Journal article Open Access

«New noblewomen» in England of the first half of the XV century: between the norm and reality

Chernova L. N.

The article is devoted to the urgent and poorly known problem of the place and role of women in the English gentry’s community of the first half of the XV century. Using the information from the correspondence of the Armburghs (The Armburgh Papers), the author traces the main stages of Joan Armburgh's life and varieties of her fortune and that of her nieces and finds out how typical they were in accordance with generally accepted ideas about the place and mission of a woman from the gentry’s family. The article shows that the status of a woman was determined by the family and her well-being depended on the relatives – her father and husband. However, this did not exclude the active role of the woman in asserting her rights and interests of the family. The biography of Joan Armburgh and the facts from the life of her nieces, who belonged to the gentry, contradict the idea of weakness and humility of wives in noble families. Difficulties that they had to deal with forced these women to show a surprising for noblewomen activity and persistent desire to defend their interests, relying on their own connections in society and knowledge of law, and on men’s support.

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