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International Women's Day -- ‘The Merry Widow’: Can it be accurately determined that for medieval women, widowhood might be considered a 'rebirth' as determined by Sheehan, 1996?

  ‘The Merry Widow’: Can it be accurately determined that for medieval women, widowhood might be considered a 'rebirth' as determined by Sheehan, 1996? by Emrys R. Keim The assessment of widowhood as a “rebirth” remains highly disputed among medievalists and gender historians. To a degree, it may be argued that historiography perpetuates an idealistic narrative by which the medieval widow is released from patriarchal expectations. The original statement by medievalist, Michael M. Sheehan details this liberation; determining that medieval widowhood was the sole process by which women could be granted full legal and personal autonomy. With the deaths of their husbands, the women representing the four lay groups suddenly sprang into full legal personality as expressed in the class to which they belonged. For those who had been married in their teens this was birth into a new kind of civil existence; for those who had married after a period of full adulthood, it was a rebirth.