“As If She Were Single”: Working Wives and the Late Medieval English Femme Sole

  • Brian W. Gastle
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This essay demonstrates how the legal term, femme sole, emerged and changed from the late thirteenth through early fifteenth centuries in England, and outlines the ways in which that classification disrupted medieval notions of marital obligation and equity associated with the marriage debt.


Single Woman Fifteenth Century Fourteenth Century Marriage Contract Legal Documentation 
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    For a discussion of single women and widows operating as femmes soles see Amy M. Froide, “Marital Status as a Category in Early Modern England,” in Singlewomen in the European Past 1250–1800, ed. Judith M. Bennett and Amy M. Froide (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), pp. 246–48 [236–69].Google Scholar
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© Kellie Robertson and Michael Uebel 2004

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  • Brian W. Gastle

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