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Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare (1295-1360)

Noble widows were powerful figures in the later Middle Ages, running their own estates and exercising considerable influence. Elizabeth de Burgh (1295-1360), daughter of one of the most powerful earls in England and cousin of Edward II, lost her third husband at the age of twenty-six, and spent the rest of her life as a widow. In 1317, having inherited one-third of the lands of her brother, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, who had been killed at Bannockburn three years earlier, she established herself at Clare, which became her main administrative centre for her estates in East Anglia, Dorset and South Wales. She enjoyed a noble lifestyle, was lavish in her hospitality to family and friends, entertaining Edward III in 1340, and she displayed her piety through her patronage of religious houses and her foundation of Clare College in Cambridge. Her life and activities are portrayed in vivid detail in her household accounts and her will, selected extracts from which are provided in this volume. Altogether, 102 accounts of various types survive from the years of her widowhood, and the records here have been chosen to illustrate the great range of information provided, throwing light on Clare castle itself and its furnishings, daily life and religious practice, visitors, food and drink, livery and retainers, travel, and business. They paint of a vivid picture of the life and work of a noble family in the fourteenth century. Jennifer Ward taught and researched medieval and regional history at Goldsmiths College, University of London, until her retirement.
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We cannot overestimate the value of this edition, especially since it sheds so much light on the life of the female head of a noble household. MEDIAEVISTIK Jennifer Ward has done valuable service in making such a feast of documentation available. BROWN BOOK [T]his text is best suited for student use as an introduction to many types of medieval sources, their language, and their purview and for its affordable price point for a collection of primary sources. Ward's translations make these sources accessible for students, instead of just a reproduction of texts that would be aimed at specialists. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW The will is perhaps the most illuminating document in the book, revealing an independent, pious, extraordinarily wealthy, generous and well-respected woman of the Middle Ages. SUFFOLK VIEW Students of medieval history will find it an intriguing insight into the daily life of a noblewoman. TLS

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