The themes that run through this book pertain to consent—particularly women’s right to choose to marry or have sex—and the power that men may exercise over women. We see these issues played out through the lens of cases within the ecclesiastical Court of York. The power dynamics of aristocratic and bourgeois society are thus retold in a series of scripts that privilege the rather different conventions of canon law. The aristocratic imperatives of lineage and patronage that underpinned the practice of arranged marriages are thus occluded by the canonical emphasis on the consent of the contracting parties. Likewise, the frictions between bourgeois and aristocratic ideologies or bourgeois concerns with order and good governance that emerge from these cases are in fact entirely peripheral to the court’s concern with the validity of disputed marriages. These are matters that can nevertheless be reconstructed from the court record.


Rape Victim Forced Marriage Court Record Forced Abduction Actual Rape 
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.
    Elizabeth Robertson, “Public Bodies and Psychic Domains: Rape, Consent, and Female Subjectivity in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde,” in Representing Rape in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, ed. Robertson and Christine M. Rose (New York: Palgrave, 2001), p. 283 [281–310].Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Michael Camille, Mirror in Parchment: The Luttrell Psalter and the Making of Medieval England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 95–6.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, for example, Keith Dockray, “Why did Fifteenth-Century English Gentry Marry?: the Pastons, Plumptons, and Stonors Reconsidered,” in Gentry and Lesser Nobility in Later Medieval Europe, ed. Michael C.E. Jones (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1986), pp. 61–80.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    P.J.P. Goldberg, “Young Women in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,” unpublished paper given at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July 2005.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Theobald retrospectively claimed that Elizabeth had consented to this marriage and abduction. He was to die only months later: Frances A. Underhill, For Her Good Estate: The Life of Elizabeth de Burgh (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 15–16; Waugh, The Lordship of England, p. 219; Jennifer Ward, “Elizabeth de Clare,” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Frederick Pollock and Frederic William Maitland, The History of English Law before the time of Edward I, 2 vols. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1898), 2:365; Helmholz, Marriage Litigation, p. 90.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    Cf. Corinne Saunders, “A Matter of Consent: Middle English Romance and the Law of Raptus,” in Medieval Women and the Law, ed. Noël James Menuge (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2000), pp. 105–11 [105–24].Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    Sue Sheridan Walker, “Punishing Convicted Ravishers: Statutory Strictures and Actual Practice in Thirteenth and Fourteenth-Century England,” Journal of Medieval History 13 (1987): 237 [237–50]; Henry Ansgar Kelly, “Meaning and Uses of Raptus in Chaucer’s Time,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 20 (1998): 131 [101–65]; Marie A. Kelleher, “Law and the Maiden: Inquisitio, Fama, and the Testimony of Children in Medieval Catalonia,” Viator 37 (2006): 356 [351–67] citing Gratian.Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    English Historical Documents, III: 1189–1327, ed. Harry Rothwell (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1975), p. 447 cited in Saunders, “A Matter of Consent,” p. 110.Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    J.B. Post, “Ravishment of Women and the Statutes of Westminster,” in Legal Records and the Historian, ed. J.H. Baker (London: Royal Historical Society, 1978), pp. 150–64. Phillips follows Post’s reading in her discussion of the changing meanings of rape during the later medieval era: Phillips, “Written on the Body,” pp. 135–8, 141–2.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    Britton, ed. Francis Morgan Nichols, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1865), 1:55.Google Scholar
  12. 38.
    Hanawalt notes how the three versions of this rape narrative were refined over time. It is only the third version that contains all three elements: Barbara A. Hanawalt, “Whose Story Was This? Rape Narratives in Medieval English Courts,” in “Of Good and Ill Repute”: Gender and Social Control in Medieval England, ed. Hanawalt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 127–34.Google Scholar
  13. 47.
    For a discussion of the concept of homosociality see Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), pp. 1–5.Google Scholar
  14. 50.
    Bray discusses two particular examples from the later fourteenth century, namely, Sir John Clanvowe and Sir William Neville (d. 1391) and Master John Bloxham and Dns. John Whytton: Alan Bray, The Friend (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. 13–19, 78–82, 106–8, 135–8.Google Scholar
  15. 51.
