Politics, policy and power : the Marcher lords and the English crown in the March of Wales, 1254-1272 / Alastair Iain Ayton

  • Alastair Iain Ayton

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis is a study of Marcher lords between 1254 and 1272. Those studied include: the Bigod earls of Norfolk; the de Clare earls of Gloucester and Hertford; the de Bohun earls of Hereford and Essex; the Mortimer lords of Wigmore; and William de Valence, the newly appointed lord of Pembroke. This thesis provides an original assessment of their respective lordships, focusing primarily on their landholdings within the March and English border shires (Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire), highlighting the importance of these estates in shaping their overall position as political elites. It assesses the extent to which their territorial concerns determined their contribution to events within the March and England during a period of widespread volatility. The nexus of their respective lands, tenants and followers is considered, as are the different patterns of patronage and networks of power pertinent to each Marcher lord.

This research also draws on original evidence to highlight the increased involvement of the English crown in the March before, during, and after the Second Barons’ War (1264-1267). It highlights the creation of both the Lord Edward and the Lord Edmund as Marcher lords of the first rank, albeit with different rights and obligations, as part of a wider impetus to consolidate and protect the crown’s estates in Wales. Their interactions with the Marcher lords and the shifting fortunes of their careers are analysed alongside their fellow Marchers’ own respective allegiances to the crown, to provide a more comprehensive study of the nature and extent of Marcher lordship. The main aim here is to highlight the increased and evolving role of the crown in the March in the late Thirteenth Century, and to demonstrate the extent to which developments in the March were interwoven with events in England.

Overall, this thesis contributes to studies concerned with borderlands. It does this because of the understanding that in studying a society’s peripheries alongside its centre, the outer fringes of its border zones alongside its localities, a better understanding of that society is achieved. This thesis therefore ultimately provides an original contribution to several other historiographies, namely those of Medieval Wales, the Welsh March, thirteenth-century England and aristocratic society, and to studies of medieval noble identity more broadly.
Date of Award1 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorMichael Hunter Brown (Supervisor)


  • Marcher lords
  • Medieval Wales
  • Second Barons' War
  • Henry III
  • March of Wales
  • Welsh Marches
  • Royal government
  • Duchy of Lacaster
  • Lord Edward
  • Lord Edmund
  • Simon de Montfort
  • Baronial reforms
  • Medieval kingship
  • Medieval lordship
  • Thirteenth century
  • Medieval English earldoms

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 29th September 2023

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