This introductory chapter begins by setting out the purpose of the book, which is to show how the English gentry was formed in an accelerating process from the latter half of the 13th century to the middle decades of the 14th. Emphasis is placed upon two analytically separated but interconnected phenomena: the development of a partnership in governance between the state and the lesser nobility on the one hand, and on the other the internal dynamics within the lesser nobility itself which led to the crystallization of a graded and relatively stable gentry. It then presents an overview of the various aspects of gentry life.
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