Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Member

Dr. Caroline Dunn, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Stephanie Barczewski

Committee Member

Dr. Thomas Kuehn


Widows who lived in fifteenth-century England present an interesting case study for their exercises of agency through personal piety because they are underrepresented in the historiographical discussion on this topic. This thesis focuses largely on widowed laywomen and the different ways in which they could access agency through personal piety and the legal system. The examination of their choices in donations, bequests, and other pious actions reveals widows’ ability to express themselves. The chief focus of this thesis are the ways in which widows’ actions of personal piety provided them with access points to agency, authority, and power. While there has been much study on women’s piety and women’s agency, this study seeks to fill historiographical gaps by combining these aspects of medieval Englishwomen’s lives as they experienced them in the fifteenth century.

Included in

History Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.