The household of James IV, 1488-1513

Hepburn, William Rendall (2013) The household of James IV, 1488-1513. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis examines the household of James IV and the people within it. It is the first dedicated study of the royal household in this reign, which contemporaries and historians agree was a high water mark for the Scottish court. Chapter 1 explores the historiography of the court in the fifteenth and sixteenth century and the distinction between the terms ‘court’ and ‘household’. The household was defined by the rules and structures it brought to the world of the court, and those people who served and received rewards according to them, whereas the court was defined as the space around the king and those who occupied it. Chapter 2 considers the forms of structure that the household brought to the court in more detail. The household had two main definitions. In its wider form, expressed by the bill of household from 1508, it encompassed any man of the social standing of gentleman or above, all of whom were theoretically entitled to the king’s hospitality at court, as well as a long list of specified officers, servants and individuals sorted into groups which included the king’s council, chapel royal and officers of arms. Across these definitions and sub-divisions, the household was also ordered according to hierarchy, and this ordering both respected forms of hierarchy in society more broadly, whilst offering opportunities to rise in status, at least in the environment of the court, through household service.

Chapter 3 compares this blueprint of the household to the evidence for actual attendance and service at court by members of the household. It shows that the bill of household reflected those who were at court on or near the time it was written, but that the frequency and duration of their attendance varied according to seasons and events, and on a day-to-day basis because of the itinerant movements of the court. It also suggests that household officers operated within broadly defined areas, and that the area they operated in was not necessarily dictated by the office they held. Chapter 4 shows that there was more to life at court for members of the household than just providing service to the king. Members of the household were differentiated by the variety of rewards they could receive, and they could seek advantage for members of their family. The court was also a centre for events that promoted social integration whilst maintaining hierarchical divisions. Chapter 5 looks at some of the ways the household had an effect on the world beyond the physical confines of the court. The wider impact of the household, or, at least, the idea of the household, can be detected in the rental of royal lands and the holding of non-household offices by members of the household, as well as the use of language in documents in the Register of the Great Seal, which also shows how an individual could be associated with the household without being formally attached to it.The household, then, gave structure to, and its members were physically at the core of, the court of James IV, and it provided a framework for day-to-day interaction outside of the formal business of institutions of government such as parliament, council and exchequer. It was an influence on the lives of its members both inside and outside the court.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: James IV, fifteenth century, sixteenth century, royal court, royal household, Scotland
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Small, Professor Graeme
Date of Award: 2013
Embargo Date: 13 October 2023
Depositing User: Dr William R Hepburn
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-5249
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2014 14:02
Last Modified: 27 May 2020 11:37

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