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The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 1500 - 1800 Paperback – 15 Jul 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Reprint edition (15 July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679768181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679768180
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A major effort at synthesis...Ms. Hufton has a keen eye for the extraordinary interest in ordinary detail."--New York Times Book Review

From the Inside Flap

How did women in 16th century western Europe cope with the consequences of being considered inherently sinful--as well as being legally and economically subordinate to their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons? What might become of a woman unable to raise a dowry? What were the difficulties faced by spinsters, single mothers, and widows? In this brilliant investigation into the lives of women from all social strata, Hufton leads us from poor-house to palazzo, from cradle to grave, illuminating what it meant to be female in western Europe during the years 1500 to 1800.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A wonderfully organised piece of work. Sound research, good narrative. This is accessible history - a good read, a work which can be thoroughly enjoyed. Hufton dissects the roles played by women - wife, mother, strumpet, witch - and the creation of a strategic plan for women: the achievement of marriage. Incisive, displays a sense of humour, to be recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very down-to-earth collection of studies that convey the state of women's lives in a grinding age of uphill struggle. The accounts start in a setting of religious war, famine, plague, witch hunts, and economic upheavals that make the 1930s Great Depression look gentle. We are introduced to real women from these centuries telling their stories with candor. There are thread-spinning "spinsters" who lose their jobs en masse, Catholic nuns breaking out of cloisters for vocations beyond chastity, and Protestant wives doing likewise with less institutional support. Hufton's contributors trace the mainly volunteer-driven rise of education by and for females. They portray Europe's ancient caste-like divisions of roles or virtues for men and for women, shifting at roughly the speed of a melting glacier. From seeing initiative by females as the original source of evil, society begins to trust tapping women's potential for innovation.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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Format: Paperback
No matter how many history books you have read, if you don't read this one you won't be able to see the whole of the story. Facts of everyday life that help to understand the behaviour of people are mostly forgotten in other books. The role of women is almost never shown and obviosly they were half of the population.
This book takes time to read, and some chapters are somewhat arid, but most of them are full of really interesting facts. As the book is properly structured, it is easy to use as a reference book as information is easy to find, in a way is like an encyclopedia of social history focused on women, but not exclusively on women.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting book though it can be a little dull in places. Makes one realise that women had many problems modern would find difficult to cope with, but also some surprising rights and privileges.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A huge subject in an easy to read format 31 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
The period 1500 - 1800 is marked with great social and political upheaval. Olwen Hufton has taken on a monumental task in trying to show, not only the various types of women within this period (rural, urban, old, young, wives, widows, spinsters) but also how their lives changed as society and politics changed (renaissance, industrial revolution, religous oppression). The result is an easy to read and entertaining book that gives a general picture of the women of Western Europe (using various surveys and censuses) as well as concentrating on specific areas to give a human face to the statistics (personal accounts, diaries). The extensive notes and bibliography make it usuful for those who wish to study more about this period.
An informative and entertaining read
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the lives of women in the past 11 Jan. 2001
By Lesley West - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you want to thank your lucky stars for the things that are available to us in modern times, read this book. It is an excellent scholarly overview of the lives and times in the period it covers, but as well it is a fascinating book for anyone who enjoys reading about times past.
Each chapter addresses an area that was of interest to women of the times, and remain of interest today - health, cooking etc, and they are so complete in addressing the issues that they read like small essays on their own.
This is a really enjoyable book, and not just for its scholarly value.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent view of history 4 Feb. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A history course in a University should be created around this book! So might insightful information about the day-to-day existence of people during this period in history. An incredible amount of information is provided in an easy-to-read format by the author. A must read for anyone interested in the histoy of women throughout the ages.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bruising but uplifting set of great-great-great grandmothers' real tales 16 Jan. 2008
By Brian Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a very down-to-earth collection of studies that convey the state of women's lives in a grinding age of uphill struggle. The accounts start in a setting of religious war, famine, plague, witch hunts, and economic upheavals that make the 1930s Great Depression look gentle. We are introduced to real women from these centuries telling their stories with candor. There are thread-spinning "spinsters" who lose their jobs en masse, Catholic nuns breaking out of cloisters for vocations beyond chastity, and Protestant wives doing likewise with less institutional support. Hufton's contributors trace the mainly volunteer-driven rise of education by and for females. They portray Europe's ancient caste-like divisions of roles or virtues for men and for women, shifting at roughly the speed of a melting glacier. From seeing initiative by females as the original source of evil, society begins to trust tapping women's potential for innovation.

--author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous History 30 April 2013
By TR - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not for the faint of heart, but it really opens your eyes as to what the condition of women was during this period. The author deals with women across the entire spectrum of society, and divides the periods of a woman's life according to the events that would have shaped her destiny the most. It would be perfect for graduate or doctoral students, or writers seeking to gain broad knowledge of a certain period. Highly recommended.
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