Transnational lordship in the thirteenth-century Irish Sea region: who, what, where, when, and why? In the thirteenth century, England’s kings ruled an empire that stretched across Britain, Ireland, and France. This empire was sustained by a web of transnational lords – that is, lords who held lordships in multiple regions – connecting the peripheries of the empire to the core in England. Over the last number of decades, studies of transnational lordship have begun to attract the attention of scholars. This framework has found a welcome environment in medieval Britain and Ireland, though the historiography is still in its infancy. One of the most important figures in this transmarine nexus of power was William Marshal (†1219). For many historians, William Marshal has been epitomised as ‘England’s greatest knight’, crafting a career from humble origins that included stellar wealth and political power and culminated in his regency of England. In the Anglo-French sphere, the Marshal’s reputation was as the paragon of chivalry, but it is equally important that he was also lord of Leinster in Ireland and earl of Pembroke in Wales. The power of the Marshal family in the Plantagenet ‘peripheries’ – that is, Ireland and Wales – made their support vital for the king of England, in turn leading to further royal patronage. Hence, the Marshal family was able to manipulate the delicate core-periphery structure of power in the Plantagenet empire to accumulate a vast property portfolio that reached across England, Ireland, Normandy, and Wales. Overall, this paper explores the who, what, where, when, and why of transnational lordship, analysing how it manifested itself in contemporary society and why it is important for historians. Hence, this paper can contribute to wider studies of empire and networks of power.
I am a fourth year PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin, and also one of the RHS Centenary Fellows at the IHR for 2023 until 2024. My research analyses transnational lordship and politics in thirteenth-century Britain and Ireland. John’s thesis focuses on the Marshal earls of Pembroke and lords of Leinster, in particular how their influence on the ‘peripheries’ of the Plantagenet empire in Ireland and Wales brought them influence and patronage at the core. I have published on aspects of my research in History: The Journal of the Historical Association (108:382) and Irish Historical Studies (2023).
This session will now take place on 11 January 2024.
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