Susan M. Johns
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in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm

This chapter reveals that the interaction between gender and social status defined the place and role of noblewomen in society. The role of women as witnesses, as givers and receivers of countergifts and in the affidation ceremony showed the complexity of noblewomen's involvement in land transfers. The texts of women's seals reveal the significance of land tenure and the female life cycle in defining the legitimate place of noblewomen as landholders in society. The Rotuli de Dominabus et de Pueris et de Puellis de XII Comitatibus make it clear that noblewomen's tenure of land underpinned their status, dower was the principle form of land tenure by which widows were supported and the practice of endowing daughters with maritagium was restricted. The status of women is fundamentally linked with land tenure and with socio-economic and political factors as much as marital and family status.

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