A Medieval Family: The Pastons of Fifteenth-Century England

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ORB Bibliographies: Marriage in Fifteenth-Century England

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Bodies And Disciplines Intersections of Literature and History in Fifteenth Century England Medieval

State Library Victoria. While we do not know if the collections we have are only the tip of the iceberg, there are no other references to comparable family collections that might have once existed. Many of the letters show considerable sophistication and it seems unlikely they came out of nowhere in terms of vocabulary, style, and organization. But in one swoop, in terms of lay literacy and as a window into family life and affairs, we go from a society with almost no intrafamily communications to one that offers some large collections of such items.

There are almost one thousand letters written by or received by the Pastons , and though the other family collections are smaller, they too are impressive in their scope: in their scholarly editions, there are letters and miscellaneous documents in the Cely collection, for the Stonors , and for the Plumptons.

The Healing Arts and Social Capital: The Paston Women of Fifteenth-Century England.

Moreover, except for the Celys , all the letter collections reflect multigenerational letter-writing. The Paston Letters mostly run from to ; the Plumptons, —, and the Stonors, — though mostly from the 15th century. Also of interest, a fair number of the letters were by women, though these were usually dictated rather than actually penned by the nominal writer. As both writers and recipients the women may figure as active agents in family business; more frequently they play the role of stay-at-home coordinator, the center point for communication while the men traveled.

The many editions of the letters—especially those of the Pastons—and the impressive body of writing about them indicates that the light they shed on late medieval family life continues to be of interest.

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All of the letter collections are now available in editions that meet current scholarly standards. There is no single source that can serve as a reference guide to the collections. For many of the individuals of prominence the entries in major biographical reference works can serve as a useful introduction. Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Edited by Joseph R. New York: Scribner, — Has entries on the Pastons, Vol. Polack, Vol. History of Parliament: The House of Commons, — Edited by J.