Author: Eileen Power
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Throughout her career as a medieval historian, Eileen Power was engaged on a book on women in the Middle Ages. She did not live to write the book but some of the material she collected found its way into her popular lectures on medieval women. These lectures were brought together and edited by M.M. Postan. They reveal the world in which women lived, were educated, worked and worshiped. Power gives a vivid account of the worlds of the lady, the peasant, the townswoman and the nun. The result is a historical yet intimate picture of a period gone by yet with resonances for today. An intimate portrait of the writer and social historian, by Maxine Berg, is also included.
An interesting look at the life of women in the Middle Ages.
Firstly, an interesting aspect of Eileen's work is that the book isn't something she actually assembled herself, unfortunately. Rather, it was put together after her death, with the essays she composed compiled into a book. How much this influences and impacts how the book is read and consumed is unknown, but it is interesting to wonder how different the book would be had it been something she made herself. That piece of information aside, the book gives an excellent look at how women acted and were treated in the Middle Ages, and the different Medieval views of their role within society.
While prior knowledge of the Medieval era would be beneficial going into the book, it's not really necessary. The book is very accessible to those who are looking to know more about the era. It says a great deal about an author's writing style if they are able to write for both academics and the regular reader, which is exactly what Eileen is able to do.
Eileen gives a great insight into the medieval world, and the role of women in the different social castes, and how this developed throughout the period. What's great is that she mainly references medieval and early-modern sources on the different topics, rather than being influenced by more modern ideals and beliefs of the era.
If you are interested in history, medieval history and women's history, this is a fantastic book to read. It's a relatively quick and easy read if you're looking to learn a little something, or a just gradually getting into learning about the era. A must-read for anyone with an interest in history and women's history.