    Bray notices this theme in Amys and Amylion, Floris and Blanchefleur, and Guy of Warwick: Bray, The Friend, pp. 33, 82. These three romances were all popular and circulated widely in English. See also M.J. Ailes, “The Medieval Male Couple and the Language of Homosexuality,” in Masculinity in Medieval Europe, ed. Dawn Hadley (London: Longman, 1999), pp. 214–37.Google Scholar
  16. 55.
    P.J.P. Goldberg, “Masters and Men in Later Medieval England,” in Masculinity in Medieval Europe, ed. Dawn Hadley (London: Longman, 1999), p. 64 [56–70].Google Scholar
  17. 57.
    The centrality of chastity and devotion to the construction of the household is reflected in a recent discussion of a contemporary York book of hours: Sarah Rees Jones and Felicity Riddy, “The Bolton Hours of York: Female Domestic Piety and the Public Sphere,” in Household, Women, and Christianities in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, ed. Anneke Mulde-Bakker and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 215–60.Google Scholar
  18. 58.
    Marjorie Keniston McIntosh, Controlling Misbehaviour in England, 1370–1600 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  19. 59.
    Maddern, “Order and Disorder,” p. 189; P.J.P. Goldberg, “Coventry’s ‘Lollard’ Programme of 1492 and the Making of Utopia,” in Pragmatic Utopias: Ideals and Communities 1200–1630, ed. Rosemary Horrox and Sarah Rees Jones (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 97–116.Google Scholar
  20. 60.
    For aristocratic masculinity, the most recent and wide-ranging discussion is Ruth Mazo Karras, From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculnity in Late Medieval Europe (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), pp. 20–66. Karras argues that violence lay at the heart of chivalry and hence the construction of aristocratic masculinity (p. 21) and that aristocratic heterosexual desire served to objectify and commoditize women (pp. 47–57). See also Rachel Dressler, “Steel Corpse: Imagining the Knight in Death,” in Conflicted Identities and Multiple Masculinities: Men in the Medieval West, ed. Jacqueline Murray (Garland: New York, 1999), pp. 135–67; Andrew Taylor, “Chivalric Conversation and the Denial of Male Fear,” in Conflicted Identities, ed. Murray, pp. 169–88. For a subtle and nuanced study of royal masculinity see W.M. Ormrod, “Monarchy, Martyrdom and Masculinity: England in the Later Middle Ages,” in Holiness and Masculinity in the Middle Ages, ed. P. H. Cullum and Katherine J. Lewis (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2004), pp. 158–73. For an earlier era see M. Bennett, “Military Masculinity in England and Northern France c.1050–c.1225,” in Masculinity in Medieval Europe, ed. Hadley, pp. 71–88. The socialization of aristocratic girls is discussed in Phillips, Medieval Maidens, especially pp. 61–107; John Carmi Parsons, “‘Loved Him—Hated Her”: Honor and Shame at the Medieval Court,” in Conflicted Identities, ed. Murray, pp. 279–98; Sharon D. Michelove, “The Education of Aristocratic Women in Fifteenth-Century England,” in Estrangement, Enterprise and Education in Fifteenth-Century England, ed. Sharon D. Michelove and A.C. Reeves (1998), pp. 117–39; Harris, English Aristocratic Women, especially pp. 27–42. For a somewhat later era see Linda Pollock, “‘Teach Her to Live under Obedience’: The Making of Women in the Upper Ranks of Early Modern England,” Continuity and Change 4 (1989): 231–58.Google Scholar
  21. 61.
