contributor.author: Beth Hartland

title.none: Bothwell, Edward III and the English Peerage (Beth Hartland)

identifier.other: baj9928.0509.027 05.09.27

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Beth Hartland, University of Durham, beth.hartland@durham.ac.uk

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Bothwell, J.S. Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility and Political Control in Fourteenth-Century England. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2004. Pp. x, 232. $75.00 1-84383-047-7. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.09.27

Bothwell, J.S. Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility and Political Control in Fourteenth-Century England. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2004. Pp. x, 232. $75.00 1-84383-047-7. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Beth Hartland
University of Durham
beth.hartland@durham.ac.uk

Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility and Political Control in Fourteenth-Century England focuses on a group of sixty-eight men (the "new men") who were promoted into the parliamentary peerage by Edward III, with the main focus on thirteen particularly favoured individuals (the "major players"). Part One of the book explores how Edward managed to elevate these men into this increasingly hereditary and powerful group through the use of patronage. Part Two examines Edward's patronage of his "new men" in the wider context of his patronage of the parliamentary peerage as a whole, and considers why there was not more contemporary noise made about these appointments. Part Three provides useful appendices listing the grants of patronage on which Bothwell's analysis is based.

Part One is particularly useful to those interested in patronage in general as it provides an excellent discussion of various types of patronage available for distribution by the king, and of the various elements within individual grants which should be taken into account. Patronage is (understandably) defined quite narrowly as "where the king gives reward or advantage to his new men for past, present or future service" (11), and the discussion does not include royal pardons for misdemeanours or exemptions from the obligation to perform public offices. Control over patronage resources was fundamental to any attempt to implement a patronage policy, and Part One clearly explains how the combined impact of exchequer reforms, increased efficiency of the escheator's office, increased customs revenue and Edward I's land legislation allowed Edward III this opportunity. Both in terms of the capacity to anticipate feudal resources that would come in, and in terms of the fact that the parliamentary peerage was not yet the closed institution it was to become in the fifteenth century, Edward III was in a unique position to influence the composition of the parliamentary peerage.

It is not until Part Two that Edward's treatment of his "new men" is measured against the king's largesse to the parliamentary peerage as a whole. This organisation of the material is potentially problematic as it is not until Chapter Seven, "Distribution of Royal Favour" that the reader can evaluate the assertions made in Part One alongside comparable data relating to the wider parliamentary peerage. This, however, is a minor defect in a well-researched and thought out study, which offers new ways to consider Edward III's relations with his nobles. Bothwell is particularly strong in placing Edward III's reign in a long chronological context: comparison with the Angevin kings and the other Plantagenet kings recurs throughout the study, and the conclusion considers Edward III's "patronage policy" against that of his successors. A potentially profitable future direction for this topic could be to consider it in the wider context of all Edward III's dominions.

Bothwell's study of Edward III's distribution of patronage to the parliamentary peerage derived from his conviction that the standard reasons given by historians to explain why Edward III enjoyed remarkably harmonious relations with his nobility were insufficient. Bothwell's Edward III in consequence did not happen upon such happy relations through comradeship in war and companionability at home; he used the patronage resources at his command to shape and influence the parliamentary peerage, and did so at the least possible cost to the Crown. The resemblance of Bothwell's Edward to his (admittedly) much more tight-fisted grandfather certainly comes as something of a surprise. The conclusions which Bothwell reaches in his study will undoubtedly seem too bold to some; nevertheless, anyone interested in Edward III's relations with his nobility, or with the use of royal patronage in general, will have to consider Bothwell's findings that Edward III not only had a patronage policy, but that he was able to implement it too.