Cover image for Tudor frontiers and noble power : the making of the British state
Tudor frontiers and noble power : the making of the British state
Ellis, Steven G., 1950-
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Publication Information:
Oxford : Clarendon Press ; Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1995.
Physical Description:
xxi, 303 pages : 5 maps ; 23 cm
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DA315 .E54 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This controversial book offers a novel perspective on Tudor government and British state formation. It argues that traditional studies focusing on lowland England as 'the normal context of government' exaggerate the regime's successes by marginalizing the borderlands. Frontiers were normalin early-modern Europe, however, and central to the problem of state formation. England's peripheries were more extensive than the core and provide the real yardstick by which the effectiveness of government can be measured.Ellis demonstrates their importance by means of a detailed comparative study of two marches - Cumbria and Ireland - and their ruling magnates. He demonstrates the flaws in early Tudor policy, characterized by long periods of neglect, interspersed with sporadic attempts to adapt, at minimal cost, acentralized administrative system geared to lowland England for the government of outlying regions which had very different social structures.Ellis analyses the 1534 crisis in crown-magnate relations, reassesses the resulting policy of centralization and uniformity, and identifies the central role of these developments in establishing a British pattern of state formation.

Author Notes

Ellis is author of: Tudor Ireland: Crown, Community and the Conflict of Cultures 1470-1603 (Longman 1985, reprinted 1987. 1992, 1993, 398 pages), and Reform and Revival: English Government in Ireland, 1470-1534 (The Royal Historical Society; the Boydell Press, Woodbridge; St. Martin's PRess,New York, 1986, 269 pages).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Ellis has written an important comparative study of the administration of the borderlands from 1485-1540, focusing on the earls of Kildare in Ireland and the Lords Dacre in northern England. He chides English historians for concentrating on southern, lowland England, arguing that a complete account of the Tudor regime must give equal treatment to non-English territories. Ellis contends that by reducing financial and military support to the borders, Henry VII, and especially Henry VIII, forced the earls of Kildare and the Lords Dacre to build up powerful local affinities in order to defend the frontiers against the Gaelic Irish and the Scots. This in turn threatened Tudor government and led to a crisis in 1534, in which the 9th earl was executed for treason, while William, Lord Dacre, was heavily fined and removed from office. Ellis also maintains that this forced the central government to pay more attention to peripheral territories and was an important step in the formation of the later multinational British state. Although profoundly scholarly, this book should be accessible and interesting even to general readers. W. B. Robison III; Southeastern Louisiana University

Table of Contents

Note on punctuation, coinage, and datesp. xvi
List of mapsp. xvii
List of abbreviationsp. xviii
Part I The Problem of the Marches
Introduction: The Tudor borderlands in contextp. 3
1. The origins of the early-Tudor problemp. 18
2. Early-Tudor policy and perceptionsp. 46
Part II Noble Power and Border Rule
3. The estates and connexion of Lord Dacre of the Northp. 81
4. The estates and connexion of the earl of Kildarep. 107
5. The Dacre ascendancy in the far northp. 146
Part III The Crisis of 1534
6. The origins of the crisisp. 173
7. Confrontation: the Irish campaign of 1534-1535 and its consequencesp. 207
8. Submission and survival: Dacre fortunes in Henry VIII's later yearsp. 233
Conclusion: Tudor government and the transformation of the Tudor statep. 251
Bibliographyp. 273
Indexp. 287