Women in English Local Government: Sheriffs, Castellans and Foresters

Wilkinson, Louise (2015) Women in English Local Government: Sheriffs, Castellans and Foresters. In: The Growth of Royal Government under Henry III. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, pp. 212-226. ISBN 9781783270675, 9781783274628

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This chapter argues that the appearance of female sheriffs, castellans and foresters in English royal government records challenges traditional perceptions of the absence of women from the formal machinery of royal government in thirteenth-century England. It demonstrates that, in practice, hereditary or ‘quasi-hereditary’ shrievalties, constableships and foresterships offered women a ‘way in’ to local office in a world where women were not otherwise permitted to serve as royal justices, local jurors or government servants. This was usually as an extension of the responsibilities that they already enjoyed as local lords, managing their own private administrations and estate officials during widowhood and drawing upon earlier experiences and expertise gained in marriage. The chapter contends that it was the experience of such aristocratic ladies, their knowledge of the localities in which they resided, and their ability to command local loyalties that made the king, on occasion, prepared to accept them as his agents.

Additional Information:This is a peer-reviewed chapter in an edited collection of essays.
Keywords:Medieval royal government, Medieval forest, Castellans, Sheriffs, Forests, Medieval local government, Medieval history, Medieval women, Medieval aristocracy, Thirteenth century
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V214 English History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
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ID Code:41009
Deposited On:05 Jun 2020 14:23

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