The Ties that Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England

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Oxford University Press, 1986 - History - 346 pages
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Barbara A. Hanawalt's richly detailed account offers an intimate view of everyday life in Medieval England that seems at once surprisingly familiar and yet at odds with what many experts have told us. She argues that the biological needs served by the family do not change and that the ways fourteenth- and fifteenth-century peasants coped with such problems as providing for the newborn and the aged, controlling premarital sex, and alleviating the harshness of their material environment in many ways correspond with our twentieth-century solutions.

Using a remarkable array of sources, including over 3,000 coroners' inquests into accidental deaths, Hanawalt emphasizes the continuity of the nuclear family from the middle ages into the modern period by exploring the reasons that families served as the basic unit of society and the economy. Providing such fascinating details as a citation of an incantation against rats, evidence of the hierarchy of bread consumption, and descriptions of the games people played, her study illustrates the flexibility of the family and its capacity to adapt to radical changes in society. She notes that even the terrible population reduction that resulted from the Black Death did not substantially alter the basic nature of the family.

 

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The ties that bound peasant families in medieval England

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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 ... Read full review

Contents

Field and Village Plans
19
Toft and Croft
31
Standards of Living
45
Blood Ties and Family Wealth
65
Inheritance
67
Kinship Bonds
79
Household Size and Structure
90
Household Economy
105
Growing Up and Getting Married
188
The Partnership Marriage
205
Widowhood
220
Old Age and Death
227
Surrogate Family
243
Surrogate Parents and Children
245
Neighbors and Brotherhoods
257
Epilogue
268

The Family as an Economic Unit
107
The Husbandmans Year and Economic Ventures
124
Womens Contribution to the Home Economy
141
Children and Servants at Home and in the Fields
156
Stages of Life
169
Childhood
171
Coroners Rolls
269
Notes
275
Bibliography
320
Index
335
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About the author (1986)


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.

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