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Jennifer L. Sisk

6 Chaucer and hagiographic authority Jennifer L. Sisk While much has been written about Chaucer’s debt to French, Italian and Classical literature,1 comparatively little attention has been devoted to Chaucer’s engagement with hagiography, even though writing about the saints was the most popular and widespread medieval narrative tradition.2 Chaucer’s own legend of St Cecilia is generally regarded as the first (or most) literary example of vernacular hagiography produced in late medieval England, but his engagement with the tradition goes far beyond the

in Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain
Johanna Kramer

(‘What was to be seen of our Redeemer has passed over into the Sacraments. In order that faith might be more perfect and more firm, teaching has taken the place of sight, and to this authority the hearts of believers, illumined by heavenly rays, have conformed’). 73 Leo elegantly justifies the physical disappearance of Christ by arguing that the sacraments, and thus faith, have replaced the once visible Christ. Furthermore, he strengthens the authority of the preacher and establishes a continuum between the Ascension and the celebration of the Mass that gives the

in Between earth and heaven
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

noblewomen and power 7 Seals Representation, image and identity here are over 145 extant secular women’s seals from the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.1 They present the historian with unique opportunities to study the portrayal of female identity in twelfth-century England. Seals were visual representations of power, and they conveyed notions of authority and legitimacy. They publicly presented a view of both men and women which visibly crystallised ideas about gender, class and lordship. The modern historian of seals owes a considerable debt to

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
The Rotuli de Dominabus et Pueris et Puellis de XII Comitatibus of 1185
Susan M. Johns

Warren argued that under Henry II inquiries such as the 1185 Rotuli de Dominabus represent a significant restoration of royal authority over the magnates, baronage and knightly classes.10 This debate is focused on the development of institutions in a historiography dominated by concerns about government control over a ‘feudal’ society seen as male-dominated in which women played a passive role; and further this has become unhelpfully centred on the question of whether Henry II’s regime was efficient and ruthlessly exploitative or reformist in nature. By its nature this

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

at the order of her husband, emphasising his power and authority as head of the family, as superior lord, and this emphasises his control over the ceremony. This also indelibly associated her with his authority. Hence there is another dimension to the foundation of the abbey – it could be argued that in fact the foundation is a joint act which demanded the loyalty of Earl Hugh’s followers to both him and his wife, who then as countess enacted the donation. Therefore the foundation is a focal point of loyalty to the family acting together in lordship. The familial

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

was women below the rank of tenant-in-chief who gave affidations. Therefore it was possible for hierarchies of lordship to operate within and between groups of women. These roles were deeply gendered, since the female life cycle especially impacted on women’s opportunity to exercise power. 196 conclusion These themes were developed in the discussion of women’s sealing practice. The practical role of seals as validators of documents and the symbolic meaning of the motifs used on seals show how women’s power and authority in reality and symbolically were imaged in

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

image, and sealing practice itself, as an indicator of women’s power. Twelfth-century writers discussed in Chapters 2 and 3 include Orderic 6 introduction Vitalis, William of Malmesbury and William of Newburgh, and the analysis considers the way that women appear in these texts, but also the extent to which women could influence their creation, and thus considers the limitations of those texts as a guide to women’s power. The 1185 Rotuli de Dominabus, a complex and under-utilised source, is analysed in Chapter 9 to consider the way that royal authority and the law

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

indicators of the personal, social and political power of twelfth-century noblewomen. Several issues affect the interpretation of charter evidence. The use of documentary records became more routine, as did the formulas which were used to express 82 witnessing commonplace happenings, and phrases were developed to express what may in fact not have occurred.14 Thus charters may have been statements of pretension rather than expressions of real power and authority, and therefore propaganda.15 Thus witness lists may have also been pretensions to power rather than evidence

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Susan M. Johns

carte attestatione et sigillorum nostrorum appositione communimus.21 The conjoint sealing clause stressed equal authority. It is unclear when or whether Lecia entered the priory, but it seems likely that she did, given her support and patronage, the fact that her sister was already there and the arrangements that she made for her daughter. Lecia was involved with donations and gifts to Clerkenwell for over twenty years during the period 1176–98 in various capacities which include co-alienor, grantor and witness.22 There are eight charters of Lecia and her husband in

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

defining women’s power and its interactions with social, familial and political connections and contexts. Public authority wielded by powerful women is discussed in masculine terms, since, as Duby and Stafford argue, power has the capacity to reor degender.6 This is explicable if we accept that male reaction to female A 13 literary sources power shows that it is historically often defined as illegitimate, unusual or unnatural.7 The following discussion draws on these key themes. It acknowledges the difficulties of analysing images of noblewomen in contradictory

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm