Land litigation in the Narrative of Robert Pylkington (Before 1477 — After 1501)
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Land litigation in the Narrative of Robert Pylkington (Before 1477 — After 1501)
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Elena Braun 
Affiliation: Russian State University for the Humanities
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

The purpose of this article is to reconstruct one of the facets of Derbyshire gentry’s worldview. The author analyzes, what 15th century’s gentry thought about the boundaries of permissible and unacceptable in land litigations. The main source is extremely interesting and little-known text, a book in which Robert Pilkington describes the decades-long land dispute between him and the Aynesworth family. The analysis showed that in defending their rights, gentry often went beyond the law. They could to summon several hundred “men in hernes”, seized or damaged disputed property, drove tenants from the land, and even tried to kill their opponents. And yet, as soon as the conflict went beyond what was allowed, the gentry community found a tendency to self-regulation. The “friends” of the opponents intervened to give their allies the necessary support, neither side gained a decisive advantage, and the conflict returned to the legal channel. The boundaries of the permissible were outlined clearly. It was normal methods were: demonstration of military power, psychological pressure and cattle rustling. The seizure of the disputed land was a possible scenario. Finally, anything that harmed the health, liberty, property of the opponent or any other person involved in the litigation was considered unworthy and unacceptable.

Narrative of Robert Pylkington, 15th century’s gentry, land disputes, the age of the Wars of the Roses
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