PRESENTER: Eileen Kim, Ph.D. candidate in the Centre for Medieval Studies.
TITLE: Customary Spousal Provisions, Testamentary Bequests, and the Conjugal Relationship in London Husting Court Records, 1350-1485
ABSTRACT: When planning ahead for the disposal of their goods and properties and the welfare of their families after death, 14th and 15th-century London residents could create and register wills in several different courts. An important issue for social historians concerns the extent to which husbands provided for their wives whom they anticipated would outlive them. Did they simply provide the minimum required by London custom, or did they exceed it, and what might the evidence thus suggest about marital relationships in this context? This paper will examine the extent to which male testators enrolling wills in Londons Husting Court followed the citys guidelines for provisions for their spouses. It will argue that most testators recognized and honoured their wives' rights in property and living arrangements to the full extent of the law; however, the evidence also suggests that husbands maintained subtle but clear lines of separation between their wives and other family members which took effect upon the husband's death.