A social and economic study of the Cinque Ports region, 1450-1600
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The Cinque Ports are the only example of a fully-developed confederate structure in English history. As a result, historians have tended to consider the fortunes of the region as a whole and have stressed the factors which unified the member ports. This approach has, however, tended to ignore the individuality of each of the members. This study attempts to redress the balance by considering the impact of the confederate bond upon the individual members and, by so doing, to demonstrate that the concept of confederation was extremely limited and applied only in certain narrow and carefully-defined areas. This study, therefore, examines several aspects of life within the confederation, it traces the origins and development of the ports and attempts to explain why the confederation was declining in importance by the fifteenth century. It then considers the economy of the region and investigates the evidence for overall economic decline during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The central theme of this study is, however, an examination of the internal government of the member ports and the extent to which the development of institutions within each town was influenced by membership of the confederation. The governmental structure of each head port is investigated and particular attention is paid to modifications which were introduced and the circumstances which caused these changes, a similar examination is then made of the pattern of government within the corporate and non-corporate limbs and the structure of the governing class throughout the confederation is also discussed. This study then turns to an examination of the links between the members of the confederation. It considers the financial relations between head port and limb and examines the significance of disputes between the two parties. The central institutions of the confederation - the office of warden and the Brodhull - are then examined and particular emphasis is laid upon the nature and extent of their' powers over the members of the confederation. In considering each of these themes, this study intends to show that the internal affairs of each of the members were little affected by membership of the Cinque Ports confederation and seeks to demonstrate the extremely limited nature of the confederate bond.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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