Non-comital women of twelfth-century England: a charter based analysis

Kilpi, Hanna Ilona (2015) Non-comital women of twelfth-century England: a charter based analysis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis sets out to explore the place and agency of non-comital women in twelfth-century Anglo-Norman England. Until now, broad generalisations have been applied to all aristocratic women based on a long established scholarship on royal and comital women. Non-comital women have been overlooked, mainly because of an assumed lack of suitable sources from this time period. The first aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that there is a sufficient corpus of charters for a study of this social group of women. It is based on a database created from 5545 charters, of which 3046 were issued by non-comital women and men, taken from three case study counties, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Yorkshire, and is also supported by other government records. This thesis demonstrates that non-comital women had significant social and economic agency in their own person. By means of a detailed analysis of charters and their clauses this thesis argues that scholarship on non-comital women must rethink the framework applied to the study of non-comital women to address the lifecycle as one of continuities and as active agents in a wider public society. Non-comital women’s agency and identity was not only based on land or in widowhood, which has been the one period in their life cycles where scholars have recognised some level of autonomy, and women had agency in all stages of their life cycle. Women’s agency and identity were drawn from and part of a wider framework that included their families, their kin, and broader local political, religious, and social networks. Natal families continued to be important sources of agency and identity to women long after they had married. Part A of the thesis applies modern charter diplomatic analysis methods to the corpus of charters to bring out and explore women’s presence therein. Part B contextualises these findings and explores women’s agency in their families, landholding, the gift-economy, and the wider religious and social networks of which they were a part.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Charters, women, twelfth-century England, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Oxfordshire.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Marritt, Dr. Stephen and Smith, Professor Julia
Date of Award: 2015
Embargo Date: 16 May 2019
Depositing User: Dr Hanna I. Kilpi
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-7322
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2016 13:05
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2016 07:20
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7322

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