Power and Agency in Post-Conquest England: Elite Women and the Transformations of the Twelfth Century

  • RāGena C. DeAragon
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Decades of research on women in Norman and Angevin England challenge both the McNamara and Wemple thesis on declining female power in the Central Middle Ages and the prevailing political narrative for that kingdom. Elite women were empowered by their status and claims to property and wealth. If widowed or divorced, they had control of their dowry and dower. Their claims to inherit from their natal families increased with the adoption of parceny. The rise of administrative kingship and legal and judicial innovations limited some options for elite women to exercise power but enhanced or safeguarded others. The policies of individual kings varied. Evidence is presented to argue against absolute royal control over the remarriage of elite widows, although Kings Richard I and John may have exerted greater pressure on them to marry royal nominees or purchase their marriage rights.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • RāGena C. DeAragon
    • 1
  1. 1.Gonzaga UniversitySpokaneUSA

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