Agents or Pawns? The Experiences of the Peasant Women of Roussillon in the Blanquet Family Parchments, 1292–1345

  • Rebecca Lynn Winer
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In 1338 Berenguera, daughter of the late Ramon Jaume and widow of Bernat Blanquet, was not an active legal agent in her own affairs. On December 15, 1338, her son-in-law, Llorenç Ros, acted as her guardian (curator) with the full authority of the court of Berenguera’s village of Claira behind him (appendix, #18).1 Berenguera was about 45 years old and a widow whose children were all married adults.2 According to the Catalan law codes only a mentally unfit adult or one who was wildly financially irresponsible fell under the control of a guardian.3 It seems, then, that since Berenguera was either mentally disabled and/or a notorious spendthrift the court chose her financially solvent son-in-law to step in. As her daughter’s husband, Llorenç Ros maintained an interest in Berenguera’s welfare and was someone with whom Berenguera did not have a direct economic conflict. As guardian Llorenç worked to retrieve his mother-in-law’s dowry from the brothers Bernat and Antoni Blanquet, heirs of Berenguera’s late husband (figure 9.1). Llorenç acknowledged receipt of payment for the majority of her dowry of 75 pounds of silver (1,500 sous of Barcelona) and additional bed linens in the form of a weight of gold from the Blanquet sons. Berenguera apparently did not live with the Blanquets.


Social Rank Thirteenth Century Underage Child Family Estate Peasant Family 
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  1. 6.
    Only two testators had five or more living children. Rebecca Lynn Winer, Women, Wealth, and Community in Perpignan, c.1250–1300: Christians, Jews and Enslaved Muslims in a Medieval Mediterranean Town (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), pp. 20–25. The majority of those making wills were urban dwellers, with child mortality rates higher than in the countryside.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Winer, Women, Wealth, and Community, p. 25. See also Thomas Bisson, The Medieval Crown of Aragon: A Short History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    See “Claira” in Aymat Catafau, Les celleres et la naissance du village en Roussillon (Xe-XVe siècles) (Perpignan: Presses universitaires de Perpignan, 1998), pp. 270–278.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    See Paul Freedman, “Servitude in Roussillon,” Mélanges de l’École Française de Rome 112 (2000): 867–882Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Catafau, Les celleres and Philip Daileader, “Town and Countryside in Northeastern Catalonia, 1267–ca. 1450: The sobreposats de la horta of Perpignan,” Journal of Medieval History 24 (1998): 347–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 11.
    A nineteenth-century study is also valuable: Jean-Auguste Brutails, Étude sur la condition des populations rurales en Roussillon au Moyen Age (Geneva: Slatkine-Megariotis Reprints, 1975, 1891).Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Paul Freedman, The Origins of Peasant Servitude in Medieval Catalonia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 12.
    Pierre Bonnassie, La Catalogne du milieu du Xe à la fin du XIe siècle: croissance et mutations d’une société (Toulouse: Association des publications de l’Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, 1975–1976).Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Monique Bourin, “Peasant Elites and Village Communities in the South of France, 1200–1350,” Past and Present 195 (Suppl. 2) (2007): 104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 15.
    Winer, Women, Wealth, and Community, pp. 29–31; Richard W. Emery, Jews of Perpignan: An Economic Study Based on Notarial Records (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959), pp. 109–127.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Additional releases concerning extramarital sexual relations exist from Roussillon, most describe violent criminal cases; see Rebecca Lynn Winer, “Defining Rape in Medieval Perpignan: Women Plaintiffs Before the Law,” Viator 31 (2000): 165–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 17.
    Marie Kelleher, “Law and the Maiden: Inquisitio, Fama, and the Testimony of Children in Medieval Catalonia,” Viator 37 (2006): 351–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 23.
    Rebecca Lynn Winer, “Conscripting the Breast: Lactation, Slavery and Salvation in the Realms of Aragon and Kingdom of Majorca, c. 1250–1300,” Journal of Medieval History 34 (2008): 164–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Charlotte Newman Goldy and Amy Livingstone 2012

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  • Rebecca Lynn Winer

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