Conflict between the town and county of Bristol and the liberty of St Augustine's Abbey was largely the consequence of the failure of the county's founding charter of 1373 to recognize the separate existence of the liberty. In 1496 a confrontation between the abbey and the town resulted in an appeal to Council, and the production of The Great White Book, to record the evidence collected for the hearing. This allows both a reconstruction of the 1496 conflict and its precursors, and an interpretation of the Bristol political elite's rhetorical exploitation both of the conflict itself and of its representation.
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