Women engaged in litigation in Nottingham's borough court as both plaintiffs and defendants for a variety of reasons relating to trade, household provisioning, misbehavior and interpersonal disputes. This article examines how women's litigation was determined by the doctrine of coverture and the way that women's marital status shaped and defined their experience of the law. In doing so, it explores how these pleas reveal the workings of the marital partnership within a late medieval English town. In order to contextualize the experiences of women “under coverture,” the article first traces the ways in which all manner of female marital and household identities were documented in the court records, analyzing the descriptors that court scribes attached to individual women's names. The article highlights inconsistency in the way that women's identities were recorded and in the way that the marital partnership was represented through the litigation of spouses in the borough court. The dual focus of this article not only adds new evidence to ongoing discussions of the nature of medieval coverture but also interrogates how we identify coverture and women's marital statuses based on the evidence of court records.
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