Prospect Before Her

Prospect Before Her

by Olwen Hufton
     
 
How did women in 16th century western Europe cope with the consequences of being considered inherently sinful—as well as being legally and economically subordinate to their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons? What might become of a woman unable to raise a dowry? What were the difficulties faced by spinsters, single mothers, and widows? In this brilliant

Overview

How did women in 16th century western Europe cope with the consequences of being considered inherently sinful—as well as being legally and economically subordinate to their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons? What might become of a woman unable to raise a dowry? What were the difficulties faced by spinsters, single mothers, and widows? In this brilliant investigation into the lives of women from all social strata, Hufton leads us from poor-house to palazzo, from cradle to grave, illuminating what it meant to be female in western Europe during the years 1500 to 1800.


"A major effort at synthesis...Ms. Hufton has a keen eye for the extraordinary interest in ordinary detail."—New York Times Book Review

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Combining meticulous scholarship and elegant prose, this immensely rewarding history restores women to their key role in the birth of modern Europe. Defined by family status and limited job potential, condemned as lustful sinners or born hysterics by Church authorities and male doctors, ostracized and persecuted as witches, women nevertheless confounded patriarchal strictures and stereotypes. They farmed, midwived, joined urban workshops, sold goods in markets and on quays, worked at home in cottage industry, ran day-schools for children of working parents. Women in England, France, Germany and Holland took part in bread riots, political protests, rebellions, religious riots. Many women went to court seeking separation, divorce, protection from (or the incarceration of) abusive or drunken spouses. Drawing on women's diaries and memoirs, medical and theological tracts, advice manuals and legal documents, Hufton has unearthed a wealth of information on marriage, divorce, parenting, the Inquisition (between one-third and half of its victims in Spain and Portugal were women), infanticide, rape, prostitution, women writers and religious leaders. She traces the roots of modern feminism from Renaissance Venice, where nun Arcangela Tarabotti attacked the dowry system and men's greed, to the radical women's groups of the French Revolution and English polemicist Mary Wollstonecraft's fiery appeals for women's rights. Illustrated. (Nov.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Hufton, one of the pioneers of women's studies and a highly respected historian, here investigates the prospects of a female child in the period 1500-1800, including marriage, spinsterhood, widowhood, or single motherhood, with such "careers" as silk worker, sausage maker, wet nurse, and prostitute. By 1800, women were beginning to protest the constraints on their lives. (LJ 11/15/96) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
New York Times Book Review
"A major effort at synthesis...Ms. Hufton has a keen eye for the extraordinary interest in ordinary detail."
Of Books New York Review
"A considerable feat ... Hufton ranges confidentlly through the centuries."
The Observer (London)
"Magnificent. One of the most important works of history since the Second World War."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517480861
Publisher:
Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
11/26/1996

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