Bastard Feudalism, English Society and the Law: The Statutes of Livery, c. 1390 to c. 1520.

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Regulation of the distribution of liveries and the practice of retaining, which underpinned the so-called system of bastard feudalism in late medieval England, are the subject of this book. Rather than relying primarily on the records of noble estates, as much previous scholarship has done, it draws on the records of the court of King's Bench, covering all 336 known cases of illegal livery and retaining over 130 years.

The author examines the political events and legal processes surrounding illegal livery, by exploring the nature of the legislation and its enforcement, particularly the relationship between law-making in parliament and law-enforcement in the localities. The wider social and cultural contexts in which the statutes operated are also investigated, along with the legal processes and outcomes of the cases. Finally, the book considers the importance of retaining in the numerous acts of magnate violence during the fifteenth century, how they shaped the Wars of the Roses and the ways in which Henry VII accepted most noble retaining, save the most extreme cases.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWoodbridge
Number of pages261
ISBN (Electronic)9781787446656
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • 2020

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