One of the most important problems facing English monarchs in the 14th century was relations with the nobility -- a group of about twenty men of the rank of earl and above. In 1327, a party of nobles deposed and imprisoned Edward II; in 1399, another group deposed Richard II and the leader of the "revolutionary" party then put himself on the throne.
These magnates, who were the largest landowners in England, the country's leaders in time of war, and the focus of the ambitions of lesser titled men, expected the king to pay attention to their interests. At the same time, as the fount of honor, the king had power, too. In 1337, Edward III set out to deliberately enlarge to nobility by raising the four senior members of his household -- whose support he could expect to retain -- to the earldoms of Huntingdon, Northampton, Salisbury, and Suffolk.
Tuck examines the role of the titled nobility in the king's councils, the decline of aristocratic influence in the 1380s and the parallel development of hostility toward the king, and the eventual overthrow of Richard's "tyranny."