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London Women, the Courts and the ‘Golden Age’ : a Quantitative Analysis of Female Litigants in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
The London Journal, Volume: 37, Issue: 2, Start page: 67
Swansea University Author: Matthew Stevens
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This paper uses judicial records of the Sheriffs’ Court of London and the royal Court of Common Pleas at Westminster to investigate whether the concept of a later medieval ‘Golden Age’ of female opportunity, as Caroline Barron has posited, is indicated by London’s legal customs, as reflected in quan...
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This paper uses judicial records of the Sheriffs’ Court of London and the royal Court of Common Pleas at Westminster to investigate whether the concept of a later medieval ‘Golden Age’ of female opportunity, as Caroline Barron has posited, is indicated by London’s legal customs, as reflected in quantitative evidence of London women’s court appearances and the types of cases in which they were litigants. It offers an introduction to economic and legal aspects of the ‘Golden Age debate’ and other quantitative investigations of women in later medieval courts; presents a comparative pre-plague to post-plague analysis of London women in the London Sheriffs’ Court and royal Court of Common Pleas; and places trends regarding London women within a national context. It is concluded that women in London, as elsewhere in England, were less likely to act as litigants in the post-plague era, suggesting a general tightening up of patriarchal control over women’s public activities that is inconsistent with a socially expressed ‘Golden Age’ of women in later medieval London. But, some evidence is presented that London women may nevertheless have enjoyed slightly enhanced economic opportunities in the fifteenth century.
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences