Alternate Author Name(s)

Charlotte Ann Newman

Document Type


Date of Award



History of Great Britain (1066-1687), Henry I

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robin S. Oggins

Second Advisor

Joel T. Rosenthal

Third Advisor

Bert W. Hansen


This dissertation is a prosopographical study of the Anglo-Norman nobility in the first half of the twelfth century. By the twelfth century, the status, wealth and power of this class had come to be based more on the inheritance of position than on an individual’s military or administrative function. In order to expand his administration and to guarantee a supply of loyal administrators, Henry I used his favor to reward lower nobles and “new men,” thus creating a new method of entrance to or of mobility within the noble class. The extent to which Henry I’s favor affected the nobles as a class had not previously been fully examined.

In an attempt to gather all extant information about the individual nobles, approximately 250 families have been identified and categorized as to their status and wealth. The study begins with a general examination of the life style of the class, especially the various sources of income and expenditure. Following is a study of the various ways of gaining types of royal favor (court attendance, office holding, exemptions from various assessments, land and marriage grants) and how these were distributed among and/or sought by various categories of nobles. Also discussed are the questions of how the nobles extended their wealth through means of other than royal favor and what their behavior and fortunes were after Henry died. Finally comes a discussion of how well the status was maintained by those families which benefited the most from Henry I’s favor by following their descendants into Henry II’s reign.

The conclusions are not startling. Henry I was a master politician who was able to distribute favor and retain control over it while alienating only a few individuals. His favor created new opportunities but did not substantially alter the composition of the class. Once the “new men” rose in status, they patterned their lives through older, feudal lines, never creating a new sub-class through their behavior. Few families who rose from very low status retained their fortunes although service families of lower noble rank often did. The crucial elements in determining the success of a family appear to have been the land and ties gained through marriage and the production of adult male heirs who would continue to fight for their status or would continue to serve the king and gain from such service.