English Medieval Probate Inventories

The Potential of Narratological Approaches


  • Sarah Hinds University of York




narratology, material culture, household objects, domestic spaces, medieval inventories, narratives


Taking English medieval probate inventories as a case study this article introduces a methodological approach to inventories adapted from the narratological frameworks of Gérard Genette. Using this novel methodology this study explores how we might identify narrative elements within inventories and in so doing better our understanding of the objects and spaces of late medieval houses. It outlines how legal frameworks, the inventorying genre, and the organizational techniques of individual appraisers contributed to processes of narrativization. Moreover, it demonstrates how in praxis this narratological approach can recover traces of hidden objects, spaces, and the movement of appraisers, which have been preserved within the text of these documents. Finally, it highlights the potential of this methodology to be adapted in future work in order to examine systems of classification employed by appraisers, or the contexts of production for inventory corpora.





Hinds, S. (2022). English Medieval Probate Inventories: The Potential of Narratological Approaches. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften, 32(3), 44–65. https://doi.org/10.25365/oezg-2021-32-3-3