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Pirate, Traitor, Wife: Jeanne of Belleville and the Categories of Fourteenth-Century French Noblewomen

  • Katrin E. Sjursen
Chapter
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Pirate, traitor, military ally. None of these labels are usually applied to fourteenth-century noblewomen, and yet Jeanne of Belleville earned them all, along with wife, mother, and widow. Even her activities within these traditional roles, however, defy simplistic definition: she successfully sued her husband and remained happily wed; she saw her eldest two children ally with her enemies; and she refused to retire as an elderly widow, preferring to literally carry on the fight she had taken up decades before. Jeanne’s life demonstrates that the traditional labels are not self-explanatory and limit our understanding of noblewomen’s experiences. Taking up Joan Scott’s second, mostly neglected, call-to-arms: how did (fourteenth-century French) society shape what it meant to be a (noble) woman?

Notes

Acknowledgments

I’d like to thank Jolanta Komornicka for generously sharing her images of the Parlement of Paris’s documents relating to Jeanne.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrin E. Sjursen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA

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