Abstract

The early life stages of elite women in high medieval France and England were shaped by marriage to a considerable degree. Marriage prospects influenced their early education and place of residence, and the ceremony itself served as a symbolic rite of passage into "adulthood," something reflected in the vocabulary used to describe elite women. Nevertheless, since elite women generally married around the age of puberty or even earlier, contemporaries often showed consideration for the youth of recently married women, introducing them only gradually to adult sexual and social responsibilities and providing special caregivers for their protection and guidance. Full social adulthood for these women thus could arrive at different times, depending on each woman's age at marriage, early education, social position, motherhood, personality, and other factors.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 22-46
Launched on MUSE
2001-01-01
Open Access
No
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