Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7933
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Kittell , Ellen E.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Construction of Women's Social Identity in Medieval Douai: Evidence from Identifying Epithets [many women acted for themselves in doing public business].
  • Source: Journal of Medieval History 25, 3 (September 1999): Pages 215 - 227.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Douai, Nord, France Family Identity Law Names- Epithets Women in Active Roles
  • Geographic Area: France
  • Century: 13- 14
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  • Abstract: In documents throughout medieval Europe, references to persons were frequently augmented by concise phrases that provided identifying information beyond personal names. Most of these appositive references described the subject with reference to familial association; "daughter of," "wife of," and "son of" were among the most frequent. Such phrases were more commonly appended to women's names than to men's. In some regions, familial associations were virtually the only type of epithet appended to women's names, and it has become common to assume that women who were identified without any such appositives must have been single or widowed. An examination of the documentary record for Douai, a commercial city located near the border between the French kingdom and the county of Flanders, however, demonstrates that appositives attached to women's names were by no means limited to detailing familial connections, and that identification with reference to marital or family relationships does not in any case imply incapacity to transact public business on one's own behalf. A lack of appositives should not, therefore, be assumed to signify single or widowed status. The fluidity of the formulas used in identifying women, including the frequent failure in particular instances to note familial associations that can be inferred from elsewhere in the documentary record, may well attest to the breadth of opportunities the city offered to women. [Reprinted from the Journal of Medieval History (at http://www.elsevier.nl/locate/jmedhist), Vol. 25, No. 3, Kittell, Ellen E., "The Construction of Women's Social Identity in Medieval Douai: Evidence from Identifying Epithets," p.215, 1999, with permission from Elsevier Science].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Idaho
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1999.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 03044181
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