|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
men and women. Coss shows that the gentry household was a literate community, within a literate local world, and he studies closely the consumption of literature, paying particular attention to household entertainment. Beyond their households, then gentry could assert their pre-eminence in the local community through involvement with the Church and the management of their estates. Treating the relationship between gentry and Church in both devotional and institutional terms, Coss shows how religious practice was a
means for the gentry to assert social dominance, and they increasingly treated the Church as a career path for their kin. Protecting their estates was of similar importance, and legal expertise was highly prized-it consequently provided a major means of entry into the gentry, as well as offering
further opportunities for younger sons. Overall, Coss reveals that the cultural horizons of the gentry were essentially local. Nevertheless there were wider dimensions, and the book concludes with observations on how national and chivalric concerns interacted with the rhythms of regional life.