«The development of the family into a small unit in which descent was traced almost exclusively through the male line is regarded as a major turning ...»
Of lay wills, in other words excluding those of rulers and clergy, some twenty-four survive from the period 950±1016 (13 men, 8 women, 3 couples); some eight from the period 805±950 (5 men, 2 women, 1 couple); some eighteen from the period 1016±1066 (14 men, 2 women, 2 couples).
For related discussion of such statistics, Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance, pp. 48±80.
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) 380 Andrew Wareham strong bonds of kinship and friendship with the royal family and the episcopate, many of whom had trained as monks, ideological constraints tended to emanate from royal and monastic programmes.15 A number of issues have to be kept in mind when reading AngloSaxon wills. One or two wills may have disposed of all of testators' estates and chattels, but the overwhelming majority only summarized partial distributions of testators' assets and were often drawn up when testators sensed the approach of death.16 In general, wills were religious documents in which people settled their accounts with God, including bequests to at least one religious community, with varying proportions and types of wealth being set aside for these purposes.17 Some further observations are worthy of note: royal wills tended to dispose of acquisitions addressing secular more than spiritual concerns, and wills drawn up by members of families of royal service sometimes involved the donation of estates which had recently been granted by kings to testators or their kin.18 In broad terms the wills directly echo the issues raised in the confraternity books: in three-®fths of testaments, the salvation of testators' kin is also mentioned in addition to that of their own souls;
and three-quarters of testators bequeathed gifts to distant as well as near kin.19 Relationships between monks, nuns and kinsfolk stand at the very centre of these testaments, and these ties were envisaged as complementary and co-operative associations, with gifts to both lay and ecclesiastical legatees ful®lling a common set of spiritual objectives.20 Testators belonging to the royal kin Between the ®rst and the second half of the tenth century the relationship between the monarchy and the church changed from royal support P. Stafford, Uni®cation and Conquest: A Social and Political History of England in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries (London, 1989), p. 87, for statistics on episcopal recruitment from monastic ranks.
Lancaster, `Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society', pp. 238±9; K. Lowe, `The Nature and Evidence of Anglo-Saxon Wills', Journal of Legal History 19 (1998), pp. 23±61, at pp. 38±9.
Two examples from continental Europe point to betweeen 90% and 80% of wills including pious bequests: S. Epstein, Wills and Wealth in Medieval Genoa 1150±1250 (Cambridge, MA, È 1985), p. 139; A. von Brandt, `Mittelalterliche Burgertestamente: neuerschlossene Quellen zur Geschichte der materiellen und geistigen Kultur', Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, philosophisch-historische Klasse (1973), III, p. 18; for similar patterns in early medieval Catalonian wills, A.M. Udina, La successio testatada a la Catalunya (Madrid, 1984).
Wormald, `Kingship and Royal Property', pp. 264±79; C. Hart, `The Ealdordom of Essex', in K. Neale (ed.), An Essex Tribute: Essays Presented to Frederick G. Emmison as a Tribute to His Life and Work for Essex History and Archives (London, 1987), pp. 57±81, at pp. 70±1.
The contrast with the later Middle Ages is sharp. R. Dinn, `Death and Rebirth in Late Medieval Bury St Edmunds', in S.R. Bassett (ed.), Death in Towns: Urban Responses to the Dying and the Dead, 100±1600 (Leicester, 1992), pp. 151±69, at 158: over half of the wills in which prayer bequests are listed only mention the testators' own souls; 15% refer to friends; and 13% to relatives.
W., no. 15 (S 1486), p. 40, l. 16; no. 17, p. 50, l. 12; Lancaster, `Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society', p. 266.
Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) # Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Transformation of kinship and family of monasticism to one in which kings sought to implement monastic reform in local areas.21 These developments had an impact upon the preparations for salvation made by noblemen and noblewomen who shared bonds of kinship with the royal family. In the early tenth century, nobles who shared agnatic or af®nal ties (related through marriage) with the royal family did not draw attention to these bonds in their testaments, but in the late tenth century their successors linked the salvation of their own souls to kings' charity or spiritual salvation. This differentiation can be illustrated by comparing the will of Wyn¯ñd, drawn up c.950, with the testaments of Ealdorman álfheah and álfgifu, drawn up in the late 960s and early 970s. All three testators may have been connected to the royal family through bonds of marriage and were buried in the great royal abbeys and nunneries. Whereas Ealdorman álfheah and álfgifu left just over half of their estates to the royal family and emphasized the spiritual links between their own souls and King Edgar's soul, Wyn¯ñd did not bequeath any estates to members of the royal family, and nor did she explicitly link the salvation of her own soul to King Edmund's spiritual welfare.
