Women in England, C. 1275-1525 / Edition 1

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This collection of sources demonstrates the variety of evidence that survives of English women in all walks of life from the time of Edward I to the eve of the Reformation. The sources are introduced by a substantial overview of current thinking about English medieval women below the level of the greater aristocracy. In addition, Goldberg explores many of the methodological problems and strengths of particular sources. Individual chapters explore the life-cycle themes of childhood, adolescence, married life, widowhood and old age. The study then moves on to examine such topics as work in town and country, prostitution, the law, recreation and devotion. In every case the reader is exposed to a range of sources, but particular attention is paid to those sources that reflect actual experience or provide insights into the lives of ordinary women rather than the prescriptive or purely literary texts. A particular feature of this collection is the extensive use of church court depositions that allow the voices of peasant women, servant girls, bourgeois wives, or poor widows to be heard across the centuries.

The sources are presented in a form designed to be accessible to undergraduates, but of interest to teachers and researchers alike.

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Editorial Reviews

A collection of excerpts from archival sources providing information on the lives of ordinary, nonaristocratic medieval women, arranged in sections on childhood; adolescence; marriage; old age; work; prostitution; law and custom; recreation; and devotion. Sources include court, church, farm, and business records. Fascinating reading for students, scholars, and general readers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780719040566
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Series: Manchester Medieval Sources Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 307
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Note on editorial conventions used
Introduction 1
I Childhood 57
II Adolescence
Servanthood 87
Instruction 97
Courtship and marriage 103
III Husband and wife 130
IV Widowhood, poverty, and old age 146
V Work in the countryside 167
VI Work in the town 188
VII Prostitution 210
VIII Law and custom
Villeinage and custom 223
Transgressions against customary law 224
Disputes between neighbours 226
Fornication 227
Defamation 228
Scolding and other subversive and anti-social activities 232
Casting spells 236
Age of majority 237
Prison 237
Sanctuary 238
Women before the law 239
Debt 239
Theft 243
Receiving 246
Arson 247
Assault 247
Abduction 252
Rape 252
Homicide and petty treason 257
Suicide (felo de se) 260
IX Recreation 261
X Devotion
Female religious 266
Anchoresses 277
Hospital sisters 278
Lay piety 279
Heresy 290
Bibliography 296
Index 305
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