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The early modern period in European history the age of the witch-hunting craze - is often considered a time of setbacks for women. It's associated with the loss of the economic and political power and prestige they had enjoyed in the Middle Ages and their subjection to the growing authority of male patriarchs in the family and state.
In this third volume in The Longman History of European Women series, Professor Fairchilds challenges this view. Synthesizing the latest research in the field, Fairchilds reveals a time of positive change for women where many of our modern concepts about love and family and notions of equality between men and women were formulated. Significant changes included: challenges to the idea that women were inferior to and more sinful than men; a rethinking of women’s possible social role; a redefinition of marriage, stressing the necessity of love and equality between husband and wife; a new emphasis on motherhood as woman’s primary role; the spread of literacy and the growth of female self-expression in literature and the arts and new roles for women in the churches and the state. In addition, the age produced a remarkable cluster of female rulers, along with the first demands by women for political rights equal to those of men.
Early modern woman inhabited many roles: wife and mother, worker and property owner, artist and scientist, nun and martyr, citizen, soldier and ruler. This book portrays the early modern period as a time when women not only helped shape their world but also challenged traditional notions of their place within it.
Cissie Fairchilds is Professor Emeritus of History at Syracuse University, New York, USA. She is the author of Poverty and Charity in Aix-en-Provence , 1640-1789 (1976) and Domestic Enemies: Servants and their Masters in Old Regime France (1984).
PART 1: THE PATRIARCHAL PARADIGM
1. Inferiors or Equals? Ideas about the Nature of Women
PART 2: WOMEN AND THE FAMILY
2. Girls and Maidens
5. Widows and Elderly Women
PART 3: WOMEN AND WORK
6. Housewives, Spinsters, Harvest Hands: Women's Work in the Countryside
7. Craftswomen, Midwives, Servants: Women's Work in Cities and Towns
8. Artists, Musicians, Actresses, Writers, Scholars, Scientists: New Employment Opportunities for Women
PART 4: WOMEN AND RELIGION
9. Wives, Preachers, Martyrs: Women in the Protestant Reformation
10. Mothers, Nuns, Nurses, Teachers: Women and the Catholic Reformation
PART 5: WOMEN AND THE STATES
14. Wariors and Empire-Builders