Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




J.D. Alsop




This thesis investigates the response on the part of the government of early modern England to a new social problem. In the late sixteenth century large numbers of disabled ex-servicemen were returning to an England in which they could no longer rely on traditional patrons and methods of relief for charity. The Privy Council's reaction to this phenomenon, from its initial response of moral suasion and the use of the royal prerogative to its ultimate response - sponsoring and attempting to enforce legislation, is examined for the period 1558-1625.

Unlike other poor relief legislation the relief of maimed veterans in this period has received no comprehensive treatment by historians. This study contributes to an enhanced understanding of poverty and poor relief measures. It sheds light on the social dynamics of the period, particularly what the Privy Council and soldiers perceived as the proper functioning of the social order. In addition, our grasp of the Council's role in the development and administration of social policy is improved. This examination of the Privy Council's involvement in the relief of disabled soldiers also illuminates the nature of its political relations with Parliament, and, more significantly, with local county authorities.

The study of the origins of legislated veteran's benefits is an important step towards a more comprehensive discussion of the relatively overlooked social and political impact of demobilization on early modern England.

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