New book from the Centre for French History and Culture of the University of St Andrews

The Centre for French History and Culture of the University of St Andrews, together with the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution at Florida State University and the Fondation Napoléon in Paris, is pleased to announce the publication of the fifth volume in its series: “St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture”.
The fifth title, now available, is:

“For the Salvation of my Soulˮ: Women and Wills in Medieval and Early Modern France edited by Joëlle Rollo-Koster and Kathryn L. Reyerson

(St Andrews, 2012: ISBN 978-1-907548-08-6 [paperback]; ISBN 978-1-907548-09-3 [e-book])

This volume seeks to investigate the testamentary practices of women in medieval and early modern France, examining the experience of a cross-section of the population, from artisans to the elite, in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Marseille, Montpellier, La Rochelle, Brittany, and Burgundy. The making of a will was perhaps the single most prominent moment in women’s lives for the assertion of agency. Though constrained to some degree by customary practice and the increasing influence of Roman law, women demonstrated remarkable initiative in the formulation of their last wishes. Wills permitted women to reward friendship and loyalty, to designate universal heirs as major beneficiaries, to stipulate conditions of inheritance so that last wishes were carried out, and, perhaps most importantly, to make pious donations to the Church for the salvation of the testators’ souls. They chose their burial sites and arranged for funeral processions, and they endowed anniversary masses for their souls in perpetuity. Individual testamentary decisions differed, as did spousal strategies, but the reinforcement of family ties, even the assertion of relationship, was possible in wills.

Table of Contents:

 Joëlle Rollo-Koster and Kathryn L. Reyerson, "Introduction"

 Joëlle Rollo-Koster, "Item Logo... Item Volo... Is there really an 'I' in Medieval Provençales’ Wills?"

 Francine Michaud, "Family Emotional Outlets? Women’s Wills, Women’s Voices in Medieval Marseille"

 Kathryn L. Reyerson, "Wills of Spouses in Montpellier before 1350: a Case Study of Gender in Testamentary Practice"

 Kathleen Ashley, "Scripts for Funeral Theater: Burgundian Testaments and the Performance of Social Identities"

 Nancy Locklin, "Women and Gift-Giving in Eighteenth-Century Brittany: Wills and Donations"

 Jennifer L. Palmer, "Writing Wills and Families: Constructing Mixed-Race Families in Eighteenth-Century France"



 Published paperback copies will shortly be available in leading world libraries, and may be obtained through on-demand print from the Centre.
E-book files may be consulted and downloaded through the webpage of the Centre for French History and Culture and through the Digital Research Repository of the University of St Andrews. 

The titles in this series are FREE, and libraries are warmly invited to establish an e-book link in their catalogue systems to this series.


Future publications for 2013-14 will include:

The War at Home: Images of French Civilians on the Western Front, 1914-1918 by Nicole Hudgins

 The Legacy of Iconoclasm: Religious War and its Aftermath in the Central Loire Valley, 1550-1750 by Eric Nelson

 Bullets and Balloons: French Airmail during the Siege of Paris by Matthew Loving


For further details on this series, and on how to publish in it, please contact the editor-in-chief, Dr Guy Rowlands, at the University of St Andrews:

Guy Rowlands, M.A. (Oxon.), D.Phil. (Oxon.), F.R.Hist.S.,
Director, Centre for French History and Culture

Published on: 
29 Aug 2012