Session 4: Lordship, History, and the Dominae of Northern France –

Female Lordship in the 13th c. Picard Historical Documents

Kathy M. Krause (University of Missouri – Kansas City)

This paper focuses on the charters in Picard Country of Ponthieu. Three daughters inherited the county in succession and made their spouses Count of Ponthieu by right of their wife. of the three, only one garnered much attention – Eleanor, who married Edward I of England.

Historians have assumed that heiresses had no power, and served simply as familial place holders. Krause challenges this notion through examining the charters of Ponthieu. Marie inherited Ponthieu during a troublesome period in history. Ponthieu was forfeit to the crown because of her husband Simon’s rebellion. In 1231, Simon returned from exile (for which he was pardoned) and Marie issued charters in her own name. All but two charters are issued jointly by Simon and Marie – this is notable to Krause because this indicates that Marie played a very public role in the running of the county. She affixed her seal to the parchment and her status as heir was taken seriously. Was this scrupulousness because Simon’s exile nearly cost Marie her inheritance? krause argues no, as she also did this when she remarried after Simon’s death.  Ponthieu was unusually scrupulous in that it appears that it regularly issued charters by both husband and wife. Neighbouring counties were examined for comparison and demonstrated the outlying areas in a bar chart. The situation in Ponthieu was shown to not be anomalous; Countess as issuer and co-issuer of charters had power to make a knight, exempt people from tax and grant land to religious houses. These women’s roles were taken seriously.

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