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Castles in Medieval SocietyFortresses in England, France, and Ireland in the Central Middle Ages$
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Charles L. H. Coulson

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208242.001.0001

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Female Castellans: Prevision, Not Prejudice

Female Castellans: Prevision, Not Prejudice

(p.297) 1 Female Castellans: Prevision, Not Prejudice
Castles in Medieval Society


Oxford University Press

The difficulties inherent in the female tenure of a fortress in England and France during the medieval period might appear greater than with an ordinary fief. Castles were female preserves as long-stay residences and as administrative commitments. In nearly all respects, and in all but exceptional circumstances, they were indistinguishable from manor-houses not dignified with ostentatious fortification nor styled castle. Given their interests, great women undoubtedly influenced, where they did not determine and commission, all types of building in fortresses. More central to present concerns are the elements introduced into castle relations by female castellans — who assumed their position as heiresses or dowagers. The ability of the female castellan to efficiently supervise the keeping of a castle in her lord's interest depended on her own activity, personality, age, residence, and experience — qualities all required for the normal running of the estate, rarely on the condition of the peace in the locality.

Keywords:   castles, fortresses, medieval period, England, France, castellans, women, heiresses, dowagers

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