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Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, 1190-1610 : Custom and Conflict in a Baronial Town (Paperback) (Adrian Empey)
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While much historical research has been invested in Ireland's major cities, remarkably little attention has been given to the study of less important boroughs founded by tenants of the great lords. While in many cases, the record trail is too thin to proceed very far, the town of Gowran, County Kilkenny is well served in this respect, thanks to its connection to the aristocratic Ormond family. The knowledge of Anglo-Norman Ireland is derived from a wide spectrum of written records: charters, legal records, and financial records, to name a few. While these are fundamental to knowledge of feudal society, they seldom throw light on the customary law that governed the lives of entire classes of tenants through the medium of urban and manorial courts. Every town and manor had its own customs, which were sourced in the collective memory and seldom committed to writing, except in the rare instances when custom was disputed. The start of the 17th century saw the beginning of a long drawn-out conflict between the townsmen of Gowran and the earl of Ormond, a conflict which is particularly interesting in the context of custom and community. This study looks at the conflict by exploring the nature of the original settlement in the late 12th century, the place of the town in relation to both the manor and the lordship of Gowran, including its institutions and society.