    For bourgeois masculinity see Goldberg, “Master and Men,” pp. 56–70; Shannon McSheffrey, “Men and Masculinity in Late Medieval London Civic Culture: Governance, Patriarchy and Reputation,” in Conflicted Identities, ed. Murray, pp. 243–78. For the bourgeois workshop, trust, sociability, and so on, see Rosser, “Crafts, Guilds and the Negotiation of Work,” pp. 3–31; Rees Jones, “Household, Work and the Problem of Mobile Labour,” pp. 133–53; P.J.P. Goldberg, “Household and the Organisation of Labour in Late Medieval Towns: Some English Evidence,” in The Household in Late Medieval Cities: Italy and Mediterranean Europe Compared, ed. Myriam Carlier and Tim Soens (Leuven: Garant, 2001), pp. 59–70; Felicity Riddy, “Looking Closely: Authority and Intimacy in the Late Medieval Urban Home,” in Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages, ed. Mary C. Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 2003), pp. 212–28; Isabel Davis, Writing Masculinity in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007). There is a very substantial literature on urban and bourgeois women, though only some of it specifically framed in terms of the construction of femininity. Much emphasis has, for example, been placed on women’s piety: see for example: P.H. Cullum, “‘And Hir Name was Charite’: Charitable Giving by and for Women in Later Medieval Yorkshire,” in Woman is a Worthy Wight: Women in English Society, c. 1200–1500, ed. P.J.P. Goldberg (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1992), pp. 182–211; Caroline Walker Bynum, “The Female Body and Religious Practice in the Later Middle Ages,” in Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays of Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion, ed. Bynum (New York: Zone Books, 1991), pp. 181–238; Felicity Riddy, “Women Talking about the Things of God: A Late Medieval Subculture,” in Women and Literature in Britain, 1150–1500, ed. Carol Meale (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 104–27. Poos’s study of defamation in the Church courts suggests that women’s standing in the community was understood in terms of their sexual honor whereas men’s had more to do with honesty: L.R. Poos, “Sex, Lies and the Church Courts,” 585–607. For discussions of the socialization of young urban women see note 62 below, also P.J.P. Goldberg, “Girls Growing Up in Later Medieval England,” History Today 45,6 (1995): 25–32; Caroline M. Barron, “The Education and Training of Girls in Fifteenth-Century London,” in Courts, Counties, and the Capital in the Later Middle Ages (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1996), pp. 139–53; Katherine J. Lewis, “Model Girls? Virgin Martyrs and the Training of Young Women in Late Medieval England,” in Young Medieval Women, ed. Katherine J. Lewis, Noël James Menuge, and Kim M. Phillips (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1999), pp. 25–46.Google Scholar
  22. 62.
    The Book of the Knight of Tour-Landry almost certainly circulated across the Channel in French from the later fourteenth century. A unique mid-fifteenth-century English translation is extant: Geoffroy de La Tour-Landry, Book of the Knight of La Tour-Landry, ed. Thomas Wright, EETS o.s. 38 (1906). The text was translated and printed by Caxton in 1484, by which date it was probably of more interest to families below the ranks of the greater aristocracy. “How the Goodwife Taught her Daughter” was probably first composed around or before the middle of the fourteenth century, but is known in a number of manuscript editions up until the later fifteenth century. The earlier texts are edited in The Good Wife Taught Her Daughter, The Good Wyfe Wold a Pylgremage, The Thewis of Gud Women, ed. Tauno F. Mustanoja (Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Scuran, 1948). For a discussion of this last and the ideology of femininity constructed within the text see Felicity Riddy, “Mother Knows Best: Reading Social Change in a Courtesy Text,” Speculum 71 (1996): 66–86. For another useful study of conduct literature addressed at bourgeois women see Kathleen M. Ashley, “Medieval Courtesy Literature and Dramatic Mirrors of Female Conduct” in The Ideology of Conduct: Studies in Literature and the History of Sexuality, ed. Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse (London: Methuen, 1987), pp. 25–38. See also Anna Dronzek, “Gendered Theories of Education in Fifteenth-Century Conduct Books,” in Medieval Conduct, ed. Kathleen Ashley and Robert L.A. Clark (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 135–59, a study that privileges gender over considerations of social rank.Google Scholar
  23. 63.
    See Isabel Davis, “Men and Margery: Negotiating Medieval Patriarchy,” in A Companion to the Book of Margery Kempe, ed. John H. Arnold and Katherine J. Lewis (Cambridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 2004), pp. 35–54.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jeremy Goldberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Goldberg

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations