The period between the late tenth and late twelfth centuries saw many changes in the structure and composition of the European and English aristocracy. One of the most important is the growth in local power bases and patrimonies at the expense of wider property and kinship ties. In this volume, the author uses the organisation of aristocracy in East Anglia as a case study to explore the issue as a whole, considering the extent to which local families adopted national and European values, and investigating the role of local circumstances in the formulation of regional patterns and frameworks.
The book is interdisciplinary in approach, using anthropological, economic and prosopographical research to analyse themes such as marriage and kinship, social mobility, relations between secular and ecclesiastical lords and ethnic groups, and patterns of economic growth; there is a particular focus too on how different landscapes – fenland, upland, coastal and urban – affected the pattern of aristocratic experience. The study, moreover, draws upon neglected sources, such as the libri memoriales of the great East Anglian royal abbeys, not only to investigate the contexts of these texts, but also to put forward new perspectives, such as the role of commemoration in lineage formation.