No more striking witness to the confidence reposed by husbands in the business capacity of their wives is to be found than the wills and letters of the later Middle Ages. It is impossible to read through any great collection of medieval wills, such as the Testamenta Eboracensia, published by the Surtees Society, without observing the number of cases in which a wife is made the executrix of her husband’s will, sometimes alone and sometimes as principal in conjunction with other persons. More than once a touch of feeling enlivens the legal phraseology, as when John Sothill of Dewsbury bids his executors, ‘I pray you, pray Thomas my son in my name and for ye lufe of God, yat he never strife with his moder, as he will have my blissyng, for he sall fynd his curtos to del withall’.

C. G. Crump & E.F. Jacob, The Legacy of the Middle Ages (1951)


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