Household
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 women and the household. The household was the centre and hub of the lady's life and activities, and can be regarded as a community in its own right. Much of the information about women's households, however, relates to the time when they were widows. Much of the lady's life was lived in the public gaze, even at the end of the Middle Ages, although there was then greater privacy than earlier on. The importance of the household is underlined by the 'Rules of St Robert', said to have been drawn up by Robert Grosseteste for the widowed countess of Lincoln in c. 1241. He emphasised that the tone of the household was set by the lady who was in overall charge. Most knowledge of the household is derived from household accounts and wills; household accounts are first found in the 1180s and become more numerous after c. 1250.

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