Will of Wyn¯ñd, Shaftesbury nunnery archive, c.950 Wyn¯ñd has been tentatively identi®ed as the mother-in-law of King Edmund and niece of Bishop Alfred of Sherborne.22 In her testament matrilineal and patrilineal ideologies of kinship were kept in equilibrium. Wyn¯ñd had inherited an estate from her mother Brihtwyn, and two of Wyn¯ñd's other estates lay about ten to ®fteen kilometres from one of Brihtwyn's properties.23 In her testament Wyn¯ñd disposed of the following: two Dorset estates; one estate in Wiltshire, possibly acquired from the crown; and a residence, perhaps in Dorset, which she had inherited from her mother.24 One estate was granted to the Shaftesbury nunnery, but the other properties passed to her daughter, áthel¯ñd, along with numerous household chattels.25 In return áthel¯ñd had `to be mindful' of her mother's soul, and was asked to oversee gifts of men and stock from these three estates to two royal nunneries and two royal minsters in the south-west. Through these transactions vertical bonds of female kinship linking the grandmother, D.N. Dumville, `Learning and the Church in the England of King Edmund I, 939±46', in idem, Wessex and England from Alfred to Edgar: Six Essays on Political, Cultural and Ecclesiastical Revival (Woodbridge, 1992), pp. 173±84.
W., p. 109; Charters of Shaftesbury Abbey, ed. S.E. Kelly, Anglo-Saxon Charters 5 (London, 1996), pp. xiii±xiv.
W., no. 4 (S 1539), p. 14, ls. 29±30; Charters of Shaftesbury Abbey, ed. Kelly, nos. 13, 26.
W., no. 4, p. 10, ls. 7±15. She had the title deed to Ebbesborne (Wilts.), possibly a royal grant.
For other Ebbesborne grants by the crown, S 522; S 635; S 640; S 696; S 861.
W., no. 4, p. 10, ls. 7±15.
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Brihtwyn, to her granddaughter, áthel¯ñd, were emphasized. The spiritual relationship between áthel¯ñd and the Shaftesbury nunnery gave value to horizontal female kinship ties, forging an alliance between áthel¯ñd, her sister who was buried at Shaftesbury, and her royal mother-in-law.
The strength of patrilineal ideologies was demonstrated by the bequest of four estates in Hampshire and Berkshire.26 As one of these estates had been Wyn¯ñd's marriage gift from her husband, it seems likely that the remaining three estates had also passed from her husband's resources. Wyn¯ñd bequeathed these estates to Eadmñr, identi®ed as her son, and when his son (Eadwold) reached his majority, he was to receive two of these properties.27 Eadmñr was required to make gifts in coin and stock to ®ve minsters in Berkshire, which had no known connections with the monarchy or with Wyn¯ñd's own family. Estates which had descended from Wyn¯ñd's family of birth and the royal ®sc were used to emphasize ties between kinswomen in association with royal nunneries and minsters in the south-west, whereas estates acquired from her husband were used to focus attention upon the male line of descent linking grandfather to grandson in association with a group of non-royal minsters in Berkshire.
Will of Ealdorman álfheah, Winchester Old Minster archive, c.968 x 71 Ealdorman álfheah married álfswith, King Edmund's kinswoman, and that bond of kinship was further reinforced when álfheah stood as cogodparent with Queen álfthryth, wife of King Edgar.28 In his will álfheah donated estates to her and her children, the ñthelings Edmund and áthelred, as well as to King Edgar.29 álfheah's friendship with successive bishops of Winchester served to increase his knowledge of the reform movement's programme.30 In his will he restricted his religious donations to the great Benedictine abbeys founded by the monarchy, with the intention of primarily establishing ties between these houses and his kinsmen. His brother, Ealdorman álfhere, his two nephews and his kinsman áthelweard each received one or two estates Ibid., p. 10, ls. 15±27; p. 12, ls. 23±4.
