24 August 2012

Free ebook explores women and wills in French history

NEW published Aug 2012:
"For the salvation of my soul": women and wills in medieval and early modern France edited by Joƫlle Rollo-Koster and Kathryn L. Reyerson
ISBN 978-1-907548-09-3

We are delighted to announce the publication of volume 5 in the St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture series, available from Research@StAndrews:FullText. This open access ebook is the latest to be published by the St Andrews Centre for French History and Culture, free for consultation, downloading, printing or circulation, either for private use or for educational purposes. The earlier volumes have had a high number of downloads and initial indications are that this new title will continue this success.
This volume seeks to investigate the testamentary practices of women in medieval and early modern France, examining the experience of a cross-section of the population, from artisans to the elite, in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Marseille, Montpellier, La Rochelle, Brittany, and Burgundy. The making of a will was perhaps the single most prominent moment in women's lives for the assertion of agency. Though constrained to some degree by customary practice and the increasing influence of Roman law, women demonstrated remarkable initiative in the formulation of their last wishes. Wills permitted women to reward friendship and loyalty, to designate universal heirs as major beneficiaries, to stipulate conditions of inheritance so that last wishes were carried out, and, perhaps most importantly, to make pious donations to the Church for the salvation of the testators' souls. They chose their burial sites and arranged for funeral processions, and they endowed anniversary masses for their souls in perpetuity. Individual testamentary decisions differed, as did spousal strategies, but the reinforcement of family ties, even the assertion of relationship, was possible in wills.
The series can be accessed online from our repository and is also available as print-on-demand from the Centre for French History and Culture.