Review by Choice Review
The result of a conference on medieval women and power held at Fordham University in March 1985, this collection contains 11 essays, 8 of them by historians and 3 by literary scholars. According to evidence presented in the articles, medieval women were empowered by a wide variety of means--family connections, networks of patronage and friendship, widowhood, noble birth, gift-giving--but were never granted authority, that is, power that was publicly legitimated. The authors use an excellent range of sources, such as letters, wills, seals, court records, hagiography, literature by both women and men, and guild records. Many of the essays complement each other nicely by allowing the reader to compare the experiences of rural and urban women, or of peasants and nobles. Most also explore questions that use gender as a category of analysis, comparing female and male networks of influence, methods of telling stories, or concepts of the family. The authors are all well-known authorities in their fields, presenting their most current research. All but two articles are published here for the first time. Thorough index; 14 illustrations, 2 of them in color. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. E. Wiesner University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.