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Title: Material mnemonics and social relationships in the Diocese of London, 1467-1524
Author: Rowland, Anna Christine Boeles
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 6317
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This study is an analysis of objects as a conduit for social communication in the later medieval diocese of London. Although the giving of tokens did not constitute a legal proof of marital consent, the frequency and detail with which they were recalled by litigants and witnesses is testament to their importance as socially-meaningful proofs of courtship and consent. Such gifts, however, were not fixed or irrefutable proofs of matrimony. Rather, the meaning associated with particular objects was dependent on how people perceived they had been exchanged. I contend that people were aware of this flexibility of meaning and framed their arguments about an exchange of gifts according to personal, social, and legal agendas. The chapters of this thesis demonstrate how the exchange of tokens reflected a relationship's progression: from courtship to married life. Chapter 1 examines what tokens were exchanged during negotiations of marriage and places these objects within a wider cultural and archaeological context. Chapter 2 focuses on courtship tokens, and how they were used to navigate potential marital relationships. Chapter 3 discusses how contract gifts were given to mark the new marital identity of a contracting couple. The final chapter examines the exchange of things across the marital life course. Letters written between recently married couples show how the exchange of objects was used by couples to communicate their desires and emotions during times of separation. The objects bequeathed in last wills and testaments are further evidence of the importance of objects not just in the creation of a marriage but also in the conservation of marital and personal identity. This thesis shows that the exchange of gifts was socially and culturally recognised as a powerful and emotive expression of marital intention, even if the law and its systems denied it.
Supervisor: Forrest, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Material Culture ; Medieval ; Gifts ; Marriage ; Memory Studies ; History