The court and household of Edward III, 1360-1377
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This thesis is written in two parts. The first part contains an examination of the household functionings as an institution. Although the household was an establishment of declining national importance in the years 1360-1377, due to the fact that Edward III was increasingly separated from it and thus it lost much of its political significance, nevertheless his subjects were on the whole satisfied with the way in which the king ran his household. What complaints there were about its activities were not generalised condemnations but specific complaints aimed at either the jurisdictional competence of the court of the [indecipherable] or the way in which the kings purveyors abused their positions. The numbers of household staff declined steadily during this period, from over 550 in 1359-60 to less than 350 in 1377, the most radical drop being in the early 1360s and probably being due to the fact that the household was no longer involved in the war. Despite the merger of the King’s and Queen’s households in 1360, wardrobe turnover was much reduced by this drop in numbers and by the household's non-involvement in the war; moreover real attempts at economy were made in the household throughout this period. The chamber too had its official income reduced but in actuality its unofficial income probably made it a vary wealthy department in the 1360s although after 1369 most of its wealth was ploughed into the exchequer, by now very much a controlling organ of the national finances, to help to finance the renewed French war. The second part of the thesis examines the part which the royal domestic establishments played in the political upheavals of 1376-77. The Good parliament was not an attack on a system of government, still less an attack on the household. It was a highly personalised attack on a group of courtiers and their associates who had come increasingly to dominate both the kings policies and his patronage in the 1360s and 1370s. Yet with notable exceptions these courtiers were much more than mere idle royal favourites; the commons in the Good Parliament were quick to forget the services which men such as William Latinor, John Yovill and Richard Lyons had done to the state, and while it is true that these men had personally benefitted considerably from their association with the court, nevertheless the charges brought against them in the Good Parliament were in many cases most unfair. Finally, the part played by the lords in the events of 1376-77 in investigated and it is argued that although there was some opposition from the prelates to the government (now virtually ran by John of Gaunt although this was far from being the case before 1376), there really is very little evidence to suggest that the lay magnates either led the opposition in the Good Parliament or seriously opposed government policies in the last year of the reign.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy