In the Middle Ages the household was such a fundamental part of the social structure that the post-1350 era has been termed ‘the Age of the Household.’ Academic studies have generally focused on the grand, itinerant households of the wealthy aristocracy, illuminating the lifestyles and pastimes of this elite class. Using the household accounts of Alice de Bryene, a widowed gentlewoman, together with bailiffs’ and stewards’ reports from her home in Suffolk and other estates further afield, this richly detailed study paints a vivid portrait of the lives of ordinary people in the medieval countryside, of festivals and feast days, marriage and monuments, family loyalties and betrayals, life and death, the rhythms of the working day and year, and the changing scene in the wider world beyond the household.

[Originally published in 1999 by Sutton Publishing Limited (UK) and Routledge Kegan Paul (USA) as Medieval Gentlewoman: Life in a Widow’s Household in the Later Middle Ages by ffiona Swabey.]

chapter |8 pages


chapter 1|19 pages

The medieval household

chapter 2|21 pages

Marriage and the family

chapter 3|22 pages

Estate management

chapter 4|21 pages

The gentle lifestyle

chapter 5|17 pages

Men at the table

chapter 6|16 pages

Women at the table

chapter 7|17 pages

The wider world

chapter 8|19 pages

Considerations for the afterlife

chapter |2 pages