Introduction I. The Material Environment II. Blood Ties and Family Wealth III. Household Economy IV. Stages of Life V. Surrogate Family Epilogue Appendix Coroners' Rolls Notes Bibliography Index
Barbara A. Hanawalt is Professor of History at the Ohio State University and author of Crime and Conflict in English Communities, 1300-1348 and editor of Women and Work in Preindustrial Europe.
In the near-glut of historical family studies, this is the first clearly focused on evidence about families medieval, English, and peasant. Hanawalt uses 3118 coroners' inquests into accidental deaths (mostly 14th century) and manorial court records (13th to early 16th century) to explore families' material environments, wealth, economic activities, life cycles, and surrogates. Nuclear groups created without good evidence of the so-called ``Western European'' or ``Malthusian'' marriage pattern lived in conjugal households where spouses were partners. Despite sociocultural changes, human biological needs made the family a tough and flexible institution. Hanawalt's sharp empirical corrective to much theoretical scholarship is informed with a humane understanding of medieval peasant life and belongs in college and public libraries. Richard C. Hoffmann, History Dept., York Univ., Downsview, Ontario
"I've always wanted to step back into medieval society, to time-travel through England. Thanks to Hanawalt, I have!"--William Van Vugt, Calvin College "Well-written and flows smoothly. Hanawalt uses her sources skillfully to build an intriguing portrait of the daily lives of women and their families in medieval England."--Sylvia McGrath, Stephen F. Austin State University "[An] excellent presentation of medieval life, especially valuable for a course focussing on social history. Clear and vivid, easily comprehended yet subtly argued. Students find it rewarding and interesting."--James Rosenheim, Texas A & M University "As stimulating for the questions it asks as for the answers it provides....[It] will serve as a corrective to those accounts that only see differences and not similarities between past and present."--The New York Times Book Review "A vivid re-creation of the family and community life of English peasants during the later Middle Ages, as well as lively criticism of other historians who have generalized about the subject."--American Historical Review "Meticulous, scholarly, and highly readable....Founded on voluminous and reliable evidence that is interpreted with grace, humanity, and common sense."--David Nicholas, Speculum "An important new and timely venture....Hanawalt must be congratulated for taking up the task in such an energetic and lively fashion."--J.A. Raftis, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies "A wonderful book....[Hanawalt] brings to her reconstruction of domestic life a wealth of colorful detail....Informed, level-headed, fast-paced, fun to read, and deeply humane."--David Herlihy, Harvard University "The first comprehensive account of peasant families in late medieval England."--Journal of Social History "Diligent research...has enabled Hanawalt to speak authoritatively and engagingly about her subject....A significant contribution on its subject."--CHOICE "This approach and its detail of everyday mediaeval life make the book of interest to a wide variety of reader. Those who are interested in the mediaeval period (or the family) should not miss it."--Open History