The Medieval ‘Marches’ of Normandy and Wales

The Medieval ‘Marches’ of Normandy and Wales

Lieberman, Max (University of Zurich)

English Historical Review, Vol. CXXV No. 517, November 9, (2010)


To modern-day historians, the March of Wales consists of the lordships of eastern and southern Wales which were gradually carved out by Norman and English barons from c. 1067 on, which after the conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1282–3 remained separate from the Principality of Wales, and which were incorporated into Welsh shires by the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1542. Also included in this March are certain border lordships which were withdrawn from the English counties, that is, where lords succeeded in preventing intrusions by royal officials.2 But did the ‘March’ referred to in Magna Carta correspond to this modern historiographical category? This article will argue that in fact, the conquest lordships in southern Wales were not routinely considered to lie in the March of Wales until after the Edwardian conquest. It will contend that this was because during the high medieval period, the Welsh borders were not, overall, considered to be sui generis, but similar to at least one other ‘march’ faced by the Normans and the Angevins: the ‘march’ of Normandy.

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