Widows and Noble Remarriage in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Montpellier

  • Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Widowhood in medieval Europe has been touted as a period of exaltation for women, both spiritually and temporally. No longer would a woman be bound by the needs of the flesh, nor would she play a supporting role in a marriage possibly not of her own choosing. If she had young children, she might have the opportunity to serve as regent, or countess, or lady until her husband’s heir came of age, and so enjoy public powers wives might not.1 In some areas this ideal was infrequently realized, and widows were as much pawns in the negotiation of marital alliances as were virgin brides.2 However, one model cannot be applied to all of medieval Europe, and certainly in the south of France it appears that the public powers of wives and widows in the upper ranks of society remained considerable until at least the late twelfth century.3


Thirteenth Century Twelfth Century Public Power Family Property Marriage Contract 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Frederic Cheyette, Ermengard of Narbonne and the World of the Troubadours (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp. 25–30.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Cheyette, Aurell, Claudie Duhamel-Amado, “Femmes entre elles: Filles et épouses languedociennes (XIe et XIIe siècles),” in Femmes: Mariages-lignages, XIIe–XIVe. Mélanges offerts à Georges Duby (Brussels: De Boeck Université, 1992), pp. 125–155.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Thomas Bisson, “Unheroed Pasts: History and Commemoration in South Frankland before the Albigensian Crusades,” Speculum 65 (1990): 281–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    Jean Baumel, Naissance de Montpellier (985–1213), Histoire d’une seigneurie du Midi de la France, 4 vols. (Montpellier: Causse et Cie, 1969), 1: 3–10.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, Tuscans and their Families: A Study of the Florentine Catasto of 1421 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), pp. 202, 209, 228.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Luc d’Achery, Spicilegium: Colkctio vetentm aliquot scriptorum qui in Galliae bibliotheds delituemnt, ed. Joseph de la Barre, 3 vols. (Paris: Montalant, 1723), 3.526 [henceforth Spicilegium]; HL, 4:814; 3:712, 779.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    For more on this complex region in the Middle Ages, see Frederic Cheyette, Ermengard of Narbonne, esp. pp. 260–71, and Thomas Bisson, The Medieval Crown of Aragon: A Short History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  8. 24.
    Walter T. Pattison, The Life and Works of the Troubadour Raimbaut d’Orange (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1952), pp. 215–216.Google Scholar
  9. 25.
    V.-L. Bourrilly and Raoul Busquet, La Provence au moyen âge: Histoire politique, l’Eglise, les institutions, 1112–1481 (Paris: Barlatier, 1924), p. 18.Google Scholar
  10. 32.
    Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch, “Transformations in the Powers of Wives and Widows near Montpellier, 985–1213,” in The Experience of Power in Medieval Europe 900–1300, ed. Alan Cooper, Bob Berkhofer, and Adam J. Kosto (London: Ashgate, 2006), pp. 147–62.Google Scholar
  11. 44.
    Henri Vidal, “Les mariages dans la famille des Guillems seigneurs de Montpellier,” Revue historique de droit français et étranger 62 (1984): 231–45, 236, n37.Google Scholar
  12. 45.
    Charles Donahue,“Female Plaintiffs in Marriage Cases in the Court of York in the Later Middle Ages: What Can We Learn from the Numbers?” in Wife and Widow in Medieval England, ed. Sue Sheridan Walker (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), pp. 183–213.Google Scholar
  13. 47.
    Kathryn Reyerson, “Women in Business in Medieval Montpellier,” in Women and Work in Preindustrial Europe, ed. Barbara Hanawalt (Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press, 1986), pp. 117–144 at 137.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephanie Hayes-Healy 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations