English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550: Marriage and Family, by Barbara J. Harris

By Barbara J. Harris

Snap shots of aristocratic girls from the Yorkist and Tudor classes show elaborately clothed and bejeweled the Aristocracy, exemplars in their households' wealth. in contrast to their male opposite numbers, their sitters haven't been judged for his or her specialist accomplishments. during this groundbreaking research, Barbara J. Harris argues that the jobs of aristocratic better halves, moms, and widows constituted careers for girls that had as a lot public and political value and have been as the most important for the survival and prosperity in their households and sophistication as their husband's careers. girls, Harris demonstrates, have been proficient from an early age to regulate their households' estate and families; organize the marriages and careers in their childrens; create, maintain, and make the most the client-patron relationships that have been a vital aspect in politics on the neighborhood and nationwide degrees; and, eventually, deal with the transmission and distribution of estate from one iteration to a different, for the reason that such a lot better halves outlived their husbands. English Aristocratic ladies unveils the lives of noblewomen whose historic impact has formerly been brushed aside, in addition to those that grew to become favorites on the courtroom of Henry VIII. via large archival learn of files belonging to greater than twelve hundred households, Harris paints a collective portrait of upper-class ladies of this era. by way of spotting the total value of the aristocratic women's careers, this e-book reinterprets the politics and gender kinfolk of early sleek England. Barbara J. Harris is Professor of heritage and Women's reports on the college of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her past works comprise Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, 1478-1521.

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61 Even more than their training in producing and sewing luxury fabrics, however, the musical education of aristocratic daughters was an accomplishment that marked their high status. Although music was closely associated with the culture of the early Tudor court, playing musical instruments and patronizing musicians spread far beyond the royal family. Wills and inventories reveal that many aristocratic women learned to play the lute and virginals. 66 In a society in which illiteracy was widespread, particularly among women, they clearly benefited from their position as members of a privileged elite.

83 Twenty-five of these testators were themselves female. 89 In 1523, Thomas, Lord Dacre, recommended that if his young grandson married Katherine Parr, he should be sent to live with her widowed mother because "he might learn with her as well as in any place that I know . . 92 In addition, some of the most ambitious parents sent their daughters abroad to learn or perfect their French. 95 Book ownership provides the best indication of fifteenth-century women who knew French, if one assumes that those who owned French books or re- DAUGHTERS 37 ceived them as legacies could indeed read the language.

In addition, some men without sons preferred to leave their property to their daughters rather than their brothers or nephews. , break) entails on their inheritances. 31 To secure his daughter Agnes's advantageous marriage to Sir Edmund Brudenell, for example, John Bussey an ordinary gentleman, broke the entail on his inheritance in her favor. 32 The common recovery left the initiative in determining the descent of land in men's hands and permitted fathers to bend the rules in favor of their daughters at the expense of their collateral male relatives.

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