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A Medieval Family: The Pastons of Fifteenth-Century England
by Frances Gies
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060172649, Hardcover)In the early 1400s, a lawyer and judge named William Paston expanded his family's holdings by imprisoning a neighbor and seizing her property. This afforded his children a handsome inheritance, which they used to advantage, some becoming courtiers in the service of the king. During the bloody Wars of the Roses, the Pastons were fortunate to pick the winning side--not an easy task, given the constantly changing fortunes of the Lancastrians and Yorkists--and their power and influence grew. Had they sided with their long-time ally, the Earl of Oxford, at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, the Pastons would have been ruined.
But glory is transitory, and ruin eventually did come. Succeeding generations of Pastons spent their fortune more quickly than they could replenish it. In 1736, facing bankruptcy, middle-aged merchant Edward Paston sold off the family home outside London, including furniture, works of art, and a trove of documents that chronicled his family's rise to influence hundreds of years earlier. Those documents--letters, wills, and household inventories among them--inform this imaginative and well-written reconstruction by the popular medieval historians Frances and Joseph Gies, whose biography of the Paston family is also an absorbing history of English society as it emerged from the Middle Ages into the early-modern period. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 24 Jan 2013 07:46:27 -0500)
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