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Title: Reading and imagining family life in later medieval western Europe
Author: Gordon, Sara Rhianydd
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 8770
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis discusses the ideals of behaviour which sought to govern family life and which were common currency in England and northern Europe, how they were constructed, and how the late medieval gentry and nobility interacted with them. Hagiography, sermons, and courtesy literature all explicitly sought to influence the views and behaviour of their audiences, whilst the letter collections of the Pastons, Plumptons, Stonors, Celys, and Armburghs offer an insight into the self-perceptions of the recipients of this didactic material. Much of this material has been studied, but it did not exist in a vacuum. Images in books, often marking key moments in a typical life-cycle, supported, extended, even contradicted the notions inculcated by these texts, were increasingly relevant to later medieval daily lives, and both influenced their audience and were used by their audience as a form of self-fashioning. The five chapters of this thesis each explore a different aspect of the medieval lifecycle. Chapters One and Two take the foundation of the household, marriage, as their starting point, discussing courtship and the ideal marriage ceremony, as well as the attributes and behaviour of the ideal spouse. Chapter Three turns to how this household operated on a wider scale, demonstrating how lords were caught between Christ's example and the pressures of lavish lay display when building networks of friendship. Chapter Four considers the genesis of a new generation: how images and texts conveyed sometimes different notions of the ideal mother and father, the location of the household as a place of learning, and the importance of models when shaping the development of the ideal child. Lastly, Chapter Five investigates the end of the lifecycle, death, and how images and texts worked together to propound the central medieval idea of a 'good death'. Consideration is given throughout this thesis to how the norms of behaviour communicated by texts and images may be studied.
Supervisor: Kauffmann, Martin ; Thompson, Benjamin Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Institute of Historical Research
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Manuscripts ; Medieval ; Courtesy books ; Literature and society--Great Britain--History ; Literature and society--Europe--History ; Families--History--To 1500 ; Families in literature ; Great Britain--History--To 1485 ; Europe--History--476-1492