"The speciall men in every shere": the Edwardian regime, 1547-1553
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This thesis examines clienteles during the reign of Edward VI, particularly those of the dukes of Somerset and Northumberland, and the role of the county elite in political society in order to reassess politics from the perspective of clientage. Edward's reign has not been extensively studied from this perspective but work by Dr Adams, Professor Guy and others on other periods provided the necessary context to reassess Edwardian politics. The aim was to investigate whether the regime continued to rely on the same core within the county elite employed in the 1520s and 1530s and again in Elizabeth's reign. This has involved extensive archival research since 1996 (in St Andrews, London and the Midlands). I have found that the privy council tried to foster a closer working relationship with the county elite in order to maintain stability and prevent faction during this period of minority government. The regime depended on the same core of gentlemen in the shires to act as commissioners of the peace and to fill the other vital local offices. Even within this group there was an inner-ring. This relationship was a two-way process and the clientage that underpinned early modem society was central to it. This study has also explored the extent to which Somerset's and Northumberland's clienteles were involved in central and local government to reassess how much the dukes operated as courtcentred or county-centred politicians. Both men dominated government in turn and their clienteles were vitally important. These were made up of their servants, family, friends and clients and were mutual self-support groups that reinforced their political and social status. Although principally intended as a political study, this research has come to incorporate military and local history. It has looked at how clienteles operated during periods of stability and crisis (the activities of Lord Seymour of Sudeley, the 1549 rebellions, the October coup, the second fall of Somerset and the succession crisis in 1553) in order to demonstrate how they really functioned.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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