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Welsh History Review


Vol. 9, nos. 1-4 1978-79

Lordship and society in the march of Wales, 1282-1400 : Book review.

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125, 177, though cf. 34, 158, 307) and about the significance of incorpora-
tion (pp. 92-3). Corporate liberties in general look more meagre by
English standards than some of the contributors allow. In some cases
rather optimistic judgements (pp. 78, 102; and cf. 34, 144, 158) may be
influenced by the belief that the bestowal of the customs and liberties of
another town means a comparable degree of corporate independence.
The broadening of interest beyond the constitutional and legal pre-
occupations of older municipal histories produces interesting passages on
at least one subject of current debate-the late medieval economy.
Examples of apparent prosperity in the fifteenth century slightly out-
number those of apparent decline, though the force of the evidence varies
a good deal. Mr. Williams-Jones provides a particularly interesting
discussion on this point, as he does on the subject of Welsh-English
relations within the town. Is it however accurate to describe the Welsh
and English as separate races? The division was surely primarily political
and cultural, rather than genetic.
Boroughs of Mediaeval Wales has blazed the trail for a new school of
medieval urban history in Wales. Following on, its successors may be
able to be more rigorously systematic and analytical than it, as a pioneer,
could be. It is a measure of its achievement that it whets one's appetite
for more.
Lady Margaret Hall,
Davies. Clarendon Press: Oxford University Press. 1978. Pp. xvi, 512.
£ 15.
Not since the publication in 1962 of Professor Glanmor Williams's
study of the Welsh church in the later middle ages has so important a
book appeared on medieval Wales as Professor Rees Davies's masterly
examination of Welsh marcher lordship and society. In some respects,
indeed, the two books are complementary and Dr. Davies understandably
devotes little space to the role in marcher society of either the clergy or
the institutions of the church. What he does give us is nearly 300 pages
of description, analysis and assessment of lordship (seignory, dominium)
on the March, followed by 169 pages on the social structure and com-
position of the communities, Welsh, English and mixed, rural and burghal,
inhabiting the region which stretches in a great arc round the southern
and western sides of Wales from Pembroke to Dyffryn Clwyd and
Denbigh. Although his chosen period of study runs from the Edwardian
conquest to the end of the fourteenth century, Dr. Davies has some
important things to say about marcher origins, looking back occasionally
to the late-eleventh century, while towards the end of his book, partic-
ularly in the stimulating Epilogue, he carries the story forward to the
momentous changes in Welsh and marcher society which took effect
between the mid-fifteenth century and the somewhat misnamed 'Act of
Union' of 1536. The volume is finely produced. Misprints are few,
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