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Daughters, Wives and Widows after the Black Death: Women in Sussex, 1350-1535

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Overview

It has long been thought that the post Black Death period offered unparallelled opportunities for women. However, through a careful consideration of economic and legal changes affecting women of all social classes and conditions, the author shows that this was not the case, taking issue with orthodox opinion. She argues that marriage at a late age was not customary for women, and that the ability of wives to supplement their income with intermittent paid labour (at harvest time, for example) was not so great as has been supposed: rather, most married women spent more time on unpaid agricultural labour on their own land than their peers had done in the pre-plague economy. Professor Mate also demonstrates that there is little evidence to support the current belief that widowhood was the period in a woman's life when she enjoyed most power, freedom, and independence; moreover, legal changes were a mixed blessing for women, leaving some widows with a larger portion and a more secure title to land, but totally depriving others. Throughout, the book pays much attention to class as well as gender, showing how many things were determined by it, from what a woman wore or ate to the age at which she married, her power within the household, and even her vulnerability to rape. Professor MAVIS E. MATE teaches in the Department of History at the University of Oregon.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A well-documented description that provides...rich detail about the lives of women, some of it rigorously enough selected and analyzed to provide useful correctives to existing scholarship. In addition, the book is laced with intelligent commentary both about the evidence and the weight that it can bear, as well as about the ways a woman's social position would have affected her experience of any of the economic or demographic events discussed. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780851155340
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/2/1998
  • Pages: 235
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Tables
Abbreviations
Genealogies: The Lewkenore, Pelham, Etchingham and Oxenbridge Families
Introduction 1
1 Fluctuations in the post-Black Death Economy 11
2 Marriage and the Economy 21
3 Married Women and Work among Labouring and Craft Families 50
4 Women under the Law 76
5 Widowhood 94
6 Standards of Living 135
7 Social Horizons: Power versus Authority 154
8 Class and Gender in Late Medieval Society 179
Conclusions 193
Bibliography 201
Index 215
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