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Women Smiths (was: Out of Persona Activities)

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  • Sharon L. Krossa
    ... With regard to the specific question of smithing by (non-noble) women, from my PhD dissertation (note in particular the final sentence): Krossa, Sharon L.
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 31, 2007
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      At 12:19 AM +0000 9/1/07, Sarah wrote:
      >What does one do with activities that are either out of time period
      >for your persona or not "gender appropriate" for your persona. I am
      >interested in many of the metal working arts (blade making, armor
      >making, and farrier work) but as my perspective persona (I haven't
      >completely decided yet so this may change) is a 16th century noble
      >woman it wouldn't be historically accurate for a noble woman (and I
      >haven't found any documentation on any women metalsmiths).

      With regard to the specific question of smithing by (non-noble)
      women, from my PhD dissertation (note in particular the final
      sentence):

      Krossa, Sharon L. "A Study of Expectations: Women in the Burgh of
      Aberdeen in the Later Middle Ages". Ph.D. thesis, University of
      Aberdeen, 1998. Pages 178-9:

      -----being quote of Krossa pp. 178-9-----
      The Smiths were one of the incorporated crafts, and smithing was limited to
      burgesses or burgess households.397

      On 22 November 1501,

      ... It was fundin & deliverit be ye saide assiss with ye
      avyss ande Infermatoun of ye smythtis best and
      worthiast of ye tone yat cristiane smitht sister & ayr to
      vmquhile Andro smytht aw to haue thir gudis of
      ayrschipe In ye first ane gret styddy & aine smale stidy
      ane forhammir with ane hand hammir ane gret tayngis
      & ane small tangis ane per off schoing lvmys yat js a
      boytour a tarches a schoing kniff I schoing hammir ane
      per of bellys ane gret nayldaill & ane birll ane suerd
      Ande ya best & soundest of ale Instrumentis pertenin to
      his craft 398

      This raises some interesting questions about Christine Smith's connection to
      the smith craft. She inherited smithing equipment from her brother (who was
      identified as her father in another entry), and presumably she would
      also have had the
      right to burgess status, official or unofficial, as well. There are
      several possibilities.
      Did she set up as a smith herself, either working herself or
      supervising others working
      in her name? Perhaps the tools were put to use by her husband or
      future husband. Or
      did she sell the tools? Christine Smith married George Saddler, but
      no indication of
      his occupation was found. A George Saddler appears being made burgess
      in 1502, but
      with no craft indicated.399

      The smiths were not as closely and frequently regulated as the baxters, and so
      there are not enough entries naming specific smiths who have broken town
      regulations from which to determine the genders involved in smithing.
      That men were
      smiths is known by the men so identified in entries unrelated to
      their smithing, but
      women were not typically identified by their craft in unrelated
      entries. So currently
      there is no way of knowing which of these possibilities is the most likely.

      The entry does demonstrate that gender did not affect an individual's right to
      inherit craft tools, whether or not they were able to practice the
      craft themselves.
      Christine's gender does not seem to have been an issue at all in the
      case. Women
      smiths were found in fifteenth century York, so it would not be
      shockingly unusual
      for there to have been women smiths in Aberdeen.400
      -----end quote of Krossa pp. 178-9-----

      Where the footnotes are:

      -----begin quote of Krossa pp. 178-9 footnotes-----
      394. For example, ACR, viii, 623; ACR, x, 368 (B); ACR, xvii, 185,
      376, 377; ACR, xviii, 251. See
      also Gemmill and Mayhew, Changing Values in Medieval Scotland, 42.

      395. For example, ACR, viii, 623; ACR, x, 368 (B); ACR, xvii, 185,
      376, 377; and ACR, xviii, 251.

      396. For example, ACR, viii, 623; ACR, x, 368 (B); ACR, xvii, 185,
      376, 377; and ACR, xviii, 251.
      See the section entitled "Determining Named Occupations for Women and
      Men", page 151 ff.,
      above.

      397. See the section entitled "Determining Named Occupations for
      Women and Men" in this chapter,
      page 151 ff., above.

