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Title: Elite female constructions of power and space in England, 1444-1541
Author: Delman, Rachel Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 9221
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach to five residences that were commissioned and headed by noblewomen in England between the years 1444 and 1541. By focusing on the design, layout and use of domestic space, it explores how female authority was articulated through the material, spatial and social environment of the late medieval great household and its wider landscape. The five noblewomen and sites considered in this study are as follows: Alice Chaucer, duchess of Suffolk (c.1404-75) and Ewelme Manor House (Oxfordshire); Margaret of Anjou, queen of England (1430-82) and Greenwich Palace (Kent); Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond and Derby (1443-1509) and Collyweston Palace (Northamptonshire); Katherine Courtenay, countess of Devon (1479-1527) and Tiverton Castle (Devon); and Margaret Pole, countess of Salisbury (1473-1541) and Warblington Castle (Hampshire). By taking a comparative approach to the principal houses of these five women, this thesis makes a new and significant contribution to scholarly discussions of gender, power and space in pre-modern England, which have until now neglected to consider the great household as a site of female authority. Chapter one introduces the sites, and explores the geographical and social factors governing the women's choices of those locations. Chapters two and three focus on the arrangement of outdoor and indoor space respectively, to consider whether there was a discernible gender difference in the ways in which male and female heads of household ordered space for the projection of their authority. Chapter four focuses on the representations of male and female bodies through large-scale visual media such as tapestries and wall paintings, and considers how their representation and placement within the domestic complex articulated female authority. The fifth and final chapter explores the women's performances of their authority as household figureheads. Overall, the thesis argues that female displays of domestic authority relied on a complex interplay of masculine and feminine elements, thus challenging a prevailing notion that authoritative women in pre-modern England were merely honorary men or exceptional women, and revealing a far more nuanced reality.
Supervisor: Mileson, Stephen ; Forrest, Ian Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Architecture ; Archaeology ; Gender ; Domestic Space ; Medieval ; Landscape