IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 1107: Testamentary Strategies

Wednesday 11 July 2007, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Judit Majorossy, Department of Medieval & Early Modern History, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Paper 1107-aHousehold Materials and Devolutionary Strategies of the Clergy in Late Medieval Norwich
(Language: English)
Karine-Jeane Dauteuille, Independent Scholar, La Genetouze
Index terms: Daily Life, Local History, Social History
Paper 1107-bLate Medieval Lay Piety in Several Generations of a London Aldermanic Family
(Language: English)
Elizabeth S. Benns, Soper Lane, Baldock
Index terms: Daily Life, Lay Piety, Religious Life
Paper 1107-c'Fortoun is fikkill': Spiritual Bequest in Robert Henryson's The Testament of Cresseid
(Language: English)
Anna Czarnowus, Instytut Jezykow Romanskich I Translatoryki, University of Silesia
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Middle English, Language and Literature - Other, Women’s Studies

Paper a: This essay makes a contribution to the history of material culture, inheritance practice, and social networks in urban context. By examining some 800 wills from 15th-century Norwich, it compares patterns of devolution of the laity and clergy respectively, thus seeking to contextualise the testamentary strategies of the clerical population. In particular, this paper focuses on the legacies of domestic goods and their beneficiaries in the wills of clerics – considering the characteristics of this type of bequests and the dynamics shaping them. The essay includes both quantitative and qualitative analyses.
Paper b: This paper looks at the lifetime actions and testamentary provisions of various members of the Frowyk family over several generations, contrasting city with country branches of the family. Male members of the family were active in civic life, while one of the women who married into it was a successful London businesswoman. Through their actions can be glimpsed their religious concerns for themselves and for others, traced from one generation to the next through documents and existing structures, as individuals provide (in life and after death) for the spiritual well being of themselves and those for whom they feel responsible.
Paper c: This paper discusses the ambiguous nature of Cresseid’s ‘last will’ in Henryson’s poem. The title implies bequeathing the future generations (and particularly other vulnerable women) spiritual values, as the material belongings and mundane values (such as beauty) have been squandered; still, what non-material values are they? Cresseid, a newly made melancholic turned into a leper, might not be a paragon of virtue after all, considering only the medieval associations of leprosy with lechery. As a consequence, the poem could just as well be read as the testament of a repenting sinner. The metaphorical testamentary strategy is thus that of either acquitting oneself of any guilt (as some critics once thought) or that of sincere confession. The latter reading may be supported with the similar message of Polish fifteenth-century planctuses, such as the dialogue and molonogue versions of ‘Skarga umierajacego’ (‘The Planctus of the One Dying’).