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Reviews 143 for those starting out as readers of Jonson, Donne, Marvell and Milton or the Renaissance Book ofC o m m o n Prayer. Yet there does not seem to be anything original in the authors' claims or readings. Connecting their annotations with their o w n claims, it is difficult to see places where the book advances debates beyond the other authors they cite. The book does not include any new archival research, nor does itframeoriginal readings of the chosen authors. Their next Shakespeare book may of course depart from this: i t seems more likely that, as here, it will simply confirm the authors in the power oftheir governing tropes rather than showing us a new Shakespeare. Likewise in the present book, I had no sense of having to reconsider Renaissance writers from a new perspective. Moreover, the authors frequently seek to bury their case by writing with excessive obscurity, which rather than making their arguments more complex simply makes them more difficult to discern. Thus some will findAge ofIron a useful book, but given the decline ofboth the Australian and New Zealand dollars, and restrictions on library purchases many readers of this journal have to live with, it should on no account be considered essential reading. Mark Houlahan University of Waikato Cavallo, Sandra and Lyndan Warner, eds, Widowhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Men and W o m e n in History), Harlow, Longman, 1999; cloth; pp. xiii, 272; 2 b/w illustrations, 3 tables; R R P £55 (board), £17.99 (paper); ISBN 0582317479 (board), 0582317487 (paper). As the editors of this collection argue, widowhood and widowerhood are terms and states that are receiving increasing attention in historical studies. This collection is an excellent survey of our current understanding of the widowed condition in the European past and bears witness to the many new approaches and historical records being used to explore the lives of men and w o m e n in widowhood. In Part One, papers focus on defining widowhood and, more recently, 'widowerhood'. The introduction is thefirstchapter in this section, and provides a comprehensive summary of the major points, approaches, tensions, and questions raised in the papers that follow as historians increasingly examine the state as an ideological construction. Julia Crick contributes a thorough survey of the terminology of widowhood in pre-conquest England, revealing a lack of 144 Reviews clear definition to describe the marriage state. Margaret Pelting investigates the representation of widowers in the Norwich Poor Relief of 1570, which suggests that few elderly men in the poor population were without wives, as a springboard to examine male experiences of widowhood. In the second section, studies examine models and paradoxes. Patricia Skinner explores ideals and realities of the widow's situation in southern Italy to 1100CE, focussing on the intersections between her economic and physical maintenance. She also highlights the alternative paths by which a wife might become a widow, for example, if her husband entered the church. Barbara J. Todd analyses the impact ofmale-authored Catholic and Protestant prescriptive writings on widowhood, particularly those of Vives and William Page. She explores their influence in relation to the experiences of widowhood as shown in women's writings. Lyndan Warner provides a thought-provoking study of the legal ramifications of the 1560 Edict of Remarriages in France restricting widow's rights to distribute family inheritance to new husbands. Warner examines the landmark court case between a widow and her step-children that led to the extension of the law from widows to widowers. Elizabeth Foyster's examination of men remarrying 'the experienced widow' employs statements ofhusbands and wives in marriage separation cases to expose contemporary understandings of the causes ofre-marriage breakdown in Early M o d e m England. Foyster's research suggests that as well as the threat of sexual experience, finances were a central issue since many widows had economic experience and knowledge of managing property and capital, and had a vested and personal interest in protecting it. In Part Three, papers address marital and family constraints in widowhood. Isabelle Chabot's research is devoted to difficulties of the place of residence of young widows in Renaissance...


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