This collection of sources demonstrates the variety of evidence that survives of English women in all walks of life from the time of Edward I to the eve of the Reformation. The sources are introduced by a substantial overview of current thinking about English medieval women below the level of the greater aristocracy. In addition, Goldberg explores many of the methodological problems and strengths of particular sources. Individual chapters explore the life-cycle themes of childhood, adolescence, married life, widowhood and old age.
The study then moves on to examine such topics as work in town and country, prostitution, the law, recreation and devotion. In every case the reader is exposed to a range of sources, but particular attention is paid to those sources that reflect actual experience or provide insights into the lives of ordinary women rather than the prescriptive or purely literary texts. A particular feature of this collection is the extensive use of church court depositions that allow the voices of peasant women, servant girls, bourgeois wives, or poor widows to be heard across the centuries. The sources are presented in a form designed to be accessible to undergraduates, but of interest to teachers and researchers alike.