On kinship, ibid., p. 110. On property, the exception to this pattern was Wyn¯ñd's marriage gift, Faccombe, which after the death of Eadmñr was to pass to her daughter (áthel¯ñd) and then to her grandson Eadwold. Wyn¯ñd may have included her daughter áthel¯ñd because she had greater control over her marriage gift than over the other estates (Adderbury, Coleshill, Inglesham) received from her husband.
W., no. 9 (S 1485), p. 22, l. 22.
Ibid., p. 22, ls. 14±17; 22±5.
On wider connections, Williams, `Princeps Merciorum', pp. 150±3; N.P. Brooks, `The Career of Saint Dunstan', in N. Ramsay, M. Sparks and T. Tatton-Brown (eds.), St Dunstan: His Life, Times and Cult (Woodbridge, 1992), pp. 1±23, at pp. 6, 11; S.D. Keynes, `The Dunstan B Charters', ASE 23 (1994), pp. 165±93, at p. 193.
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in his testament, but the only kinswoman mentioned was his widow.
She was `to remember God zealously, and to be zealous for the welfare of our souls'.31 Through these bequests, ties between a series of agnates over two generations were emphasized and given value, but the honour of taking care of álfheah's and his ancestors' souls was reserved in a lay context to his son, álfweard. On álfheah's death Batcombe, which he and his wife álfswith had received from King Edmund, passed ®rstly to her, then to álfweard and ®nally to Glastonbury abbey, for the sake of `our father and mother and of us all'.32 It was to his own parents' souls that álfheah drew special attention. His son, álfweard, was entrusted with passing Batcombe on to Glastonbury for the salvation of a wide kin-group, but the emphasis was upon the male line of descent linking paternal grandparents to grandson.
In both Wyn¯ñd's and álfheah's testaments attention was drawn to patrilineal descent (from father to son) across three generations, but in other respects there was a shift in attitudes towards kinship. This suggests that in the years around c.950, when Wyn¯ñd's will was written, matrilineal descent complemented patrilineal descent, but in the late 960s (the time of the composition of the will of álfheah), the latter was complemented by ties with the royal family and extended agnatic kinship ties. These two examples will need to be tested in detail against a wider survey of wills from each of these decades,33 but for the present they form part of a recognizable continuum.
álfgifu, Winchester Old Minster archive, c.966 x 75 álfgifu, a fourth-generation descendant of King áthelred I, married her kinsman, King Eadwig (d. 959), a fourth-generation descendant of King áthelred I's youngest brother, King Alfred.34 After Eadwig's and álfgifu's marriage had been dissolved in 958, she continued to be a benefactress of communities associated with the royal family and with Bishop áthelwold.35 Eadwig had been buried in the New Minster Winchester, and in her testament álfgifu asked to be buried in the Old Minster, which was to receive her shrine with its relics, a 30-hide estate at Princes Risborough (Bucks.) and other gifts, including W., no. 9, p. 22, ls. 25±31.
Ibid., p. 24, ls. 1±6. In the event of álfweard predeceasing his uncles, they were to have responsibility for granting Batcombe to Glastonbury.
W., nos. 2 (S 1483), 14 (S 1494), and 15 are particularly instructive in this context.
S 367 for con®rmation in 903 at Ealdorman áthelfrith's request of Athulf's grant of Princes Risborough to his daughter áthelgyth, presumed to be áthelfrith's wife, and the mother or grandmother of álfgifu, the testator; for further discussion, S.D. Keynes, `A Charter of King Edward for Islington', Historical Research 66 (1993), pp. 303±16, at pp. 308±9.
B. Yorke, `áthelwold and the Politics of the Tenth Century', in eadem (ed.), Bishop áthelwold:
His Career and In¯uence (Woodbridge, 1988), pp. 89±118, at pp. 79±80.
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) Fig. 3 Family tree of álfgifu and Ealdorman áthelweard
200 mancuses.36 Each year álfgifu's siblings, Ealdorman áthelweard the Chronicler, álfweard and álfwaru were to grant the Old and the New Minsters two days of food renders from two estates, which were to pass on their deaths to the monks of the Old and New Minsters.37 One estate was only a few kilometres from an estate which álfgifu had received from King Edgar in 966, and which was left in her testament to one of Edgar's sons.38 álfgifu may have hoped that her royal nephew would join his uncles and aunt in making gifts to Winchester for her soul's bene®t from these two neighbouring estates.