- Paperback: 654 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (September 16, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195128389
- ISBN-13: 978-0195128383
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.4 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,254,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present, Vol. 1 Revised Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The authors "ambitiously" chronicle an evolutionary cultural misogyny regarding European women. "Well-documented discussion of each era sparkles with legendary names and exploits (Eleanor of Aquitaine, Katherine von Bora, Joan of Arc), made more meaningful to modern readers by showing challenges overcome by historical women," praised PW. Illustrated.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
YA This first volume of a series begins the monumental task of analyzing history from the feminine perspective in a readable style. The authors have sifted through a wide range of primary sources to draw a reasonable picture of women's roles from prehistory to present day. Anderson and Zinsser do not find proof of mythologies such as the Amazons, but they discuss the role that such mythologies played in female aspirations throughout the Middle Ages and beyond as models for Joan of Arc and other strong women. Periods of church history which encouraged women to assume leadership are balanced against reactionary periods which denied this possibility despite Biblical support. Much of the book is spent discussing similarities in women's lives from prehistory until now, using logical categories (rural women, privileged women, town, and church women). The authors take pains to support all of their conclusions with historical citations, while keeping the book readable and interesting, if long. This is not a book to peruse for amusement, but YAs who are curious about the history of women's roles will appreciate the book in small doses. The detailed index will also make this book useful for research. Dorcas Hand, Episcopal High School, Bellaire, Tex.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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Unfortunately, I found fault with factual accuracy. I restrict comment to just one sentence: "When a province, the Vexin, was suggested as dowry for the three-year-old Marguerite, princess of France, Henry II seized her, took her to his lands in Normandy, and married her off to his five-year-old son."
No one "seized" Marguerite. Her transfer to the Plantagenet King Henry in exchange for the Vexin had been negotiated in Paris months earlier amid much ceremony by Henry's chancellor, Thomas Becket. The Vexin was not a province. The county was a strategic, heavily-fortified buffer zone between Normandy and France. King Louis VII of France was willing to trade his infant daughter into a strategic betrothal in order to control it. Apart from the Vexin's importance, both dynasties hoped that an heir born to this couple would unify England and France under one crown. This was "win-win" diplomacy. King Henry dined with King Louis and the infant's mother, Queen Constance, on the evening before he escorted ("seized") Marguerite from Paris. The royal caravan included the ladies and wet-nurses of the child's future household, as well as Marguerite's father, King Louis, and Henry. The two kings lodged the child in her new home, Henry's Norman capital, Rouen, and then toured Normandy together.
Female infants were often transferred to the family into which their parents had betrothed them, because it was believed they would thereby acquire their future in-laws' characteristics. The doctrinal source for this had endured for more than 2,000 years, since Genesis suggested that environmental influences imprint young creatures. (See Genesis 30, for the tale of Jacob, Laban and the streaked and spotted goats. For that matter, see the "woolly breeders" passage in "The Merchant of Venice" 1.3.)
I do not suggest that this treatment of Marguerite and many other noble infants, male as well as female, was humane. I am questioning the lack of factual accuracy and interpretive awareness. By all means use this book as a rich source of interesting narratives revealing women's history, but double-check the facts.
Author of "Power of a Woman. Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine"
(Eleanor writes her memoirs)
If you read most history books, you'll notice very little is mentioned about what the women were doing at that particular point in time. What was it like to be a noblewoman and have your husband go off to war? What was the daily activity for a peasant's wife? What was labor and childbirth like for women of those times? Was there a Renaissance for women? Did the spread of Christianity hurt or help women?
M's Anderson and M's Zinsser answer these questions and so much more in this well researched book. They detail the archaeological evidence that supports their writing, as well as various written works that provide a glimpse into women's lives hundreds of years ago. There are various pictures of artifacts, as well as artwork depicting women through out the years.
There are many things I never thought about in regards to being a woman in the past. The fact that female children, for example, were breastfed for only a year while their brothers nursed for two years (thereby affording more protection against diseases) seems especially disheartening. The information about the noblewoman's life seems particularly sad in this day and age. Basically a daughter was used as property by her parents who wanted her to "marry well" - perhaps to form an alliance with a more powerful noble's family or to gain land. Some parents even went as far to beat their daughters into their marriages. Their life didn't become easier once they got married. The noblewoman would have to arrange for moving to different estates, supervise the staff and the laborers, figure out the taxes and the annual income among other tasks.Not exactly how it's portrayed in movies or books, is it?
This is a book to read and ponder. All the aspects of a woman's life is covered in this compelling book - childbirth, contraception, religious practices are just some of the subjects this well organized book describes. M's Anderson and M's Zinsser makes the past come alive with their writing style. I recommend this book highly for those who want to learn more about the often overlooked history of women.