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The Great Household in Late Medieval England
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0300076878, Hardcover)Outside the present-day royal households, little remains in Britain that can compare with the "great household." A gradually dying entity since the early 20th century, the great household included family, servants, and hangers-on, and provided more than merely food and shelter for its members. As C.M. Woolgar argues in his book The Great Household in Late Medieval England, the great household functioned as a social microcosm and, consequently, day-to-day life in and around the household provides valuable insight into the period's social history.
The Great Household examines the basic characteristics of both aristocratic and gentry households between 1200 and 1500: size, membership, dynamics, economics, and social context. Woolgar bases his study on the households of two aristocrats, two gentry families, and two bishops. Together, they provide examples of a style of living at different ranks of upper-class society and a geographical spread across the country. Eight chapters focus on various elements of medieval life, including food and drink, rituals of preparing and consuming meals, religion and intellectual life, household size, and concepts of hospitality. He supplements his study with tables, period illustrations and illuminations, and contemporary photographs. An archivist and head of special collections at the University of Southampton, Woolgar enthusiastically embraces his subject matter and knows it well. Frequently, however, his passion for detail obfuscates critical analysis and broader contrast of medieval households with each other or with those of other periods. Nevertheless, The Great Household in Late Medieval England paints a fascinating portrait of upper-class medieval life. --Bertina Loeffler Sedlack
(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 01 Feb 2013 08:38:36 -0500)
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An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.
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