions of officialdom.

A number of key conclusions have been found in this work. The structure of officialdom at Glastonbury was flexible, utilised to adapt to local structures and the impacts of wider socio-economic events in the fourteenth century. Officialdom played a vital role in mediating the carefully negotiated interplay between the central, seigneurial administration and the local manors, and executing important economic and administrative decisions. Officials were both of the peasantry but also distinct in their role as representatives of the seigneurial authority, as is shown in both the manorial record and art and literature of the period. This study has also demonstrated that officialdom can be used as a lens through which to explore and understand the changes and developments on the medieval manor due to external factors.

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 History and Cultures, Department of History
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
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12333


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