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Introduction

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

Abstract

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

Keywords

Family Identity Glass Ceiling Cash Economy Medieval Literature Canterbury Tale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  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
  2. 2.
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  6. 3.
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  9. 4.
    John W. Baldwin, “The Medieval Theories of the Just Price,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 49:4 (1959): 1–94 (rpt. in Pre-Capitalist Economic Thought, New York: Arno, 1972);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  11. 5.
    Victoria De Grazia and Ellen Furlough, The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996).Google Scholar
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  21. 8.
    Alice Clark’s The Working Life of Women in the Seventeenth-Century (New York: Dutton, 1919) focused on a later period and is older but still useful.Google Scholar
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  33. 9.
    William Chester Jordan, Women and Credit in Pre-Industrial and Developing Societies (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993);Google Scholar
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  37. 10.
    See, for example, Susan Mosher Stuard, “Marriage Gifts and Fashion Mischief,” in The Medieval Marriage Scene: Prudence, Passion, Policy, ed. Sherry Roush and Cristelle L. Baskins, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, vol. 299 (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005), pp. 169–85;Google Scholar
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    Martha C. Howell, “The Gender of Europe’s Commercial Economy, 1200–1700,” Gender and History 20:3 (November 2008): 519–38, quotes on pp. 520 and 532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 13.
    Women who engaged in physical labor carried a stigma akin to prostitution. On the economic implications of prostitution, see Ruth Mazo Karras, Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
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  44. 14.
    Cary Nederman and Martin Morris, “Rhetoric, Violence, and Gender in Machiavelli,” in Feminist Interpretations of Niccolò Machiavelli, ed. Maria J. Falco (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004), pp. 267–86.Google Scholar
  45. 15.
    Jack L. Amariglio, “The Body, Economic Discourse, and Power: An Economist’s Introduction to Foucault,” History of Political Economy, 20:4 (Winter 1988): 583–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 16.
    Sheilagh Ogilvie, A Bitter hiving: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 17.
    Sheila Delany, “Sexual Economics, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath and The Book of Margery Kempe,” in Feminist Readings in Middle English Literature: The Wife of Bath and All Her Sect, ed. Ruth Evans and Lesley Johnson (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 71–87.Google Scholar
  48. 18.
    On the economics of religion and intercession, see also Katherine L. French, “Maidens’ Lights and Wives’ Stores: Women’s Parish Guilds in Late Medieval England,” Sixteenth Century Journal: The Journal of Early Modern Studies 29:2 (Summer 1998): 399–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 20.
    See also Therese Martin, “The Art of a Reigning Queen as Dynastic Propaganda in Twelfth-Century Spain,” Speculum 80:4 (October 2005): 1134–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Theresa Earenfight 2010

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