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Cinque Ports

Cinque Ports (sĬngk) [O. Fr.,=five ports], name applied to an association of maritime towns in Sussex and Kent, SE England. They originally numbered five: Hastings, Romney (now New Romney), Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich. The association was informally organized in the 11th cent., and a formal charter was drawn up in the 13th cent. In the 12th cent., Winchelsea and Rye were added with privileges and duties similar to those of the founding members. Later, neighboring places were added as "limbs" or "members." The Cinque Ports reached their peak of significance during the Anglo-French struggle in the 14th cent. The main duty of the ports was the provision of ships and men for protection against invasion at a time when England had no permanent navy. (The ports form an arc along the coast most likely to receive an invasion from the European continent.) In return the crown allowed the members various privileges, such as exemption from taxation and from certain laws governing municipalities. The highest officer of the chartered organization was the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, who had extensive civil, military, and naval duties. His official residence was at Walmer Castle, near Deal. After Henry VII (1485–1509) founded the royal navy, the association declined. It contributed only five ships to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588. The office of lord warden remains but has no real power.

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Cinque Ports

Cinque Ports. A maritime confederation in Kent and Sussex, and the nearest England ever came to having an urban federation of the continental kind. Their privileges from the crown, in return for naval service, go back at least to the 12th cent., and they remained a formidable maritime power until Tudor times. The original ‘Five Ports’—Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich—were later joined by Rye and Winchelsea, and other lesser ports were included as ‘limbs’ or members. Most of their special jurisdiction was abolished in 1855, but the office of lord warden remains a distinguished honour in the gift of the sovereign.

David M. Palliser

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Cinque Ports

Cinque Ports a group of medieval ports in Kent and East Sussex in SE England, which were formerly allowed trading privileges in exchange for providing the bulk of England's navy. The five original Cinque Ports were Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, Romney, and Hythe; later Rye and Winchelsea were added.

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Cinque Ports

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