Women as benefactors
… for the love of God and the salvation of
my soul and the souls
of my father, mother and my lord, Walter of Toulouse, and of
my predecessors and successors, I, Emma of Toulouse, give to
God and St Mary and the monks of Kirkstall seven acres of land
in the field of Pontefract …(1)
Women supported the Cistercian Order as benefactors
and patrons. By doing so they were able to participate in Cistercian life and
also secure their salvation,
through requesting prayers, masses and, later on, burial within the abbey precinct.
Roger de Mowbray, a leading
baron in the North of England, was persuaded by his mother, Gundreda,
to act as patron to the group of monks who later formed the Byland community.
Gundreda was also a generous to the monks of Rievaulx, to whom she granted
land at Welburn, 1138-43.
Women of all ranks bestowed their generosity upon the
Yorkshire abbeys, whether acting independently or along with their husband
or son. Whereas
Studely, a woman of considerable means, made her first grant to Fountains
Abbey in the
late thirteenth century, as an unmarried woman, Cassandra, the wife of John
the innkeeper, acted jointly with her husband to give the monks a carucate of
land in Malham.(2)