I am not certain whether John Paston I (not John II) was chivalrous, but while he used ‘would’ and wrote to his wife, ‘I wolde ye schulde not let hym wete …’, Richard Cely I used ‘will’ and wrote to his son, ‘I wyll ye schall make porveons for frayth …’. In this brief study, I will compare the volitional expressions from the letters of the Pastons, the Celys, and the Stonors, and consider what politeness is in the medieval letters from the historical sociolinguistic point of view. I will also show whether there is any difference in politeness between the letters of men and women.
Margaret Paston’s creative use of the word captenesse to describe her defensive role in protecting the family manor at Hellesdon has earned her a distinctive place in the history of the English language. In this paper, I examine Margaret’s use of the word captenesse in the context of the martial role she performed in defending Paston property. In doing so, I explore how Margaret’s description of herself as captenesse may express her own sense of authoritative ascendance within the Paston household and the instability of the gendered cultural roles she experiences in the course of estate management.