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Author: Susan M. Johns

This is a study of noblewomen in twelfth-century England and Normandy, and of the ways in which they exercised power. It draws on a mix of evidence to offer a reconceptualization of women's role in aristocratic society, and in doing so suggests new ways of looking at lordship and the ruling elite in the high Middle Ages. The book considers a wide range of literary sources—such as chronicles, charters, seals and governmental records—to draw out a detailed picture of noblewomen in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm. It asserts the importance of the life-cycle in determining the power of these aristocratic women, thereby demonstrating that the influence of gender on lordship was profound, complex and varied.

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Susan M. Johns

degender, it facilitated the participation of women. The basis of Hawise’s power was of course her marital status: as the wife of the earl of Gloucester, Hawise’s social status at the pinnacle of aristocratic society was assured. This explains the frequency of her attestations and her place above her husband’s noble followers usually as head of the secular witnesses to his charters. A model of female witnessing existed in the royal household, where queenly witnessing was well established, and perhaps Earl William, who was styled consul in his acta, a title which

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm