Welsh Noblewomen in the Thirteenth Century: An Historical Study of Medieval Welsh Law and Gender Roles

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Analyzes the role of Welsh noblewomen thirteenth-century Welsh history. It discusses their absence from this history until recently and examines several outstanding Welsh noblewomen. The women studied include the mothers, wives and daughters of the native Welsh rulers of Gwynedd as well as noblewomen from northern Powys, Cydewain, and Ceredigion. This book contains twelve color photographs.


“. . . provides a significant revision of the historiography relating to thirteenth-century Wales and goes a long way to redressing the gender balance by foregrounding Welsh women. Any attempt to construct a narrative which includes the actions of both men and women is problematic, since the first step in redressing the gender balance is usually to focus on women and thus discuss them separately. Inevitably the paucity of sources available for women of the poorer classes during this period means that Richards has, of necessity, had to focus on women privileged by both status and wealth. The lives of ordinary common Welsh people – both men and women – require yet further elucidation. The concept of national identity and what constitutes ‘Welshness’ is an important area highlighted in this volume. Was it necessary for a woman to be born in Wales and speak Welsh for her to be regarded as a native Welsh woman and to what extent did women who came to reside in Wales consider themselves to be Welsh? Richards considers a wide spectrum of women who form part of the political and social history of Wales. The volume does far more than add to our knowledge of Welsh prosopography for this period. It makes a valuable contribution to the study of Welsh noblewomen in the thirteenth century and sheds new light not only on the characters discussed, but also wider issues such as widowhood, litigation, female landowners and native law. As is often the case when one finishes reading a particularly worthwhile book, one is left with the distinct impression that it should have been written some time ago.” – Dr. Jane Cartwright, University of Wales, Lampeter

“. . . ma[kes] a very valuable contribution to our understanding of the individuals treated in the case-histories, and to the overall picture of the processes by which the Anglo-Normans gained a secure footing in Wales, and by which the native rulers, for their part, could gain significant advantages — lands, alliances and influence. It illustrates in detail the interplay of native and imported systems of land inheritance and landholding, as well as the meshing of two cultures. The book is very well-conceived and singularly well-written, including genealogical charts, a bibliography of primary and secondary sources and a few photographs, taken by the author, which illuminate the text as key points.” – Prof. Marged Haycock, University of Wales, Aberystwyth

“. . . a frank critique of the approaches of Welsh historians to their sources which can only be of benefit to the subject, even where it may provoke controversy. In her analysis, though the medieval sources were often silent on the deeds of women, there is scope to understand the role of powerfully- connected women as residing in more than simply their family connections, and to allow such women, especially as widows, to have had agency in political life, especially as English law came to challenge Welsh laws of inheritance.” – Dr. Jonathan Wooding, University of Wales Lampeter

Table of Contents

Foreword Dr. Jane Cartwright
Introduction: Languishing in the Footnotes: Women and Welsh Medieval Historiography
1. Negotiating Behind the Scenes: Senana ferch Caradog
2. The Daughters of Llywelyn Fawr
Gwladus Ddu
3. Margaret of Bromfield
4. Abduction and Rape of the King’s Baroness: Maud Clifford
5. Legitimising the Conquest of Wales: Anglo-Norman Noblewomen who married Welsh Noblemen
Siwan (Joan)
Eleanor de Montfort
Emma Audley
Elizabeth de Ferrers
6. The Welsh Laws of Women
7. Certain Welsh Nuns
8. South and Central Wales: Native Welsh Noblewomen in the Historical and Literary Record
Angharad ferch Owain ap Maredudd
Literary Evidence for Welsh Noblewomen
Genealogical Tables

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