Family Life in The Middle Agesby Linda E. Mitchell
Mitchell takes a regional approach in exploring the lives of families in the Middle Ages. Starting with the late Roman families the first five chapters explore the roles of family members defined by tradition and law, what constituted a legal marriage and a family, to whom the children belonged, and who was included in the extended family. The remaining chapters
Mitchell takes a regional approach in exploring the lives of families in the Middle Ages. Starting with the late Roman families the first five chapters explore the roles of family members defined by tradition and law, what constituted a legal marriage and a family, to whom the children belonged, and who was included in the extended family. The remaining chapters delve into daily family life - homes of various social classes and the division of labor, both maintaining the home and family-based labor such as agriculture, banking, manufacturing of goods, and mercantile activity. Religious cultures of the medieval world varied but all often included oblation of children to monasteries, religious ceremonies for life stages, and family obligations in the religious culture. Birth, death and inheritance all affected the family and new families were often formed from previous generations and defunct family lines. Non-traditional families included family structures advocated by heretical groups - the Cathars and the Beguines, families created without marriage - concubinage relationships, and those that developed as a result of social and environmental stresses - the Black Death, war, and natural disasters. Perfect for students studying the Middle Ages and medieval life, this work provides a clear and engaging narrative on the day-to-day lives of the family. Reference resources include a timeline, sources for further reading, photographs and an index.
Volumes in the Family Life Through History series focus on the day-to-day lives and roles of families. The roles of all family members are defined and information on daily family life, the role of the family in society, and the ever-changing definition of the term family' are discussed. Discussion of the nuclear family, single parent homes, foster and adoptive families, stepfamilies, and gay and lesbian families are included where appropriate. Topics such as meal planning, homes, entertainment and celebrations, are discussed along with larger social issues that originate in the home like domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and divorce. Ideal for students and general readers alike, books in this series bring the history of everyday people to life.
This balanced volume starts with a regional approach, presenting separate overviews of family life from late Roman Europe, the medieval West, the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic world, and Jewish society. The second half shifts to specific aspects of lifestyles throughout Europe, including religion, labor, marriage, and children. Within these topics, the author continues to note the varied geographical, societal, and cultural forces that contributed to various practices. Dense but well-organized prose carefully presents general information backed up with specific examples. The chapter on physical environments, for instance, examines such subjects as home construction, floor plans, and sanitation facilities in various locations and social levels, and the social, cultural, and technological influences on these conditions. The author's historical research is evident, with consistent citations of works within the text and acknowledgment that lack of sources can limit the historian's ability to draw concrete conclusions. Illustrations are notably sparse: the book includes only 15 average-quality black-and-white photographs or reproductions (and 7 of the 11 chapters have no illustrations at all). The text-heavy pages and sophisticated language may be daunting to some readers. Motivated students, however, can find plenty of useful and thought-provoking material. The inclusion of several cultures from the era, with frequent discussions of similarities and differences, makes this work particularly useful, since most similar titles focus almost exclusively on the Germanic- and Roman-based cultures of Western Europe.
Steven EngelfriedCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Meet the Author
Linda E. Mitchell is Associate Professor of History at Alfred University. She is Hagar Professor of Humanities and Co-chair, Medieval & Renaissance Studies. She contributed to Events that Changed the World in the Eighteenth Century (Greenwood, 1997).
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