The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Robertson, D. W., Jr. "'And for my land thus hastow mordred me?': Land Tenure, the Cloth Industry, and the Wife of Bath." 14 (1980): 403-20.
In medieval law, land could not be owned: rather, it was "held," most often by a lord. Women could inherit if there were no male heirs. Under some laws, bourgeois women could gain all of their husbands' property once they were widowed and retain it even if they remarried. In this manner, bourgeois women could gain more independence than aristocratic women. The historical situation of Margery Haynes, a writer of the mid-fifteenth century, suggests what the Wife of Bath's situation might have been like and how her property might have been legally handled for her benefit.