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The uxorial lifecycle and female agency in Wales in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

Messer, Danna R. (2014) The uxorial lifecycle and female agency in Wales in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

The political, social and cultural histories of Wales before 1282, which focus on themes associated with the evolution of nationhood — namely conquest, coexistence and change — are incomplete because treatments of a collective Welsh identity fail to address women’s experiences. This thesis examines the sources largely associated with Wales during the Age of Princes, analysing how married women are identified and what types of agency are associated with them. An investigation into the uxorial lifecycle helps to highlight the gendered cultural and social expectations that women faced more generally. Comparing and contrasting conventional gender constructs found in medieval Welsh sources with evidence of women’s employment of agency highlights the status of women in society and provides a more balanced assessment of Wales before 1282. Chapter 1 discusses Welsh native sources and traditions. It examines the complexities of analysis concerning the dissemination of gender ideals found in sources composed largely during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, many of which were influenced by oral tradition. Chapter 2 looks at the development of uxorial identity. It investigates the lifecycle of the wife defined in native law, including discussions on the commodification of gender and the practice of concubinage. An examination of how the uxorial lifecycle is constructed in the Welsh chronicles and the identification of the most idealized uxorial traits found across the sources is also discussed. Chapter 3 considers the concept of native Welsh queenship and the status of wives as queens. Three key issues are explored: to what extent there was an ideal of queenship in native Wales; the core ideologies and expectations of the office of the queen; and how the use of titles and other designations denotes status. Chapter 4 reviews evidence of Welsh queenship in practice by looking at the political agency rulers’ wives exercised. Chapter 5 examines charter evidence concerning female land ownership and women’s involvement within their family lordships, localities and against a wider political backdrop.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Arts and Humanities > School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2015 15:54
Last Modified: 17 May 2016 15:38
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/5870
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