What rights did noblewomen have during the Middle Ages?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The rights of women varied greatly with period, country, religion, and specific degree of nobility. For example, if a king had no male heirs, in England, a woman could be queen, and inherit of her father’s material possessions as well as the kingdom. Unmarried women could own property.

In Christian countries, married women could not hold property as individuals, but their property became part of their husband’s estate. If the husband predeceased them, they had the right to on third of their husband’s estate during their life time. Muslim married women had property rights that English women were not granted until the 19th century married women’s property act.

Unmarried women had full property rights. Nuns could become abbesses, a position of significant power, although the Council of Whitby ended the practice of mitred abbesses.


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