Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

  The French of England:
Multilingualism in Practice, c. 1100-c. 1500

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English Testators Writing French Wills
Sharon Teague, Rhode Island College and Bryant University

English legal documents written in French provide scholars, especially linguists and legal historians, with one avenue for exploring the multilingual character of medieval England.
This paper will focus on one such document, the medieval will, seeking reasonable explanations why some English men and women chose to write what might arguably be described as the most important document of their lives in French. It will further discuss whether gender, status, or geography may have influenced this choice.

To illustrate this discussion, there will be a closer examination of two testators, the sisters Elizabeth and Philippa de Mohun, whose advantageous marriages raised them to the highest levels of English society. The paper will close with a comparison between those testators in this study who wrote their wills in French, and those who chose instead the “other” vernacular, English.

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