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The Foundations of Gentry LifeThe Multons of Frampton and their World 1270-1370$
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Peter Coss

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199560004

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199560004.001.0001

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The Culture of the Cartulary

The Culture of the Cartulary

The Gentry Family and the Protection of Estates

Chapter:
(p.185) 10 The Culture of the Cartulary
Source:
The Foundations of Gentry Life
Author(s):

Peter Coss (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199560004.003.0010

The gentry were acutely law-minded. This was as true in the late 13th and early 14th centuries as ever it was to be later. At the heart of this law-mindedness was the need and the determination to protect their estates; perhaps one should say to protect their family and their estates, for in their thinking the two were essentially interchangeable. Protection has, of course, a purely physical dimension, and there can hardly have been a secular lord who would not have subscribed to the ethic of the strong, sword-bearing right arm in defence of one's rights. However, as historians have come to recognize, the real knee-jerk reaction if one's property was threatened was to the law, principally and increasingly throughout the 13th century and beyond to the courts of the English common law. It is a truism that this was a litigious age and that the gentry were litigious by predilection. Their law-mindedness, however, became so much a part of gentry behaviour as to be more than just a propensity to seek out writs and legal remedies. Rather it became deeply rooted in gentry culture itself. This aspect of gentry culture has a series of interlocking dimensions and an examination of these will be the subject of this chapter.

Keywords:   English gentry, gentry life, law-mindedness, protection of estates, gentry culture

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