Book number: 93940 Product format: Paperback Author: HELEN MATTHEWS

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For the nobility and gentry in later medieval England, land was a source of wealth and status. Their marriages were arranged with this in mind, and it is not surprising that so many of them had mistresses and illegitimate children. John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, married at the age of 20 to a ten-year-old granddaughter of Edward I, had at least eight bastards and a complicated love life. In theory, bastards were at a considerable disadvantage - whether they be children of unmarried parents, married parents or of members of the clergy dictated their prospects in life and career opportunities. Regarded as filius nullius' or the son of no one, they were unable to inherit real property and barred from the priesthood. In practice, illegitimacy could be less of a stigma in late medieval England than it became between the 16th and late 20th centuries. There were ways of making provision for illegitimate offspring and some bastards did extremely well: in the church; through marriage; as soldiers; a few even succeeding to the family estates. For example in 1413 Thomas Lincoln, a London draper, left the residue of his goods to be divided equally between his bastard daughters Juliana and Beatrice. There is also a bequest to Juliana Pleydon and who might perhaps be their mother. In 1428 John Pigot made a bequest of ten pounds to Matilda 'filiae meae bastard'. The Derbyshire knight Sir John Leek referred in his Will in 1522 to his daughter Anne 'got by Jane my wife' and to three further daughters plus a further child as yet unborn got by Anne Menwaryng. In this case it was fairly self-evident from the context that the latter three were illegitimate. Matthews presents the experiences of John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey, as a case study of the practicalities of illegitimacy. This helps the reader to understand the life and limitations of a child born outside of marriage, as well as the extraordinary lengths that parents were willing to go in order to advance the prospects of their children. This is the first book to consider the individuals who had illegitimate children, the ways in which they provided for them and attitudes towards both the parents and the bastard children. It also highlights important differences between the views of illegitimacy taken by the Church and by the English law. 216 page large well illustrated with colour plates paperback. Cross-referenced Dramatis Personae.

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ISBN 9781526757623

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