They wasted the next few years in the attempt to win Normandy; but Earl Robert of Gloucester, the half-brother of the empress, at length induced her to visit England and raise her standard in the western shires, where his influence was supreme.
It consisted, in addition to the king, his sons and other relatives, of the bishops and later some abbots, of some under-kings and the ealdormen of the shires or provinces, and of a number of ministri, or king's thegns.
The Welsh mines are chiefly in Flint, Cardigan and Montgomery shires; the Scottish in Dumfries, Lanark and Argyll; and the Irish in Wicklow, Waterford and Down.
The great earldoms of the West-Saxon period were allowed to lapse; the new earls, for the most part closely connected with William by the ties of blood or friendship, were lords of single shires; and only on the marches of the kingdom was the whole of the royal jurisdiction delegated to such feudatories.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Kent comprised sixty hundreds, and there was a further division into six lests, probably representing the shires of the ancient kingdom, of which two, Sutton and Aylesford, correspond with the present-day lathes.
In the Domes day Survey only five lay tenants-in-chief are mentioned, all the chief estates being held by the church, and the fact that the Kentish gentry are less ancient than in some remoter shires is further explained by the constant implantation of new stocks from London.
The second volume, published in 1810, gives an account of the seven southeastern counties of Scotland - Roxburgh, Berwick, Haddington, Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Peebles and Selkirk - each of them being treated of as regards name, situation and extent, natural objects, antiquities, establishment as shires, civil history, agriculture, manufactures and trade, and ecclesiastical history.
Already in 1201 he was chamberlain to King John, the sheriff of three shires, the constable of Dover and Windsor castles, the warden of the Cinque Ports and of the Welsh Marches.
Richard on his accession confirmed John's existing possessions; married him to Isabella of Gloucester; and gave him, besides other grants, the entire revenues of six English shires; but excluded him from any share in the regency which was appointed to govern England during the third crusade; and only allowed him to live in the kingdom because urged to this concession by their mother.
To this category belong the shires of Wessex (Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, &c.), each of which had an earl (aldormon, princeps, dux) of its own, at all events from the 8th century onwards.
This is the one grain of truth in the legend that Alfred was the inventor of shires, hundreds and tithings.
But the sameness is relieved along the western coast of the shires of Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty by groups of cones and stacks, and farther south by the terraced plateaus and abru p t conical hills of Skye, Rum and Mull.
Farther to the south-west, in the shires of Perth, Inverness and Argyll, they give place to the ordinary hummocky crested ridges of Highland scenery, which, however, in Ben Nevis and Aonach Beg reach a height of over 4000 ft.
(For the chief rivers see the separate articles on them, and also the section on the physical features in the article on the different shires of Scotland.) The topography of the country being the result of prolonged denudation, it is reasonable to infer that the oldest surfaces likely to be preserved are portions of some of the platforms of erosion successively established by the wearing down of the land to the sea-level.
The most impressive form of solitary cone is that wherein after vast denudation a thick overlying formation has been reduced to a single outlier, such as Morven in Caithness, the two Bens Griam in Sutherland, and still more strikingly, the pyramids of red sandstone on the western margin of the shires of Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty.
Dispersed over all parts of the western Highlands, they are most numerous in the north-west, especially in the Outer Hebrides and in the west of the shires of Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland, where the surface of the Archean gneiss is so thickly sprinkled with them that many tracts consist nearly as much of water as of land.
Above the Archean gneiss lies a series of red and chocolate-coloured sandstone (Torridon sandstone), which form a number of detached areas from Cape Wrath down the seaboard of the shires of Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty, across Skye, and as far as the island of Rum.
The rocks overlying them to the east of the line of disturbance in the shires of Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty are fine flaggy schists.
After 1841, however, the population in several Highland shires-in which the clearance of crofters to make way for deer was one of the most strongly-felt grievances among the Celtic part of the people-in the islands, and in some of the southern counties, diminished.
The counties in which the highest percentages of illegitimate births were found were Wigtown, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Peebles in the south; Elgin, Banff and Aberdeen in the north-east, and Caithness in the north; the shires showing the lowest percentages were Clackmannan, Dumbarton and Shetland.
The chief areas for tree and small fruit are Clydesdale and the Carse of Gowrie, but there are also productive orchards in the shires of Haddington, Stirling, Ayr and Roxburgh, while market-gardening has developed in the neighbourhood of the larger towns.
Fox-hunting is fashionable in most of the southern shires, but otter-hunting is practically extinct.
Sandstone, of which the total production in 1905 was 1,142,135 tons valued at £320,761, is quarried in nearly every county, but the industry flourishes particularly in the shires of Lanark, Dumfries, Ayr and Forfar.
The vice-comes, or sheriff, as the king's direct representative, was the centre of justice for shires, and his judicature tended to encroach on that of noble holders of courts.
Bruce had but five hundred horse, under Keith the Marischal; Douglas led the levies of his own district and Ettrick Forest; Randolph commanded the men of Moray; Walter Steward, those of the south-western shires; and Angus Og brought to the Scottish standard the light-footed men of the Isles, and, probably, of Lochaber, Moidart, and the western coast in general.
The southern shires of Scotland with their castles: he had already done homage for the whole of Scotland; and Edward III.
Middleton, with Archbishop Sharp, misgoverned the country, established a high court of commission, exiled the fiercest preachers to Holland, whence they worked endless mischief by agitation and a war of pamphlets; irritated the Covenanting shires, Fife and the south-west, by quartering troops on them to exact fines for Nonconformity, and so caused, during a war with Holland, the Pentland Rising (November 1666).
Packs of foxhounds vary, from large establishments in the "Shires," the meets of which are attended by hundreds of horsemen, some of whom keep large stables of hunters in constant work - for though a man at Melton, for instance, may see a great deal of sport with half-a-dozen well-seasoned animals, the number is not sufficient if he is anxious to be at all times well mounted - to small kennels in the north of England, where the field follow on foot.
The "Shires" is a recognized term, but is nevertheless somewhat vague.
Several packs which hunt within these limits are not supposed, however, to belong to the "Shires," whereas a district of the Belvoir country is in Lincolnshire, and to hunt with the Belvoir is certainly understood to be hunting in the "Shires."
A man may see some sport on an animal that cost him £40; others may consider it necessary to keep an expensive establishment at Melton Mowbray or elsewhere in the Shires, with a dozen or more 500-guinea hunters, some covert-hacks, and a corresponding staff of servants.
As a Cinque Port, Dover (Dofra, Dovorra) had to contribute twenty of the quota of ships furnished by those ports; in return for this service a charter of liberties was granted to the ports by Edward the Confessor, making the townsmen quit of shires and hundreds, with the right to be impleaded only at Shepway, and other privileges, which were confirmed by subsequent kings, with additions, down to James II.
Before the union of the shires of Ross and Cromarty, it was the county town of Cromartyshire, and is one of the Wick district group of parliamentary burghs.
The four Welsh sees, however, extend beyond the borders of the twelve counties, for they include the whole of Monmouthshire and some portions of the English border shires; on the other hand, the sees of Hereford and Chester encroach upon the existing Welsh counties.
At the same time the remaining lordships were added to the English border counties of Gloucester, Shropshire and Hereford, and also to the existing Welsh shires of Cardigan, Carmarthen, Glamorgan and Pembroke, all of which found their boundaries considerably enlarged under this statute.