Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Money makes things happen, as Daniel Murtaugh cogently notes in his study of Old French fabliau. It is an important motive force for economic, political, and personal power. But money in its concrete quantifiable form—pennies, pounds, florins, reíais, maravedís, and livres—is just the starting point for a study of gender and the sociology of economics in Europe in the Middle Ages. The authors whose essays are collected in this book emphasize that in the complex and subtle intersection of women and money, the question was not a simple calculus of how women got money and spent it, but also what money meant in terms of human values and morals. Their questions revolve on the nexus of work, commerce, and power but they use money to illuminate the operations of gender in the power structures, social conflicts, and cultural traditions, how wealth was experienced by women, and the subtle shifts in meaning of abstract notions of wealth.1


Family Identity Glass Ceiling Cash Economy Medieval Literature Canterbury Tale 
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  1. 1.
    For the classical formulation of wealth, see Aristotle, Politics, trans. Benjamin Jowett (New York: The Modern Library, 1943). For an overview of medieval Christian attitudes toward money and wealth, see Lester K. Little, Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1978). Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776) made the decisive turn to modern economics as a quantitative inquiry based on monetary indices of income (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979).Google Scholar
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© Theresa Earenfight 2010

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