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Medieval Single WomenThe Politics of Social Classification in Late Medieval England$
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Cordelia Beattie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199283415

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283415.001.0001

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The Single Woman in Fiscal Discourse

The Single Woman in Fiscal Discourse

Chapter:
(p.62) 3 The Single Woman in Fiscal Discourse
Source:
Medieval Single Women
Author(s):

Cordelia Beattie (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283415.003.0004

This chapter argues that nominative tax returns should not only be understood as pragmatic documents, which were created in response to a fiscal demand, but also as value-laden texts, which are revealing of how certain groups conceptualized society and the people within it. It demonstrates this with particular reference to the unmarried, female taxpayer in 1379, by analysing how the category ‘single woman’ is used in relation to other categories, such as ‘widow’, ‘daughter’, or an occupational status, including ‘servant’. The return for the borough of Bishop's Lynn in Norfolk is the main text, but it is also compared with other poll tax returns. The returns offer different and conflicting representations of the unmarried, female taxpayer and not all of these are ones necessitated by the tax criteria. There is a particularly telling intersection between work identity and widowhood or daughterhood.

Keywords:   tax returns, poll tax, widow, daughter, occupational status, servant, work, Bishop's Lynn

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