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222 Reviews make a m a n more likely to resent his wife's adultery (p. 183). Thus, says Kingdon, 'factors of these sorts, not the attitude of the Consistory, explain w h y w o m e n were more likely to forgive wayward husbands and m e n were more likely to sue adulterous wives for divorce' (p. 183). Surely if this were the contemporary social context, i t would also influence the attitude and judgements of the m e n of the Consistory and thus make w o m e n less likely to pursue cases for divorce. Kingdon's work makes interesting reading and aUows a valuable opportunity to examine a select number of cases in some depth. However, the reader needs to keep in mind h o w representative these cases m a y be of the actions of the Consistory and the contemporary social context. Furthermore, I would be hesitant to agree with several of Kingdon's presumptions about the meaning of the cases or, for example, with his willingness to see the Consistory's 'gender-neutral single standard' for sexual delinquency in practice as shown by the outcome of the Lenepveux case. The reader might be best served to remember Kingdon's admitted lack of sophisticated analyses and draw their o w n conclusions from the case histories he provides. Susan Broomhall School of European Languages The University of Western AustraUa Kirby, Joan, ed., The Plumpton Letters and Papers (Camden Fifth Seri 8), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, for Royal Historical Society, 1996; cloth, pp. 370; 1 chart; R.R.P. £95.00. Joan Kirby's recent edition of the Plumpton letters is a significant contribution to printed sources for studies of fifteenth-century England. Not only does The Plumpton Letters and Papers represent one of the few coUections of fifteenth-century gentry letters, but i t is exhaustively researched and meticulously thorough. Such an edition is welcome (and overdue) given that the previous major version of the Plumpton letters was compiled in 1839. U p until now, the transmission of the letters has been a halting process. After the fifteenth-century letters were copied into a commonplace book in Reviews 223 the seventeenth century, the originals were lost. After the seventeenth-century manuscript was edited by Thomas Stapleton in 1839, the manuscript was lost. It was only after the reappearance of the seventeenth-century manuscript in 1972 that a new edition could be developed. (See the article by J. Taylor in Northern History 10 [1975]). Kirby's n e w edition takes fuU advantage of the renewed avaUabiUty of the seventeenth-century manuscript. Every letter has been reread and painstakingly transcribed. Kirby has also found eight Plumpton letters copied in other documents which she has added to the coUection. The Plumpton Letters and Papers is, then, a complete edition of these sources, drawing on research at the West Yorkshire Archive Service and also on archival work in other Yorkshire and London record offices. As weU as the 252 letters, Kirby includes transcriptions of some of the most important documents related to the Plumpton business and legal affairs. W h U e it would be desirable to see aU the documents in detatf, the survival of some 1000 late-medieval Plumpton deeds makes this unfeasible. Kirby has instead copied in fuU a handful of documents central to the matters outlined in the letters and has provided a calendar for 88 more. Including these documents strengthens the volume, as these deeds and records of disputes and marriages form the material which many of the letters discuss. The juxtaposition of the two sources—legal and epistolary—undoubtedly adds to the inteUigibiUty of each. At the base of each letter Kirby provides information about the people and lands mentioned and notes about the addenda and marginaUa found in the manuscripts. In addition, she includes an appendix of page-long biographies of members of the gentry mentioned in the letters. These biographies are intended to make the letters more comprehensible, but they also highlight the ways in which the Plumptons interacted with other members of the fifteenthcentury Northern gentry. This sets the uniqueness of the circumstances of the...


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