Post-classical history

Women in the Medieval Common Law c.1200–1500

Women in the Medieval Common Law c.1200–1500

This book examines the view of women held by medieval common lawyers and legislators, and considers medieval women’s treatment by and participation in the processes of the common law. Surveying a wide range of points of contact between women and the common law, from their appearance (or not) in statutes, through their participation (or not) as witnesses, to their treatment as complainants or defendants, it argues for closer consideration of women within the standard narratives of classical legal history, and for re-examination of some previous conclusions on the relationship between women and the common law. It will appeal to scholars and students of medieval history, as well as those interested in legal history, gender studies and the history of women.

Abbreviations and citation conventions

Introduction: women, the common law and the legal historians

Part I: Unions and divisions: women and the common law

Chapter 1. ‘Their position is inferior to that of men’: differentiation, inclusion, omission

Chapter 2. Unstable constructions: unity, disunity, property and favour in common law thought on women

Part II: Audible and inaudible; credible and not credible: women in the legal process

Chapter 3. ‘By the mouth of man’: women as non-party actors in litigation

Part III: Women’s complaints and complaints of women

Chapter 4. Voice, agency and ‘playing the victim’

Chapter 5. Limits and accommodation

Chapter 6. Responsible and irresponsible women: the female defendant

Conclusion: the future of women’s legal past

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