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For Her Good Estate: The Life of Elizabeth…

For Her Good Estate: The Life of Elizabeth de Burgh

by Frances A. Underhill

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For Her Good Estate recounts the trials and triumphs of a fourteenth-century English noblewoman. Elizabeth de Burgh led a tumultuous early life: an arranged marriage, an abduction leading to a clandestine second marriage, a forced third marriage to a man who died a traitor. Afterwards, empowered by a vow of chastity to insure her independence, Elizabeth emerged as a capable administrator of her vast estates, a concerned mother and grandmother, a shrewd builder of social and political networks, and a good friend. She expressed her piety by many charitable initiatives, culminating in the foundation of Clare College, Cambridge University, a demonstration of her devotion to God and to learning. This book is the first biography of this remarkable woman. Underhill shows how deeply gender issues influenced her life and how admirably Elizabeth rose above them to impact the lives of others. Hedged in by gender barriers, Underhill reveals, Elizabeth achieved prestige among her contemporaries and left a lasting legacy after her death.… (more)



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A solid biography of the fourteenth-century English noblewoman Elizabeth de Burgh: granddaughter of a king, co-heiress of the great Clare estates, survivor of the Black Death and the fallout of one politically toxic husband, and the font of some voluminous household accounts which allow for the reconstruction of her daily life with some degree of accuracy. She is perhaps best known nowadays as the endowing patron of Clare College, Cambridge. Frances Underhill makes a good case here for her as a worthy object of study in her own right. True, Elizabeth's personal life and inner piety remain largely opaque by the book's end, but Underhill contextualises what we do know of Elizabeth's life with care through a series of first chronological and then thematic chapters. A worthwhile and quite accessible read for those interested in how a woman could wield authority in the High Middle Ages. ( )
  siriaeve | Oct 4, 2017 |
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