While there is increasing interest in the lives of medieval women, the documentary evidence for their activities remains little known. This book provides a collection of sources for an important and influential group of women in medieval England, and examines changes in their role and activities between 1066 and 1500. For most noble and gentry-women, early marriage led to responsibilities for family and household, and, in the absence of their husbands, for the family estates and retainers. Widowhood enabled them to take control of their affairs and to play an independent part in the local community and sometimes further afield. Although many women's lives followed a conventional pattern, great variety existed within family relationships, and individuality can also be seen in religious practices and patronage. Piety could take a number of different forms, whether a woman became a nun, a vowess or a noted philanthropist and benefactor to religious institutions. This volume provides a broad-ranging and accessible coverage of the role of noble women in medieval society. It highlights the significant role played by these women within their families, households, estates and communities.