Wealth and lordship
in Women of the English Nobility and Gentry, 1066-1500
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This chapter contains a selection of translated and annotated texts on wealth and lordship. Women's landholding is well documented, the amount of land in their hands varying according to the accidents of birth and fortune. Land was the basis of wealth, and there is every sign that most noblewomen appreciated and made the most of their riches. Land, however, had to be managed if it was to yield as good an income as possible. Wealth was essential for any member of the nobility to maintain a conspicuous lifestyle, to play a part in local and possibly central politics through the exercise of influence and patronage, and to support and further family interests. Landholding involved service which had to be met by the lady in the absence of a lord. The land of the nobility and gentry was normally held by knight service, either of the Crown, or of a lord, whether ecclesiastical or lay.

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