Patterns of Patronage: Female Initiatives and Artistic Enterprises in England in the 13th and 14th Centuries

Loveday Lewes Gee*, Independent Scholar, Dyfed, Wales ,


This paper will seek to identify how English women in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries expressed their concerns and priorities through their roles as commissioners and initiators of artistic objects, such as illuminated manuscripts, tombs, and seals. It will also examine their role in establishing various foundations, religious houses, and chantries. For female patronage, the impact of changes in religious practice after the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, as well as the influence of the Friars, current political circumstances, and wars with France, will be assessed in tracing the evolving patterns of patronage over the period.


While men and women shared a common culture and both were active as artistic patrons at this time, the way in which men and women identified themselves was different. Consequently there are certain themes and ideas that are particularly relevant to women, among them personal piety, family, and domestic circumstances. These will be examined in the social and spiritual context of their patronage. The women who were artistic patrons had similar interests and aims in their piety and social concerns, but their requirements were often very specific to themselves as individuals and reveal much about their personalities, priorities, circumstances and lives.