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3 - England in the Thirteenth Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 August 2023

Peter Cane
Affiliation:
Christ's College, Cambridge and Australian National University
H. Kumarasingham
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
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Summary

The thirteenth-century kingdom of England was a political, jurisdictional and administrative unit consisting of thirty-nine contiguous counties which the Norman and Angevin kings of England had in large part inherited from their Anglo-Saxon predecessors – although two of those counties (Cheshire and Durham) had by the thirteenth century come to enjoy an enhanced degree of autonomy, which for many, if not all, purposes placed them outside direct royal control. The kings of England also possessed a limited degree of control over the marcher lordships of Wales which had been conquered from native Welsh rulers by ‘English’ lords and constituted a barrier between England and the kingdoms of Wales. The rest of Wales remained under the control of native Welsh rulers until Edward I in successive campaigns in the 1270s and 1280s destroyed the last remaining native princes and their independence. He did not annex the conquered Welsh lands to the kingdom of England or dispossess all the conquered Welsh, but he established a separate principality of Wales in the north and west of Wales under English control and in 1301 the king’s eldest son became ‘prince’ of Wales. Edward also imposed a version of English law and of the English local administrative system on this area through the Statute of Wales of 1284.1

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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