This thesis examines the role of place and the landscape in the construction and expression of gentry identity in late medieval Leicestershire. Land has been said to be the gentry’s most prized possession, and the myriad ways in which the gentry have influenced the landscape have received substantial attention, particularly in an architectural and recreational context. But the multi-faceted influence of the gentry’s lands on their identity, especially in the broader context of place, remains to be explored. The thesis addresses this lacuna through an innovative interrogation of litigation records, probate records and the inquisitions post mortem amongst others using digital visualisation and analysis. It considers the different approaches that can be taken to resolve the neglect of place in gentry studies. During this historical period of transition and development, ancestral and economic ties preserved and encouraged inter-generational gentry interests in the places occupied by them, and propelled gentry interaction and behaviour where they overlapped. The thesis offers a reconstruction of the Leicestershire gentry’s landscape, comprising territorial extents and changing land use during the period. Together, this evidence shows that the relationship between the gentry and place was carefully cultivated throughout the gentry’s lives, and culminated in their final statement in death. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that the gentry’s affinity with and interpretation of the world around them shaped who they were, who they wanted society to think they were, and who they believed themselves to be.
Bridger, Katie L., “Place, Landscape And Gentry Identity In Late Medieval Leicestershire, C.1460-1560,” Centre for English Local History Theses and Papers, accessed April 8, 2020, https://elhleics.omeka.net/items/show/148.