Royal endowment of peerage creations in the reign of Edward III
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This thesis is an examination of the use Edward III made of various resources at his disposal in order to patronize a number of individuals destined for the parliamentary peerage or beyond. Primarily through a judicious use of escheats, forfeitures and expectancies, though also through his control over the marriages of his tenants-in-chief, Edward managed to endow a considerable number of new men with properties both suitable to their existing estates and commensurate with their new ranks. Edward's use of these sources, along with temporary forms of patronage such as wardships, annuities, offices and smaller token forms of favour, unsurprisingly sparked a considerable amount of contemporary reaction. However, unlike previous favourites, though Edward's new men did have to contend with a substantial amount of opposition at an individual level - especially in the law courts - popular reaction in general was surprisingly mute. Though there were instances when these men were singled out for criticism, for the most part landed society as a whole, and the established nobility in particular, received them with a degree of toleration rarely exhibited to parvenus. In part due to Edward's use of propaganda, but also to the terms on which he granted out a large portion of the patronage, Edward's new creations were seen as complementing rather than threatening the existing order. Indeed, it was Edward himself who may be said to have limited the powers of his 'new nobility' not only by making them dependent on his goodwill, but also by not allowing for much of the patronage granted out to remain out indefinitely. In the end, then, this thesis is about the first coherent realization by an English monarch of the importance of controlling the composition of the parliamentary peerage at a time when its membership was becoming increasingly predetermined.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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