Sisters in Medieval Wales
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The study of sisters in sibling relationships in medieval Wales can give us insight into medieval Welsh society and new ways to study medieval Welsh literature. It could be beneficial to our understanding of medieval welsh society if we learn about the role of women in sibling relationships. Understanding the role and function of these sibling relationships would help create new contexts and perspectives and add to the tools we can use to study medieval Welsh literature. Three literary characters are studied in this thesis, three sisters: Branwen, Arianrhod, and Gwyar. Their stories are analysed to discover the themes of women in sibling relations. The literary sources are compared with historical insights to create an impression of the role of women in sibling relationships. Themes such as the tragic peaceweaver reveal something about the role of women in marriages and political alliances. Moreover, relationship ties such as the sister’s son represent important and continual ties with the sister and the brother. The stories of these three women also reveal themes of sibling duties, and shame and honour. It is the duty of the sister to strengthen the status of the family through marriage and it is the brother’s responsibility to protect his sister. The role a sister could play depended on what she could give the family by marrying. The shame which befalls the sister also often befalls the rest of the family. The focus of the literature is on the relationship of sisters to their male kin. Male relatives could exercise great control in many aspects of women’s lives. Moreover, women were often viewed only in connection to these men, in literature as well as society. This thesis aims to provide a small insight into the much larger concept of women in sibling relationships. The morals and ideals revealed in the themes associated with sisterhood provide us with new important perspectives on medieval Welsh society and literature. We can use these themes in further studies to create a more complete image of medieval Welsh society and literature.