Testamentary identities: the evidence of selected wills and testaments from the Dioceses of Norwich and Canterbury, 1450-1530

Marchbank, Alexandra J. (2020) Testamentary identities: the evidence of selected wills and testaments from the Dioceses of Norwich and Canterbury, 1450-1530. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

Historians have long argued over whether the will and testament can be used as accurate evidence of an individual’s life and particularly their religious interests. This project argues for a reconceptualization of these documents, and demonstrates that the will and testament was a document where testators made, rather than just reflected upon, their identities. By comparing the market towns of Faversham (Kent) and Thetford (Norfolk), it specifically questions how the location of production and the gender of the testator shaped the testamentary subject that was produced.

In order to assess how testators used their wills and testaments to undertake identity work, this project uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Statistical analysis is used to identify trends and detailed study of the language of the wills and testaments is employed to provide examples and illustrative detail. Chapter 1 considers the process of will-making in this period, and examines how this process was an act of identity work in and of itself. The subsequent four chapters in turn examine different aspects of the content of these documents in order to further examine identity and its construction in the will and testament.

Ultimately this research demonstrates that the self that is produced in a last will and testament is a construction shaped by a range of forces including legal formulae, local will-making practices, gender, and the agency of the testator.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Lutton, Rob
Scase, Wendy
Keywords: history, medieval, early modern, wills and testaments, identity, England
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
K Law > K Law (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of History
Item ID: 62977
Depositing User: Marchbank, Alexandra
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2021 09:41
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2021 09:45
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/62977

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