Caitlin HoltonChange photo
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    • My current research examines masculinity and homosociality in medieval Scotland through analysis of documentary and literary sources. I began this research during my Masters deg... moreedit
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    Literary texts have formed the basis of much previous work on gender; however, there is an increasing demand for other types of evidence. One possible source of information is charters, records of land transactions and other legal... more
    Literary texts have formed the basis of much previous work on gender; however, there is an increasing demand for other types of evidence. One possible source of information is charters, records of land transactions and other legal accounts. The gendered nature of these sources may not be immediately apparent, however, they provide important clues as to how men in the Middle Ages where expected to engage with each other. The values underpinning so-called ‘feudal societies’ provided men with a normative framework from which to construct their own masculine sensitivities. Through examination of these types of relationships it is possible to begin to untangle the web of societal expectations governing the interactions of men in medieval Scotland.
    Kinship and lordship are often considered to have been the most important social bonds for men in the Middle Ages, and the strength of these bonds cited as the reason for everything from war to marriage. The evidence appearing in Scottish charters reaffirms the significance of these ties, however, this evidence also suggests that friendship played an equally central role. Charters, rarely used as sources for gendered interpretations can provide important and valuable glimpses into the elite social spaces of late medieval Scotland.
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    If war is the proving ground of men, what do accounts of medieval warfare indicate about conceptions of medieval masculinity? By examining the accounts of battles during the Scottish Wars of Independence as told by the authors of epics... more
    If war is the proving ground of men, what do accounts of medieval warfare indicate about conceptions of medieval masculinity? By examining the accounts of battles during the Scottish Wars of Independence as told by the authors of epics and chronicles we find evidence of the normative expectations of men in war. Figures, like James Douglas, hero of The Bruce (c. 1370), had to be grounded in a social reality and reflective of masculine cultural norms. The acts for which Douglas and others like him were praised or condemned reflect ideals of elite masculinity in medieval Scotland. Yet this masculinity often deviated from chivalric codes of behaviour. Rather than limiting their heroic value, deviance in these cases often increases a man’s prestige in these texts. Careful examination of the contexts and situations of deviance provides insight into the mental landscape of men in medieval Scotland, highlighting the importance of a prescriptive force at times stronger than chivalric values. A study of epics and chronicles like The Bruce challenges the assumption that medieval masculinity was always tied to chivalry; accounts of figures like James Douglas indicate that there were alternative elite masculinities that deviated from or outright contradicted chivalric codes of behaviour.
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