Singlewomen in the European Past, 1250-1800 by Judith M. Bennett

By Judith M. Bennett

When we expect concerning the eu prior, we have a tendency to think villages, cities, and towns populated by way of traditional families—married and their childrens. even if most folks did marry and cross lots of their grownup years within the corporation of a wife, this imaginative and prescient of a preindustrial Europe formed via heterosexual marriage deceptively hides the well-established proven fact that, in a few instances and areas, as many as twenty-five percentage of girls and males remained unmarried all through their lives.

Despite the numerous variety of never-married lay ladies in medieval and early glossy Europe, the research in their position and place in that society has been principally missed. Singlewomen within the ecu Past opens up this workforce for additional research. it's not purely the 1st publication to focus on the real minority of girls who by no means married but additionally the 1st to handle the serious subject of adjustments between ladies from the viewpoint of marital status.

Essays through top scholars—among them Maryanne Kowaleski, Margaret Hunt, Ruth Mazo Karras, Susan Mosher Stuard, Roberta Krueger, and Merry Wiesner—deal with subject matters together with the sexual and emotional relationships of singlewomen, the industrial concerns and employment possibilities dealing with them, the variations among the lives of widows and singlewomen, the conflation of singlewomen and prostitutes, and the matter of lady slavery. The chapters either illustrate the jobs open to the singlewoman within the 13th via eighteenth centuries and lift new views concerning the reports of singlewomen in prior times.

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A. Kent, "Ubiquitous but Invisible: Female Domestic Servants in Mid-Eighteenth Century London:' History Workshop Journal 28 (Autumn 1989): 111-28; Marjorie K. McIntosh, "Servants and the Household Unit in an Elizabethan English Community:' Journal ofFamily History 9, I (1984): 3-23. 24. For many young singlewomen, autonomy was tempered by restriction; they were forced into domestic service, put into houses of correction, and even expelled from communities. See Paul Griffiths, YOuth andAuthority: Formative ExperiencesinEngland) Is6o-I640 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996 ), 351-89.

59. Jean Kern, "The Old Maid, or 'to Grow old, and be poor, and laughed at;" in FetterJd or Free? British Women Novelists I670-I8IS, ed. " 60. Froide, "Single Women, Work, and Community;' 362-420; Dauphin, "Histoire d'un stereotype;' 217-19. 6 I. Dauphin, "Histoire d'un stereotype;' 2 17. 62. Cox, "The Single Self;' 546-49, 564-67. 63. Dauphin, "Histoire d'un stereotype;' 224-25. Judith M. Bennett and Amy M. Froide 64. Katherine Phillips, Poems (London, 1667) cited in The Cultural Identity of Seventeenth-Century Woman: A Reader, compo and ed.

See, for example, R. M. Smith, "Some Reflections on the Evidence for the Origins of the 'European Marriage Pattern' in England:' in The Sociology of the Family: New Directions in Britain, ed. : Rowman and Littlefield, 1979),74-112. 10. Watkins has cautioned against overstressing systems of marriage when explaining the singleness ofwomen in the past. In her view, economic circumstances, attempts at population control, and skewed sex ratios also profoundly affected rates of singleness (Watkins, "Spinsters").

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