Alison Wiggins
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Money, marriage and remembrance
Telling stories from the Cavendish financial accounts
in Bess of Hardwick
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This chapter focuses on a book of financial accounts from the mid-sixteenth century and looks outwards from the static lists of payments to the surrounding lively and animate web of social and interpersonal relations. It asks what might be revealed to us about the objects and persons named in its monetarised lists and what gendered power dynamics might arise. Early modern financial accounts have often been underestimated as sources – mined as quarries of facts within the biographical tradition – but this chapter is concerned with the ways in which they can reward analyses of their language, materiality and archival afterlife. It is concerned with how these conventional texts could be customised to serve the agendas of individuals or to accommodate the requirements of particular communities. It asks how and why a person might draw up a set of financial accounts, but also considers the implications of choices made over scribes, handwriting, presentation, personal spelling system and linguistic scripts. Financial accounts had communicative functions related to their moment of production, but could also carry meanings across time and between generations.

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Bess of Hardwick

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