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Chapter Summary

This chapter is concerned with the main sources to be used to assess the property, power, marriage and identity of widows, and to undertake the family reconstruction fundamental to this, in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Iceland and Yorkshire. These sources are the Icelandic and English legal statements, the contemporary sagas and charters. They vary considerably in form, content, nature and usefulness. The Icelandic legal texts in which evidence on widows, and on family and inheritance relevant to them, is contained, are those now known collectively as Grágás. In Iceland, the sources to be used for comparison are the contemporary sagas, mainly found in the compilation known today as Sturlunga saga. Charters give a more complete picture of widows, their families, their property and the opportunities available to them, and thus offer better material for assessment. The investigation of charters can help to illuminate many topics other than diplomatic studies.

Keywords: charters; contemporary sagas; Iceland; legal statements; widows; Yorkshire

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