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Reviews 197 and elegant type, an assortment of illustrations and a red ribbon to mark one's place, this volume is clearly intended to share a place in the portrait of the bibliophile Elizabeth. Paul E. J. Hammer Department ofHistory University ofAdelaide Mate, Mavis E., Women in Medieval English Society (New Studies in Economic and Social History). Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999; pp. v, 120; R R P £7.95 (paper); ISBN 0-521-58733-6. This volume is one of the few pre-eighteenth-century period texts issued in association with the Economic History Society, and as such it follows on R. Porter's Disease, Medicine and Society in England 1550-1860 or P Slack's 77ie English Poor 1531-1782. The now quite numerous series has long been concerned to provide a concise and authoritative guide to the current interpretations of themes in economic and social history and to summarise both debates and advances in a majorfieldfor students approaching thefieldfor thefirsttime. The seemingly simplistic task is compensated for by the very helpful and considerable list of a hundred or more items in the Bibliography concerned with the general position of w o m e n and with the circumstances of particular persons and/or groups in exact times and locations. As we are told at the outset, more has been written about medieval women in the last 15 years than in the previous 150 (p. 1). Queens now have their own biographies - and a surprising number are listed - while wills and letters tell us much about widows, piety, limited opportunities for education, the work of the daughters of labourers and artisans, regional variation in economic development and inheritance. Much is said about the general matter ofthe Anglo-Saxon period, thought of as being a Golden Age for women; Mary Stenton's 'rough equality', something probably only true for the powerful, since the time also records female slaves, as mentioned in 1086 in the Doomsday inquest. Another reappraising insight is that of the latter part of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine as being one when she was intoxicated with the exercise of power and political maneuvering (p. 13). Quite certainly Mate is on firmer ground when she describes the work and legal transactions in which a particular woman was engaged - notions derived 198 Reviews from the writings by John S. Moore (1989), David Pelteret (1995), J. Jesch (1991), Pauline Stafford (1989) and Christine Fell (1984). In this as in so many other matters, the writer of the guide would seem to have succeeded admirably in her chosen task of arousing the reader's avid curiosity. Further the sectionalising of areas in the various paragraphs should make research projects open up in the particular area of interest to the beginning reader or researcher. The bold general areas of religious, political and economic life in the periods c. 600-1250 and 1250-1530 are followed by similar treatment of matters such as women's place in the economy, degrees of formal education, religious experience and autonomy, legal rights, patronage, labour services, punishments of sexual offences, and, in much detail, the activities and opportunities that befell and were seized by widows - as attested by various documents. In short, these guides may be held to continue the fine introductory handbooks in the humanities by the same publisher a century ago, with the very definite bonus of a most comprehensive bibliography. Mavis E. Mate, the Professor of Medieval History at the University of Oregon, who published in 1998 Daughters, Wives and Widows after the Black Death: Women in Sussex, 1350-1530, has again shown herself to be an excellent teacher, choosing word, observation and example with the greatest care and relevance. This is, indeed, a vade mecum for the curious reader as well as the medieval specialist. J. S. Ryan School ofEnglish, Communication and Theatre University ofNew England Mendelson, Sara and Patricia Crawford, Women in Early Modern England 15501720 , Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998; pp. xviii, 480; 49 b/w illustrations; RRP£25 (cloth), £14.99 (paper); ISBN 0198201249 (cloth), 019820812X (paper). The 15 years of collaborative research and writing which went into this su volume are everywhere apparent. Mendelson and Crawford have assembled...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 197-198
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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