Cornwall has long stood out as one of the least understood corners of Britain. The peninsula appeared simultaneously both detached and yet integrated, with these dual aspects of the county seemingly contradictory. This thesis seeks to reconcile late medieval Cornish distinctiveness with the peninsula’s integration. At every point the county emerges as idiosyncratic, with a powerful body of Cornish proprietors dominating its affairs and a potent lordship fused with the structures of the shire. Myths, saints, government, and lordship all endowed the notion of Cornwall with authority in the minds of its inhabitants, forging its people into a commonalty. Contemporaries even believed that Cornwall had existed ‘since the time of King Arthur’. Yet Cornwall and its residents also depended on their place in the realm, with the Cornish simultaneously viewing their county as ‘a schere of Engelond’. Consideration is therefore given to the influence exercised by comital, ducal, and regnal lordship in Cornwall, with emphasis placed on the way in which the earldom-duchy and Crown together rendered the politics of the county part and parcel of those of the wider realm. Attention is then directed away from Cornwall as defined by its boundaries to consider the social and geographic mobility of the county’s inhabitants, analysing connectivity between Cornwall and the wider realm. A multitude of Cornishmen and women were drawn beyond the Tamar by the needs of the Crown, warfare, lordship, commerce, the law, and the Church. By the fourteenth century the Cornish had become interwoven into pan-English networks of communication and movement, contributing to every sphere of the kingdom’s collective life. Indeed, the county and the kingdom emerge as interdependent, with Cornwall holding an integral place in the realm while remaining strikingly distinctive.
|1 Dec 2017
|Unpublished - 20 Nov 2017