Monastic development and dissolution in Wales : Continuity or change for Uchelwyr? A case study of Strata Florida's Blaenaeron Grange.

Para, Heather (2021) Monastic development and dissolution in Wales : Continuity or change for Uchelwyr? A case study of Strata Florida's Blaenaeron Grange. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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This thesis addresses the question of what happened to monastic estates in Wales following the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1540, when the majority of former monastic land in Wales was absorbed into the estates of secular Welsh elites, or uchelwyr. The lens through which this broad topic is viewed is one of the granges of the Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida, namely Blaenaeron grange. Through this case study the thesis accomplishes two things: it identifies elements of continuity in land use and occupancy despite the change from monastic to secular lordship, and at the same time, determines the impact of that newly-acquired land on the social and political lives of the landowners. The effects of the Dissolution on former Welsh monastic land has not been studied in the same depth as for England. Yet Wales cannot be treated as a shadow of England. The dissolution occurred at the same time as the passage of the Acts of Union with Wales (1535-1542), making the period immediately post-dissolution a time of great change for Wales in more ways than one. It saw not only an availability of large swathes of former monastic land, but also changes in laws allowing native Welshmen more freedoms in landownership, society, and government. How these changes were felt by the uchelwyr, and the importance of these monastic lands in the processes of the changes, were previously left unaddressed. This thesis addresses two questions: was there continuity of land use from the pre-monastic period to post-dissolution, and how did the sudden availability of land for purchase in Wales coinciding with legal changes allowing native Welsh to purchase land impact on the Welsh elite class, or uchelwyr? Strata Florida’s grange of Blaenaeron was the case study selected for this research as there is a large body of documentary evidence for the grange post-dissolution through estate records, most notably the Trawscoed Estate records belonging to the Vaughan family, and government documents. Documentary evidence is supported by landscape clues found in place names, monuments, maps, and narrative histories, all of which are applied to the manorial template established in the Llyfr Iorwerth. What emerges through this material is the story of long family connections with their lands, and the application of previously established social and political connections to return the land to the control of the family. The Vaughan family of Trawscoed had obtained ownership of Blaenaeron grange in its entirety by 1630, nearly a hundred years after dissolution. However, their documented family associations with that land began as early as the thirteenth century. Estate records support Vaughan relationships with landholdings within Blaenaeron grange beginning with the earliest surviving records, offering a picture of multilevel continuity on the land. The Vaughan family’s pre-existing political and social standing appears to have aided in their 1630 land purchase, rather than the land purchase facilitating their rise in standing. All of this indicates a strong affiliation with family land in Wales leading to a determination to remain in place despite changes happening in the larger political and social spheres.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Monastic development, Wales Dissolution Uchelwyr Strata Florida
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Heather Lei Para
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 13:51
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 13:51

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