Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 1999-07 > 0932402297

From: Kay Allen AG <>
Subject: Re: An Adult in the Middle Ages
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 09:38:17 -0700

Chris Dickinson wrote:
> Kay Allen writes :
> "
> 21 for males was the age of majority, at which time an heir
> could
> assume control of his property. This may well be what
> W & S means by adult by 1227, which would mean that he was
> born before
> 1206. When I calculate a birth date by assumption of the
> property, I
> take the date of assumption, if there was no guardianship,
> and subtract
> 21. In most cases, the source will say that he came into his
> property in
> such and such a date. That would be the date from which I
> would subtract
> 21.
> So adult in this context does have a meanining and a use in
> calculating
> a date of birth, if only as a before or after.
> "
> I'm not an expert on mid-thirteenth century inheritance law
> but would be surprised if inheritance practice were as
> clear-cut as you suggest.

But they were, at least for heirs. If an heir were under 21, his
guardianship, and control of his lands, would belong to the King, if he
were a tenent in capite, or to his superior overlord, if he were not.
This meant money to the guardian. This is why you will find proofs of
age. The case of heiresses was a little different. If she were married
at the time of her father's death, no matter what her age, she was
considered an adult, as she had a de facto guardian, her husband.
> At any rate, that is irrelevant to the 1227 date. The point
> is that we don't know how the term 'adult' was derived in
> this case (in the absence of an appropriate footnote),
> meaning that we can't make any safe assumptions about it.

CP was cited as the source. CP typically gives the age of the subject
as given by ipm or by the fact that the subject assumed the property
without a guardianship. Therefore, I maintain that the date of 1227
is relevant as a date from which to calculate; not for exactitude, but
as a "before" calculation.

Kay Allen AG
> Chris

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