The Legitimacy of Bastards

The Place of Illegitimate Children in Later Medieval England

Helen Matthews

For the nobility and gentry in later medieval England, land was a source of wealth and status. Their marriages were arranged with this in mind, and it is not surprising that so many of them had mistresses and illegitimate children.
Date Published :
June 2019
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Language:
English
Illustration :
20 color illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781526716552
Pages : 248
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6 inches
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In stock
$49.95
Paperback
ISBN : 9781526757623
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
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Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
$24.95

Overview
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For the nobility and gentry in later medieval England, land was a source of wealth and status. Their marriages were arranged with this in mind, and it is not surprising that so many of them had mistresses and illegitimate children. John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, married at the age of twenty to a ten-year-old granddaughter of Edward I, had at least eight bastards and a complicated love life.

In theory, bastards were at a considerable disadvantage. Regarded as ‘filius nullius’ or the son of no one, they were unable to inherit real property and barred from the priesthood. In practice, illegitimacy could be less of a stigma in late medieval England than it became between the sixteenth and late twentieth centuries. There were ways of making provision for illegitimate offspring and some bastards did extremely well in the church, through marriage, as soldiers, and a few even succeeding to the family estates.

The Legitimacy of Bastards is the first book to consider the individuals who had illegitimate children, the ways in which they provided for them and attitudes towards both the parents and the bastard children. It also highlights important differences between the views of illegitimacy taken by the Church and by the English law.

About The Author
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Helen Matthews studied medieval history at UCL and Royal Holloway. A chance remark in a footnote inspired her to embark on the thesis on medieval bastards, on which this book is based.

REVIEWS
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It is interesting to note that Helen Matthews studied medieval history at UCL and Royal Holloway when a chance remark in a footnote inspired her to embark on the thesis on medieval bastards, on which "The Legitimacy of Bastards" is based. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a one page Glossary, a fifty-nine pag Anex (Dramatis Personae), a five page Bibliography, and a five page Index, "The Legitimacy of Bastards" is certain to be an enduringly appreciated and valued addition to both community and academic library English Medieval History collections and supplemental studies lists.

- Midwest Book Review

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