11 Nov: Alice Chaucer, Three Times A Wife

Geoffrey Chaucer’s granddaughter Alice was first married at the age of 11. She was granted a license to marry her third husband on 11th November, 1430; and became defined by her three powerful unions with men she outlived.

Having lost her first two husbands in the Hundred Years War, she then settled down with William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk; a marriage that got her closer than ever to the seat of power. At one point, she even filled in for Queen Margaret on a ceremonial parade in France.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly marvel at Chaucer’s ability to climb the social hierarchy via her marriages; explain why ‘jointures’ changed the fortunes of widows in the Middle Ages; and consider the merits of commissioning multiple statues of themselves…

Further Reading:

• ‘Four Thought: And His Wife’ (BBC Radio 4, 2021) – Olly Mann interviews Jessica Barker about medieval statues of women, including Alice Chaucer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000z0c4

• ‘Historical Figures: Alice Chaucer, Lady of the Garter’ (Just History Posts, 2020): https://justhistoryposts.com/2020/08/11/historical-figures-alice-chaucer-lady-of-the-garter/

• ‘’Till Death Us Do Part? Love and the Medieval Tomb Monument with Dr Jessica Barker’ (The Churches Conservation Trust, 2021):

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