      398. ACR, viii, 32.

      399. ACR, viii, 172; ASR, i, 998, 1006; and ASR, ii, 399.

      400. Heather Swanson, Medieval Artisans: An Urban Class in Late
      Medieval England (Oxford: Basil
      Blackwell, 1989), 68, 71-2, 74, 80.
      -----end quote of Krossa pp. 178-9 footnotes-----

      Affrick
      --
      Sharon Krossa, PhD - skrossa-yg@...
      Resources for Scottish history, names, clothing, language & more:
      Medieval Scotland - http://MedievalScotland.org/
      Shopping Online? Help support! - http://MedievalScotland.org/patron/
      The most complete index of reliable web articles about pre-1600 names:
      The Medieval Names Archive - http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/
    • Sandra Dodd
      -=-What does one do with activities that are either out of time period for your persona or not gender appropriate for your persona. I am interested in many
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 1 7:31 AM
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        -=-What does one do with activities that are either out of time period
        for your persona or not "gender appropriate" for your persona. I am
        interested in many of the metal working arts (blade making, armor
        making, and farrier work) but as my perspective persona (I haven't
        completely decided yet so this may change) is a 16th century noble
        woman it wouldn't be historically accurate for a noble woman (and I
        haven't found any documentation on any women metalsmiths). I'm not
        just interested in metalsmithing but any one who has dealt with trying
        to make something they enjoy mesh with their persona.-=-

        That's one of the drawbacks of serious focus on persona.
        What does your persona do about being around people of a 600 year or
        more timespan other times?

        Some kingdoms are not very persona-focussed, and some are moreso.
        Same with baronies, and households. In some places people are more
        likely to have either multiple personae or just lots of costumes from
        different periods and for different purposes. They will dress to the
        theme of the event.

        Years ago, when the only other similar group was the Civil War guys,
        it was easy to contrast the two. They were doing a particular thing
        in a particular time. I used to describe the SCA as a medieval-
        studies co-op.

        In a medieval studies co-op, people share what they know in exchange
        for learning what other people know. Learning about blacksmithing
        would help you appreciate metalwork when you see it, from then on,
        just like beginning to learn an instrument is valuable even if you
        abandon the project, because afterwards you appreciate what it takes
        to be good at such an instrument.

        -=- it wouldn't be historically accurate for a noble woman-=-

        I've made tents and done calligraphy and cooked and sung and taught
        classes at events, but if my persona includes being a noblewoman (for
        being a peer and a countess, if not just for the "we're all of the
        gentry" assumption), I'm already doing things that wouldn't be
        historically accurate for a noblewoman. I do my own laundry and
        dishes.

        Each person finds a comfortable landing concerning persona, but maybe
        some of those ideas will help.

        AElflaed of Duckford,
        Outlands




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • bronwynmgn@aol.com
        In a message dated 9/1/2007 5:10:55 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com writes:
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 1 9:49 AM
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          In a message dated 9/1/2007 5:10:55 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
          Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com writes:

          <<What does one do with activities that are either out of time period
          for your persona or not "gender appropriate" for your persona. I am
          interested in many of the metal working arts (blade making, armor
          making, and farrier work) but as my perspective persona (I haven't
          completely decided yet so this may change) is a 16th century noble
          woman it wouldn't be historically accurate for a noble woman (and I
          haven't found any documentation on any women metalsmiths). >>

          In general, do the activities. A lot of it may be done away from events,
          where your persona won't matter. If doing them at an event or demo, dress
          appropriately to the work you are doing and don't mention your persona to those
          watching and asking questions - your persona at that moment is an armourer,
          regardless of what she might be during the later feast and dancing. Lots of
          folks have multiple personas for a variety of reasons.

          There is an East Kingdom Metalsmith's guild, which I I think has a yahoo
          list. As many of the guild members are women, I wouldn't be surprised if they
          have amassed references to female metalsmiths. I know that there is at least
          one medieval bell on which is engraved "Johanna made me" (in Latin, of
          course, and name genders are pretty clear in Latin), but I can't for the life of me
          remember where I found that tidbit of info...

          Brangwayna Morgan




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