Susan M. Johns

in Noblewomen, Aristocracy and Power in the Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Realm

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780719063046
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700280 | DOI:

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter reveals that the interaction between gender and social status defined the place and role of noblewomen in society. The role of women as witnesses, as givers and receivers of countergifts and in the affidation ceremony showed the complexity of noblewomen's involvement in land transfers. The texts of women's seals reveal the significance of land tenure and the female life cycle in defining the legitimate place of noblewomen as landholders in society. The Rotuli de Dominabus et de Pueris et de Puellis de XII Comitatibus make it clear that noblewomen's tenure of land underpinned their status, dower was the principle form of land tenure by which widows were supported and the practice of endowing daughters with maritagium was restricted. The status of women is fundamentally linked with land tenure and with socio-economic and political factors as much as marital and family status.

Keywords: noblewomen; gender; social status; countergifts; affidation; land transfers; seals; Rotuli de Dominabus; land tenure

Chapter.  3136 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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