Session 1301: The Lives and Afterlives of Elite Women in Conquest England
Wednesday 6 July 2016, 16.30-18.00
|Haskins Society / Battle Conference for Anglo-Norman Studies
|Chris Lewis, Institute of Historical Research, University of London / Department of History, King's College London
|Amy Livingstone, Department of History, Wittenberg University, Ohio
|The Afterlives of St Wulfthryth and St Wulfhild at Wilton and Barking
Index terms: Hagiography, Monasticism, Religious Life, Women's Studies
|The Madness of Countess Gode
Index terms: Gender Studies, Medicine, Social History
|What Happened to Anglo-Saxon Women after the Norman Conquest?
Index terms: Gender Studies, Women's Studies
The session explores the shape and meaning of women’s lives in late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman England. The agency of elite women has been a major theme in recent scholarship. Here we bring a new perspective by presenting studies of women whose agency was under tighter than usual constraints: death, madness, and conquest. The meaning and shape of their lives was determined by other people and outside events, and in the context of 'family', but not primarily by fathers or husbands. The first paper examines the contrasting ways in which the lives and deeds of two saintly abbesses were represented by the communities where they were venerated. The second paper argues that the later life of Edward the Confessor's sister Gode was shaped by her 'madness'. The third paper looks at how the womenfolk of landed families survived the destruction of their social class during the Norman Conquest, and at how some of them acquired agency as the representatives of their families in the transmission of land.