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The Great Household in Late Medieval England

C. M. Woolgar


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In the later medieval centuries, a whole range of important social, political, and artistic activities took place against the backdrop of the great English households. In this lively book, C. M. Woolgar explores the fascinating details of life in a great house. Based on extensive investigation of household accounts and related primary documents, Woolgar vividly illuminates the operations of great households. He also delineates the major changes that transformed the economy and geography of both lay and clerical households between 1200 and 1500.

In this portrait of aristocratic and gentry life in medieval England, Woolgar describes the roles of family members, the situations of servants, the uses of space within the household, food and drink for daily consumption and for special occasions, furnishing, clothing, arrangements for travel, household animals, cleanliness and hygiene, entertainment, the practices of religion, and intellectual life. The author also analyzes the qualitative and social evolution of great households as definitions of magnificence and conventions of etiquette became increasingly elaborate.

Yale University Press, 9780300076875, 288pp.

Publication Date: April 10, 1999

About the Author

C. M. Woolgar is archivist and head of special collections at the University of Southampton Library and director of the Hartley Institute at the University of Southampton.