History's Women: Misc. Articles: Influence of Medieval Institutions - Hereditary Rights - Women Nobles of the Twelfth Century

Women Nobles of the Twelfth Century

The twelfth century was a turbulent period of transition, both in France and in England, from an old state of society to a new one. It witnessed in both countries the great struggle between kingly government and feudal power, and, at the end of it, the advantage remained with the crown, though the victory was but imperfect.

Hereditary Rights

The position of woman, it is true, had been, in some degree, raised at the beginning of this period, especially among the aristocracy. Kings of the Normal line granted the hereditary right of succession to such titles of nobility as earls, barons, etc., without exception of sex; so that on the failure of male heirs, the title should devolve and be confirmed to the women, and they could convey it by marriage to their families. Thus women became nobles in their own right. On the other hand, the authority of the father over his daughters in regard to giving in marriage, had been transferred to the feudal lord, or at least was placed under his control; and his right to the disposal of wards was more strictly enforced than ever, and was made a means of profit and extortion.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.