Recent research on both contemporary and historical societies argues for the importance of women's independent access to credit as a positive force for empowerment of the women concerned and for wider economic development. This article investigates this issue for rural England between c.1290 and c.1380 using debt litigation records from two well-documented manor courts. The article concludes that involvement in credit networks brought little female empowerment in medieval English villages because relatively few women acted as independent lenders and borrowers. However, local credit networks featured women more prominently in some places than others, and reasons for this are advanced.
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