To examine the battle of the sexes in Jewish society and to follow the male struggle against the power of women in the family unit, this chapter examines three types of women. First type is the woman who attempts to free herself of a husband while retaining what she has achieved and the property she has acquired during the marriage by claiming that he is impotent. Second is the childless widow who attempts to free herself from the extended family of her dead husband. Third type is the woman who finds her husband repulsive and decides to withhold the enjoyment of sexual relations from him or to desist from the work she has undertaken to do for him. The dayanim had a strong desire to help women when they believed there would be some social or communal benefit.
This book is intended as both a history of judicial developments in the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and as a contribution to the intellectual
history of the period. The dates 1215 and 1381 mark significant turning points
in English history. The product of legal culture and experiences, 'legal
consciousness' can be seen both as an active element shaping people's
values, beliefs and aspirations and also as a passive agent providing a reserve
of knowledge, memory and reflective thought, influencing not simply the
development of the law and legal system, but also political attitudes. Focusing
on the different contexts of law and legal relations, the book aims to shift the
traditional conceptual boundaries of 'law', portraying both the
law's inherent diversity and its multi-dimensional character. By offering a
re-conceptualisation of the role of the law in medieval England, the book aims
to engage the reader in new ways of thinking about the political events
occurring during these centuries. It considers the long-term effects of civil
lawyer, Master John Appleby's encounter with forces questioning royal
government and provides a new explanation for the dangerous state of affairs
faced by the boy-king during the Peasants' Revolt over a century and a half
later. The book puts forward the view that the years subsequent to the signing
of Magna Carta yielded a new (and shifting) perspective, both in terms of
prevailing concepts of 'law' and 'justice' and with regard
to political life in general.
The argument from Kingdoms and Communities explains much of Susan Reynolds's approach to medieval history, both in that book and in Fiefs and Vassals. The interpretation of early medieval law as 'essentially formal and ritualised depends on assuming that it must have been, because primitive law must by definition be formal and ritualised and because the early Middle Ages look primitive'. Mentalities have been treated as entities with a distinctive life of their own. This chapter discusses a case which came before the royal judges in the court of King John in 1213, when the prior of Durham's attorney produced a charter with a broken knife attached to it instead of a seal. Legal practice in the recording of contracts differs from one society to another, as it is rooted in particular cultural traditions which are sanctioned by custom, though changes may come fast when a new technology obtrudes itself.
At the heart of the medieval peacemaking process stood the face-to-face meeting. Conferences between rulers are frequently mentioned in the sources of the period, yet chroniclers often tell more about where these parleys took place than they do about what was decided. There are various pieces of evidence that indicate that there may have been more conferences held at or near the elm tree. The evidence of the elm tree and the ford of St Remigius clearly shows that meeting places were a statement by medieval princes that those two sites were regarded as forming part of the border at the time of meeting. Bridges are another example of specific sites of conferences that are visible in the landscape, of which there are some well-known and justifiably famous meetings that date from the later medieval period.
This chapter shows that not all relationships, and therefore not all sites, fall neatly into a polarised concept of meetings between equals or meetings between superior and inferior. Whether a ruler was a superior or an inferior is an issue dependent on one's vantage point at any one particular time. Hence, superiority and inferiority are in terms of Anglo-Welsh peacemaking not static points at the opposite ends of a scale, but rather a fluid framework guided by realpolitik. Meetings between superior and inferior, or between victor and vanquished, were not located on border sites and they were generally characterised by one-sidedness rather than exchanges. It is evident that, to modern and medieval commentators alike, the site of a conference directly influenced the succeeding chain of events and it reflected the relationship between the two rulers making peace, or, for that matter, war.
This chapter outlines some of the major medieval discourses about sexual difference which inform Chaucer's depiction of women in the Canterbury Tales, in particular, the tendency of medieval writers to polarise their views of women, condemning them to the pit or elevating them to the pedestal. It asks whether any of these views can be equated with Chaucer's own position by examining the Wife of Bath's rejection of the pedestal. It explores the alternative to both the pit and the pedestal offered in the 'Tale of Melibee' and the 'Parson's Tale'. It is possible and legitimate for modern critics to argue that Chaucer intended peple to interpret the Wife as a corroboration of misogynist attitudes. It would be wrong to portray medieval views of women as universally or straight forwardly misogynist or to see the idealisation of women as the only medieval alternative to such misogyny.
Critics who consider the social meaning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools: those who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day and those who see Chaucer as possessing a more heterodox voice. This chapter attempts to put the case for each of these views, examining them in terms of Mikhail Bakhtin's distinction between the conservative monologic work and the more subversive, dialogic text, before an assessment of their relative merits. It is possible to reconcile the apparently contradictory 'monologic' and 'dialogic' interpretations of the Canterbury Tales. If the Canterbury Tales left itself open to being read as a dialogic work by modern critics, it could be argued that, given medieval notions of the purposes of literature, such a reading was far removed from that of Chaucer himself and hardly available to readers in Chaucer's own day.
As an index of taste and privilege, music may be seen as a vehicle to express ideas of territory, status and hegemony to society at large. This chapter discusses the issue of where and when gentry members may have gone beyond the role of providing resources for musical provision and crossed over to become performers of musical works themselves. Music in fifteenth-century England appears to have been essentially a contingent aspect of daily life for the majority of members of the gentry, and much of its 'meaning' is dependent upon being fleshed out by context. The music education of Thomas Marchall may reflect older patterns of household service or it may tie in with an educational trend identified separately by both Nicholas Orme and Moran Cruz. The routes to music education for the gentry at least in fifteenth-century England appear, however, rather more traditional.
The oath of 1190 reveals a common practice in peacemaking of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, namely that of a representative taking an oath in the name of his ruler. The oath of 1190 allows the historian to address an issue, namely the verbal connection between an oath and an agreement. The fact that the text of the 1190 oath is recorded in Latin raises the issue of whether the oath would have been sworn in Latin or in the vernacular. The oath in the medieval West was an appeal to God that included actual physical contact with a sacred object, usually a relic or a Gospel book. The oath was an essential part of guaranteeing agreements through the appeal to faith, personal honour and obligation that it invoked on behalf of the oath-taker.
The final stages of the life cycle witnessed the ageing of the individual to the point where he or she would be identified as 'old' or 'aged'. In twenty-first-century Britain, chronological age has a key role in defining the entry into senior citizenship. Sixty-five is the official age for retirement and pension entitlement. While medieval writers employed chronological age markers, they preferred identifying an old person in terms of appearance, or by mental and physical capabilities. With the introduction of state pensions in the twentieth-century Britain, old age became associated with retirement, and a clear distinction is drawn between the working, active young and the inactive old. There were no state pensions or universal work benefits in medieval Europe. The chapter also shows that the elderly in medieval society were stereotyped as physically weak, and exemptions from war and administrative responsibilities imply that some old people were given age-related assistance.