Sign up ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There is a very interesting article on wikipedia on Welsh Law. Though it defines the structure of the Court in Wales in the late medieval period, it says nothing of the status of other nobles and notable personages compared to those in the king's household.

In addition to that I read that both Ireland and Wales consisted (pre-Normanisation) of petty kingdoms. What was the way these kingdoms worked? Did they have a common social structure and laws? Were they classic fiefdoms with the king appointing the power to the Nobles and they in turn to other minor ones? Was there a reason why these two nations have so much in common (common ancestry maybe?) or is it far-fetched to even propose that. Even their laws seem to have been of the same philosophy.

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by Kobunite, Tom Au, CGCampbell, Pieter Geerkens, Semaphore Aug 6 at 8:16

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Common descent, certainly: – Felix Goldberg Jun 26 '13 at 8:51
I took the liberty to retag a bit... – Felix Goldberg Jun 26 '13 at 8:57
What is the question? Could you update the title to be a question to clarify what it is you want to know? The second paragraph contains a lot of very very broad questions, and I'm not sure where to start research. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 5 at 12:05

1 Answer 1

The modern conception of kingdoms is viewed as synonymous with the nation/state - i.e. Great Britain or Spain or Sweden. A kingdom could be viewed as a unit of sovereign law - thus if I run things on some island and the island is not otherwise 'possessed' by another country then I am 'king'.

Migratory tribes tend to have leaders responsible for making rules and settling disputes, the term we usually use today are 'chieftains' such as for American Indians or the Irish. If a tribe occupies and claims a fixed territory then it becomes a 'kingdom'. In such a circumstance the king becomes responsible for law, dispute resolution, and defense. Often such kingdoms formed alliances with other kingdoms for common defense, but over time the strongest of these tended to take over neighboring territories, and the 'kings' of these subordinate territories became lesser ranked nobles. This is what we see coming out of the Middle Ages, such as when the Tudor family assumed control of England.

At some point the combination of sovereign kingdoms into a greater whole creates an 'empire'. Thus we have a Japanese empire that was the assimilation of various sovereign families that controlled distinct regions within Japan. Often a kingdom in the early middle ages might control an area that we would currently describe as a 'county' - just large enough to see the borders from a central fort or castle.

share|improve this answer
This is a decent general disquisition on government - but how does it answer the very specific question on Wales and Ireland? – Felix Goldberg Jun 26 '13 at 21:31
Indeed it is very intresting, but the question was about the structure of the Goverment of Wales and Ireland while they consisted of petty kingdoms. In this case it was for many years (near 300 for Ireland) that no kingdom ascertained control over the others. – Athanasios Kataras Jun 28 '13 at 12:10
@Felix - it doesn't answer the specific question. It puts the topic in a larger context. Other responses will hopefully fill in more details. – Meredith Poor Jun 28 '13 at 19:26

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.