Maids, Wives, Widows

Exploring Early Modern Women's Lives, 1540–1740
Author(s): Sara Read
Original Publish Date: May 30, 2015
Product Number: EB00755581
Released: Mar 08, 2019
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9781473859586
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books
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A broad-ranging exploration of the everyday lives of women—from social calls to medical needs—during one of English history’s most fascinating periods.
Maids, wives, and widows were the official classifications of women according to English law in the early modern era, immediately following the medieval period. In this fascinating study of the time, historian Sara Read shows “how varied, rich, joyous, and sociable early modern women’s lives were, not to mention just how busy or difficult they could be” (Read, from the introduction).
Read delves into how these women filled their days, including vivid details of what they liked to eat and drink, what jobs they held, and how they raised their children. With chapters devoted to beauty regimes, fashion, and literature, the book examines the cultural and domestic aspects of life, as well as how women understood and dealt with their monthly periods and what it was like to give birth in a time before modern obstetric care was available.?
Maids, Wives, Widows also highlights key moments in women’s history such as the 1671 publication of the first midwifery guide by Jane Sharp; the turmoil caused by the Civil Wars of the 1640s; the various new religious sects in which women participated to a surprising extent; and many others. Also scrutinized are cases of notorious criminals such as murderer Sarah Malcolm and confidence trickster Mary Toft who pretended to give birth to rabbits.

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