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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 229: Documenting Socio-Economic Relationships: Women, Families, and Labourers

Monday 4 July 2016, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Phillipp R. Schofield, Department of History & Welsh History, Aberystwyth University
Paper 229-aEntrepreneurs in the Cloth Hall: Elite Women Merchants in Late Medieval Douai
(Language: English)
Sarah Hanson, Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara
Index terms: Social History, Women's Studies
Paper 229-bQuiet Women Seldom Make History: Scolding in 14th-Century Wakefield
(Language: English)
Megan Wall, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, KU Leuven
Index terms: Law, Local History, Social History, Women's Studies
Paper 229-cFamily Fortunes: Tracking Names in 15th-Century Worcester
(Language: English)
Timothy Bowly, Independent Scholar, Bristol
Index terms: Geography and Settlement Studies, Local History, Social History

Paper -a:
While the integral role of women in the textile industry is well known, scholarship on women's work tends to focus on low- and middling-status trades in textile production. In this paper, by contrast, I investigate the entrepreneurial roles of elite women from Douai in the southern Low Countries. Sales tax accounts from the early 14th century reveal that women consistently made up over a third of the merchants who sold finished wool cloth in the city's Cloth Hall. Further, elite women - including those connected to the most powerful alderman families of Douai - were some of the most successful merchants overall, selling wool cloth alongside many of the city's most prominent male citizens. This paper seeks to highlight the contributions of women merchants as urban entrepreneurs and to illuminate women's work in high-status trades related to the textile industry.

Paper -b:
On October 3, 1336, ten West Yorkshire women were brought before the Wakefield manor tourn - a type of criminal court for petty offenses - where they were accused of being 'common scolds'. The origins of scolding remain shadowy because the misdemeanour was never clearly defined by the scribes and clerks who recorded it as an offense. Social historians have located the rise of scolding as an offense in the post-plague era or later. Reporting such a large group of women in the pre-plague 1330s, the Wakefield court officials seem to be ahead of this time span traditionally allocated to scolding phenomena in England. The goal of this paper is to contextualise this scolding case in light of local dynamics on medieval manors, as well as recent work conducted on the subject of scolding women, and introduce possible avenues for further research.

Paper -c:
The city of Worcester on the River Severn in the English Midlands was a successful medieval town. This paper tracks the fortunes of its citizens from the 1379-1381 Poll Taxes to the 1524 Tudor Subsidy by using a variety of 15th century sources including wills, deeds, creditors/ debtors records, and the lists of bailiffs and members of parliament to determine which families survived and which thrived. Worcester's entries in the Dictionary of National Biography will be contrasted with other towns such as Bristol. The composition of Worcester's immigrants will be compared with the county data and with other nearby towns.