Ann Baer

Medieval Woman

A year in the life of a peasant woman in medieval England is vividly evoked in this extraordinary portrait of Marion, a carpenter’s wife, and her extended family. Based on years of research, Ann Baer brings to life the reality of a world that has been lost.

Rising before dawn in a tiny village to a day of gruelling hard work, Marion and her husband face the daily struggle for survival. Starvation is never far away and travel to the next village is virtually unheard of. Existing without soap, paper or glass and with only the most basic of tools, sickness, fire and natural disaster ever threaten to engulf the small, tightly knit community.

At the mercy of the weather and the Lord of the Manor, each equally unpredictable and inescapable, Marion’s life is burdensome but also displays an admirable dignity and fortitude in the face of adversity.

The little village is at one with the natural world around it and each member has a role to play and a place in the hierarchy.

Simple people, living unrecorded lives in remote villages not on the way to anywhere are brought back into focus in Medieval Woman. Ann Baer defines and celebrates the woman at the heart of the community.

This is a unique approach to history, compressing decades of in-depth research on the Middle Ages into one single, immersive, compelling narrative.
367 printed pages
Publication year
2012
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Impressions

    Daria Pozharkoshared an impression2 years ago
    👍Worth reading
    💡Learnt A Lot

Quotes

    Ruby Toppinghas quoted2 years ago
    Rollo lived at the Hall, sleeping on a straw bed on the dais between Sir Hugh’s and Magda’s leather-curtained beds,
    shnykinahas quoted8 months ago
    A gust of wind, blowing in through the half-door, whirled the wood ash from the fire about and some of it settled on the milk in a wide wooden bucket. She went to close the half-door, but instead leant her aching head against the doorpost and looked down the garden and up into the steep forest beyond.
    Above the hazels and the briars, now in small leaf, the forest floor rose in sheet after sheet of misty bluebells, and with every gust of wind their sweet refreshing scent blew to her nostrils. It was a sight so brief, so immense, so familiar, and yet every year so unbelievable, that she stood there staring at it. She considered that the bluebells were some kind of special blessing visited on Down the Common cottagers – for all the other advantages Rockwell had, there were no bluebells in their woods. A brief easing of anxiety filled her mind.
    shnykinahas quoted8 months ago
    Marion looked down the garden, a gentle slope, with Peter and Peterkin digging near the bottom. The hedge on the right was full of silver ash twigs, dotted with black buds, sticking straight up above the bright green grass. Beyond the ditch at the end of the garden the forest sloped up steeply, bare of leaf – tall smooth beeches, roughened oaks, corrugated ashes, standing up on the red-brown leaf-mould earth through which patches of juicy bluebell leaves and dog’s mercury were now showing. Dotted about this steep wood were dark yew trees and the occasional wild cherry, misty white with opening blossom. Nearer to, in the undergrowth of elder and honeysuckle, hazel bushes were draped in long yellow catkins, sometimes straining out horizontally in the gusts of wind, then bouncing around as the wind released them. Marion looked to the left, beyond the garden fence and her apple tree, still only in tight bud, to the birch trees on the Common. The green veil that covered them today had hardly been apparent yesterday, and the snowy blackthorn in the hedge had thickened. She picked a primrose from a clump in the grass and sniffed its tiny velvety scent, then she called to Peter and Peterkin to come and eat. She went in herself and gave the primrose to Alice, showing her how to smell it first.

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