Between 2014-2018, Deborah Youngs, a Professor in the Department of History was the Principal Investigator on an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project – worth £854,599 – along with her Co-Investigators: Prof. Garthine Walker (Department of History, School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University) and Prof Alex Shepard (School of Humanities at the University of Glasgow).
This 48 month project explored women's access to justice across various parts of Britain and Ireland between c.1100-c.1750. Its intention was to look beyond the single jurisdiction or region, and to draw on less well known materials in Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The resources for the project included records from both secular and church courts, encompassing civil, canon and criminal jurisdictions.
Taking a distinctly comparative focus, the team asked questions about women’s access to justice and the legal process, the choices they had, the obstacles and opportunities with which they were confronted as ‘women’. It also explored the extent to which the answers to these questions were determined by and varied according to national boundaries, language, ethnicity, confessional identity, and social status. In which judicial and cultural contexts were women more or less legally disadvantaged? How and with what success did they negotiate these limits? How did this change over time? Such issues were addressed by making new comparisons across borders and time, including Jewish, Irish, Welsh and Scottish women operating in courts where their first language was not spoken, and processes imposed by a dominant or colonial power.