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Widows in Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Britain

Marie-Françoise Alamichel

This volume provides a comprehensive study of widowhood in Medieval Britain based on literary and historical sources from the seventh to the fifteenth centuries. The book is divided into two parts: the first deals with the Anglo-Saxon period, the second with the Medieval period. Because widows shared certain preoccupations specific to their status, the two parts deal with similar topics: the fundamental role played by the Church in the doctrine of marriage, and the dominant male discourse about widows. Widows had a specific legal status: special laws affected their lives and their relationships with their children and other relatives. Much attention is consequently devoted to family structures and to the legal and social aspects of inheritance. The volume also explores the various options widowhood offered and the highly debated degree of independence widows had in their life choices.
Contents: The Anglo-Saxon Period: Widowhood and Remarriage - The Legal Status of Widows - The Economic (In)dependence of Widows – The Medieval Period: Widowhood and Remarriage - The Socio-economic Reality of Widowhood.