‘Women Negotiating the Boundaries of Justice' is funded by a Research Grant of £854,599 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and will run for four years, finishing in September 2018.

The project investigates how women in Britain and Ireland, c.1100-c.1750, actively participated in the legal process, the choices available to them, and the obstacles and opportunities they confronted. In challenging the view that women were simply passive recipients of legal judgements, our research will explore the strategies they used to negotiate and even subvert the law in order to achieve their objectives.

Our exciting new project will further understanding through its comparative focus. We do not assume a single relationship between women and the law. Rather, we explore the extent to which their experiences were influenced by national boundaries, language, ethnicity, confessional identity, life-cycle stage, and social status.

The sources for the project include the records of both secular and church courts and encompass civil, canon and criminal jurisdictions. This range of sources allows us to assess the impact of different jurisdictions on womens’ agency. It also helps us to understand the ways in which women voices were mediated by attorneys, the requirements of legal processes, and their own strategic aims.

The project is directed by the Principal Investigator, Dr Deborah Youngs of Swansea University, along with Co-Investigators Dr Garthine Walker (Cardiff University) and Dr Alex Shepard (University of Glasgow). The team comprises three Research Assistants at Swansea University, Dr Sparky Booker, Dr Emma Cavell, and Dr Teresa Phipps, and provides two fully funded PhD positions: Elizabeth Howard (Cardiff University) and Rebecca Mason (University of Glasgow)