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By Kari Maund

The daughter of 1 king and the sweetheart of one other; matriarch of a robust dynasty and the reason for clash and battle: Nest, princess of Dyfed, turned a legend. over the years of the Norman invasion and conquest of South Wales, she was once the pal, best friend, confidant and temptress of kings, princes and barons. After the loss of life in conflict of her father, Rhys ap Tewdwr, the final king of South Wales, Nest was once torn from kin and state to develop up a hostage on the Norman court docket. Henry I made her his mistress and he or she bore him a lovechild, earlier than giving her in marriage to Gerald of Windsor, the lord who governed her father's former nation for the Normans. this may have gained her the enmity of her Welsh compatriots, yet Nest walked the tightrope of international relations with ability and care. not just did her Welsh neighbours respect her - they wanted her for themselves. whilst Owain ap Cadwgan, chief of the Welsh resistance, kidnapped her from her domestic below the nostril of her husband and his guards, Henry I himself intervened, either to safe peace and to guard his former mistress from censure or punishment. during this such a lot interesting of biographies, Kari Maund finds Nest's function in a single of the main interesting and dynamic classes of Welsh, Irish and English heritage. Her lifestyles offers an extraordinary chance to discover the function of ladies in early Wales, and the way a Welsh princess may perhaps keep watch over a Norman king...

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The Normans, as we'll see, took a unique view. The Normans have got a nasty press for his or her attitudes to girls: they've been blamed for either a degradation of girl rights in England, and, extra lately, within the Celtic-speaking nations. thirteen In either situations, this judgement was once dependent in fairly specific pre-conceptions concerning the prestige of girls in England, Wales or eire within the pre-Norman interval, and, certainly, in pre-conceptions approximately their local cultures, Anglo-Saxon or ‘Celtic’ and, certainly, approximately these cultures themselves. 14 As Pauline Stafford has proven, for the case of britain, the realities have been slightly diversified. For Wales, Professor Wendy Davies has long past a way to re-assessing the placement of girls, yet extra paintings is required. 15 In 1093, Nest stood poised among worlds: that of her Welsh blood, and that of her new overlords. to appreciate her, we have to know how these new lords considered girls, what they anticipated of them, and what half they performed within the very important approach of the transmission and inheritance of land, items and standing. while he was once topped in Westminster Abbey on five August 1100, the hot King Henry I issued a coronation constitution, addressing many of the concerns which had occupied his new matters through the reign of his predecessor, William Rufus – and specifically the rights of the clergy, of noble males and of noble ladies. The clauses bearing on particularly to ladies learn as follows: If any of my barons or of my tenants shall desire to provide in marriage his daughter or his sister or his niece or his cousin, he shall seek advice me in regards to the topic; yet i'm going to neither search check for my consent, nor will I refuse my permission, except he needs to provide her in marriage to 1 of my enemies. And if, at the demise of 1 of my barons or of 1 of my tenants, a daughter could be his inheritor, i'll eliminate her in marriage and of her lands based on the information given me through my barons. And if the spouse of 1 of my tenants shall continue to exist her husband and be with out kids, she shall have her dower and her marriage component, and that i won't supply her in marriage until she herself agrees. If a widow survives with little ones less than age, she shall have her dower and her marriage component, as long as she retains her physique chaste; and that i won't provide her in marriage other than together with her consent. And the father or mother of the land, and of the kids, will probably be both the widow or one other in their kin, as could seem extra right. and that i order that my barons shall act likewise in the direction of the little kids and widows in their males. sixteen the worries this unearths are greatly these we have now already met within the context of medieval Welsh legislations: the correct keep an eye on and transmission of estate and land; the rights of fellows over their kinswomen; and the rights of girls over the products or rights granted to them on marriage. it's not, in fact, a definitive assertion at the rights and standing of ladies in Anglo-Norman England on the sunrise of the 12th century. The constitution is worried with estate rights, and hence with the pursuits of the higher social periods.

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