Royal prerogative gone astray : the social and economic impact of purveyance of the English peasantry at the beginning the Hundred Years' War /
by Ilana Chaya Krug.
230 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2006.
general note
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 67-07, Section: A, page: 2705.
With the ever-expanding scope of warfare in the late thirteenth and especially early fourteenth centuries, the problem of how to supply armies became acute. The English king Edward I claimed that the army was part of his extended household and was thus able to broaden to a military sphere the royal prerogative of purveyance, the existing system used by the English royalty to feed their traveling households. It was under Edward III, however, that the system reached maturity and was exploited to its full capability, particularly in the opening years of the Hundred Years' War, c. 1336--1342. This thesis focuses on this period for this very reason.Purveyance was not without its drawbacks, however. Although the system as conceived by the king was quite unobtrusive and harnessed the country's surplus resources effectively for multiple purposes, the reality was that there was sufficient room in the system for corruption. Indeed, the corruption of, rather than an implicit flaw in the procedure, made purveyance so hateful; the greatest detrimental economic effect of purveyance sprang directly from corrupt execution. The results from inquests of the period are corroborated by sentiments expressed in political poems and other literary sources. It was the deliberate corruption of the system by those trusted to ensure its proper performance that ired the populace.For the past forty years, scholars have dealt with the field of fourteenth-century English military history extensively, attempting to clarify such issues as organization and strategy. However, the phenomenon of purveyance has been touched merely peripherally in the context of overviews or summaries. Indeed, there is no definitive work on the topic, either recent or classic, and certainly none that attempts to indicate some greater significance to the practice beyond a simple description of its mechanism. This dissertation attempts to fill this gap in the scholarship, providing insight into the workings and broader implications of purveyance, as well as finally answering some important questions central to understanding the procedure and its socio-economic impact.Purveyance was inherently a practical and efficient solution to the dilemma of military supplying. The king would send agents throughout the country to buy up whatever victuals were needed with help from local sheriffs and bailiffs. Fairs and markets would be cancelled prior to a purveyance, ensuring a large surplus of items that could be purchased. Despite previous scholars' conclusions, evidence indicates that purveyors sought out wealthy members of the peasant community as contributors, rather than indiscriminately calling upon the poor, middling and rich. Likewise, as purveyance was a highly organized and bureaucratic system, evidence suggests that people normally were paid promptly without difficulty.
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