By Eric Acheson
This publication examines the fifteenth-century gentry of Leicestershire below 5 wide headings: as landholders, as participants of a social group in line with the county, as individuals in and leaders of the govt of the shire, as individuals of the broader family and, ultimately, as contributors. Economically assertive, they have been additionally socially cohesive, this harmony being supplied via the shire group. The shire additionally supplied crucial political unit, managed via an oligarchy of more advantageous gentry households who have been really self sufficient of outdoor interference. the fundamental social unit used to be the extended family, yet exterior affects, supplied by means of difficulty for the broader family, the lineage or fiscal and political development, weren't significant determinants of family members process. Individualism one of the gentry used to be already validated by way of the 15th century, revealing its team of workers as a confident and assured stratum in overdue medieval English society.
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Additional info for A Gentry Community: Leicestershire in the Fifteenth Century, c.1422-c.1485
214; Nichols, 11, pp. 460, 568. , 11, pp. 18, 195. , iv, pp. 11. , iv, passim. , in, pp. 64, 366, 498. , in, pp. 1114-16. 77 Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, ed. J. s. 28, London, 1880, p. 74. C, 11, p. 63. , 1422-9, p. , 1429-36, p. , 1436-41, p. , 1441-6, p. 473- 75 76 21 A gentry community 80 worth in Guthlaxton. 8l Henceforth, neither Edward Grey's son, Sir John Grey, nor his grandson, Thomas, maintained Ferrers involvement in Leicestershire politics. Sir John was killed fighting for the king at the second battle of St Albans in 1461 and, keeping in mind the consequences which befell the lords Roos and Beaumont for failing to predict Lancastrian defeat, one may be tempted, for the sake of symmetry, to explain the eclipse of the Ferrerses of Groby in similar national-political terms.
See below, pp. 43-4, 49. 33 While the laws were silent on the issue, Sir John Fortescue, that fifteenth-century repository of legal, constitutional and probably archaic wisdom, is no more forthcoming. His reference to the knight (miles), the esquire (armiger) and the non-gentle franklin as being 'well-off in possessions'34 not only ignores the gentleman altogether but is also notable for its lack of precision. Nevertheless, Fortescue does alert us to the dangers of relying on economic considerations as a determinant of social status.
544—75; Saul, Knights and Esquires, p. 30 and passim. 31 We need to be wary, therefore, about welcoming too readily the newly found gentleman into the bosom of the fifteenth-century gentry. This outline of the development of a status group, the gentry, should reveal that the term is exceedingly flexible in meaning. For historians of the fourteenth century, knights and esquires constituted the gentry; for historians of the sixteenth, the gentry consisted of knights, esquires and gentlemen. But the student of the fifteenth century is in a particularly invidious position.