Every now and then a book comes along that makes you rethink everything. The Legitimacy of Bastards was that book for me! Oh my goodness. I have studied history for years, I have my degrees in it, but there was information in this book that I had never considered. Honestly, it didn’t seem pertinent. How wrong I was!
This is a fabulous book. If you enjoy history, then you need to grab a copy of this book, and read it!
Available now from Pen and Sword Books!
For the nobility and gentry in later medieval England, land was a source of wealth and status. Their marriages were arranged with this in mind, and it is not surprising that so many of them had mistresses and illegitimate children. John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, married at the age of twenty to a ten-year-old granddaughter of Edward I, had at least eight bastards and a complicated love life.
In theory, bastards were at a considerable disadvantage. Regarded as ‘filius nullius’ or the son of no one, they were unable to inherit real property and barred from the priesthood. In practice, illegitimacy could be less of a stigma in late medieval England than it became between the sixteenth and late twentieth centuries. There were ways of making provision for illegitimate offspring and some bastards did extremely well: in the church; through marriage; as soldiers; a few even succeeding to the family estates.
_The Legitimacy of Bastards_ is the first book to consider the individuals who had illegitimate children, the ways in which they provided for them and attitudes towards both the parents and the bastard children. It also highlights important differences between the views of illegitimacy taken by the Church and by the English law.
My Thoughts on the Legitimacy of Bastards:
As I stated above, this book was one that made me sit back and think! I found so much information that I had never considered! We know the side of the royals, they are well documented, but what about the landed gentry? Knights? There are so many different aspects of life that have not been expounded upon as much. This book delved into those shadows. What happens if you had bastard sons, but no legitimate? What about daughters?
These children, although accepted by their parents, were still considered born “on the wrong side of the sheets.” While today, many will turn a blind eye, in medieval times, this was not the case. Illegitimate sons were barred from many types of inheritance, although there were some that found the loopholes.
Helen Matthews brings to light many of these children, their families, and the different aspects of their lives – many of which we may not know about. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learning about a different part of medieval history, one that is not often discussed, except for royal bastards.
This book is definitely worth the read! Grab it now!