A study of society in the Anglo-Scottish borders, 1455-1502
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The thesis is a detailed descriptive survey of the society of the Anglo-Scottish borders in the second half of the fifteenth century. The survey is divided into three sections, the first providing a background to border society, the second examining the structure of that society, and the third describing how the society was governed. As an introduction to the study of border society, the geography and economy of the frontier region are briefly described; a short survey of border towns is attempted; and the role of the Church in border society is examined, although this is mainly confined to a description of the ecclesiastical institutions in the area. In analysing the structure of border society in the later fifteenth century a division is made between, on the one hand, the levels of society, and, on the other, the interconnections which bound the border population together. The lower ranks of border society, both urban and rural, are examined in as uuch detail as is permitted by the scarcity of surviving evidence. The leading families on each side of the frontier are described and their role in border society is examined. Interconnections within border society are investigated from three aspects: the bond of kinship; connections and ties of dependency among leading border families; and relationships across the frontier. The topic of kinship bonds raises the question of the origin of border surnames, and an attempt is made to contribute to this controversy by examining the state of development of the surnames by the mid-fifteenth century. Connections between leading border families are examined under the categories of land-holding relationships, connections formed through marriage, and bonds based on employment or the more formal contracts of retainer manrent. Interconnections, so far as they existed, between English and Scottish borderers are described as a conclusion to the survey of the ways in which border society was knit together. The final section of the thesis is concerned with the government of border society. As a means of introduction, the background of the political relations between the kingdoms of England and Scotland is established by a detailed analysis of events during the half-century. Following this survey of how the two countries alternated between truce and open war during the period, an analysis is made or the terms of the truces signed between 1455 and 1502. This examination of truce terms, which were mainly concerned with frontier control, leads on to a survey of the operation of law-enforcement on the borders. The machine of law-enforcement, involving the imposition of both the international frontier law control and the national laws of the respective countries is described, and standards of efficiency among judicial officers are touched upon. Aspects of law-enforcement on the borders which are of particular interest are subsequently exanined, and both the general character and the causes of border lawlessness are discussed. In the examination of law-enforcement machinery the function of officials are described, but as a conclusion to the survey of law and order on the borders the holders of the various offices are investigated. In the conclusion to the thesis a brief generalised description is attempted of the characteristics of border people and their society in the later fifteenth century.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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