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Problems with medieval Welsh local administration – the case of the maenor and the maenol

Problems with medieval Welsh local administration – the case of the maenor and the maenol

By Rhys A. Jones

Journal of Historical Geography, Vol.24:2 (1998)

Abstract: Medieval Europe witnessed a major institutional change as societies moved from being ordered around notions of kinship to being organized around the power exercised by kings over defined territories. Territorial units of administration were part and parcel of this state-making process. Two such administrative units which have been discussed at length in a Welsh context are the maenor and the maenol, the basis for Glanville Jones’ multiple estate. It is argued in this paper that these units are better understood as attempts to territorialize power in medieval Wales. The maenor’s emphasis on the delineation of the territorial extent of groups of people suggests that it was an immature example of this process. The maenol, on the other hand, was an attempt by the rulers of Gwynedd to define territorially all political space. As such, it can be described as a mature administrative unit of an early state which was based firmly on notions of territorialized power. Viewing these two units in the context of the state-making process demonstrates that they were two different institutions and not a variation on a common theme, as has been generally maintained.

Click here to read this article from the Journal of Historical Geography

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