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The Origins of the English Gentry

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Preface; 1. The formation of the English gentry; 2. The roots of the English gentry; 3. The Angevin legacy: knights as jurors and as agents of the state in the reign of Henry III; 4. The crisis of the knightly class revisited; 5. Knights in politics: minor landowners and the state in the reign of Henry III; 6. Knighthood, justice and the early Edwardian polity; 7. The explosion of commissions and its consequences; 8. Identity and the gentry; 9. Knights, esquires and the origins of social gradation in England; 10. Crystallisation: the emergence of the gentry; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Peter Coss is Professor of Medieval History, School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University.


'This book is in the very best tradition of British medieval scholarship. Its conclusions are based on scrupulous empirical reasoning, but they are also framed with a wide historiographical context ... this is a great book.' History 'Professor Cross has written a splendid analysis of the changing aristocracy of the two hundred years after 1150 that will be required reading for the next century or so. What he has also attempted is even more bold and original, nothing more nor less than to explain the evolution of the English gentry.' Reviews in History 'Coss the innovator, hypothesiser, and controversialist is underpinned by Coss the meticulous researcher, analyst, and open-minded searcher for truth in what is in many ways an exemplary and undoubtedly far-reaching scholarly monograph ... his highly academic book deserves to be re-read and re-read ...' Reviews in History 'There is much to admire in this book, both in the general picture and in the details. In particular, Coss raises important questions ... this is an extremely important book which will be essential reading for specialists in the history of the English gentry, but which all scholars of the political history of medieval England should also consult.' The Economic History Review '... splendid analysis of the changing aristocracy of the hundred years after 1250 (his area of supreme expertise) that will be required reading for the next century or so.' BBC History Books of the Year 2004 'This is a scholarly, thought-provoking, and wide-ranging book, which includes engaging discussions of the use of heraldry and the role of parliament. Although it focuses upon the Midlands, it will be of value to all historians of medieval society.' Southern History Society

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