In the winter of 1328-1329, Cristina, widow of Thomas Scot, potter of London, was convicted, imprisoned in Newgate and sentenced to hang for the crime of murdering her husband. Her execution was delayed due to her pregnancy. In January or February 1329, Cristina sent a letter to Isabella of France, queen mother, requesting a King’s pardon. On March 2, Edward III pardoned Cristina, at his mother’s request, through letters patent. It appears that Isabella, who had an established reputation as an intercessor for both personal petitions and general political appeals, had successfully interceded on Cristina’s behalf. Although medieval queens- both consorts and dowagers- were frequently asked to intercede and often were an effective avenue to securing pardons for crimes, this particular crime and its pardon provides insight into the networks that medieval women were able to create, as they negotiated an administrative system that was not terribly focused on women’s interests. I analyze the relationship between motherhood, intercession and power within the context of the political dynamics of marriage, gender and widowhood.
I am grateful for the generous support and funding of several research trips from CSU-AAUP, whose funding is crucial to all my work, and from Western Connecticut State University, and from the University of Texas. Thank you to WCSU’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Missy Alexander and to the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jane McBride Gates, and to my colleagues, I am grateful, too, to the anonymous reviewers who drew my attention to recent scholarship that has greatly enriched my own. An earlier version of this article was delivered as a conference paper at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. Thank you to everyone who offered comments.
Copyright © 2015 Katherine Allocco. Permission received to reproduce TNA SC1.42.110 from the Image Library of The National Archives
Allocco, Katherine. "Reginal Intercession and the Case of Cristina, Convicted Murderer." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality
51, no. 1 (2015)
Available at: https://doi.org/10.17077/1536-8742.1964