Within three generations (1426 to 1485), and through the dark anddangerous years of the Wars of the Roses, the Pastons establishedthemselves as a family of consequence, both in their native Norfolk andwithin court circles. Ambitious and highly mobile — womenfolk as wellas men — they kept in touch by correspondence, usually but notinvariably through the medium of a clerk. These letters, a raresurvival, break upon us across the centuries with the urgency, andsometimes the violence, of their preoccupations: defending property,fighting court cases, making the right alliances, and, on the domesticside, managing their estates, conducting their courtships, stockingtheir cupboards. Selected and presented here with Richard Barber'sinvaluable linking narrative, they bring the middle ages triumphantlyto life.
Richard Barber's attractive selection, originally published by the Folio Society, well deserves this more accessible reissue. The letters are presented in modernised form with spare but informative linking commentary, and the volume is ideal both for the 'ordinary reader' and for medievalists for whom a friendly acquaintance with the Pastons is a sufficient substitute for linguistic or historical scholarship. The selection conveys well their recurrent concerns with land, money, civil violence, flirtation, marriage and the purchase of ginger and lace. MEDIUM AEVUM