"The Great Household in Late Medieval England" by C. M.              Woolgar

The Great Household in Late Medieval England C. M. Woolgar

Publication date:
10 Apr 1999
Yale University Press
288 pages: 248 x 171mm
70 b-w + 16 color illus.

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.

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.

"Medieval historians have long felt the want of a good book on these matters. Dr. Woolgar?s has been worth waiting for. It is carefully researched, clearly presented, perceptive and up-to-date, a mine of information not only on household matters but on medieval social history, accessible alike to scholar, student, and general reader."?Nicholas Orme, Church Times

?In this exhaustively detailed yet thoroughly accessible work, Woolgar focuses on the noble and royal household from the end of the 13th century to the beginning of the Tudor. . . . Should be part of every college library?s medieval collection.??Choice

"Mr. Woolgar?s command of the sources is impressive and there is a great deal here to beguile and inform any interested reader."?John Goodall, Country Life

?A wide-ranging and fascinating discussion of the subject . . . an extensive study . . . exceptionally well referenced and impeccably indexed. It is a pleasure to dip into, and it certainly conveys the central importance of the household as an economic and cultural unit. What it does most of all is to provide a tremendously vivid insight into the lifestyle of the upper classes. . . . [Woolgar] has conjured the subject to life in a manner which will bring it to the attention of a wide audience, and yet will also raise scholarly awareness of its significance.??Anne Curry, Economic History Review

?A must for anyone who interprets the late middle ages in museums and galleries or at surviving sites.??Wendy Cameron, Notes and Queries

?An indispensable and accessible overview of the household systems of the gentry and aristocracy in England between 1200 and 1500. His careful research, excellent synthetic skills, and the wealth of illustrations that accompany his text make this book an informative and engrossing read. . . . The Great Household provides social and cultural historians of the period with an elegant and more reliable view of this important institution, and will shape further study in the field."?Deborah E. Harkness, Renaissance Quarterly

?This magnificent book . . . ranges encyclopedically across periods and topics, skillfully integrates literary and physical evidence with documents, and is written in a lively and accessible style. . . . A remarkable achievement. It is hard to see how this can be improved on as a survey of the greater medieval English households."?Michael Hicks, Southern History