In this informative and lively volume, Margaret L. King synthesizes a large body of literature on the condition of western European women in the Renaissance centuries (1350-1650), crafting a much-needed and unified overview of women's experience in Renaissance society. Utilizing the perspectives of social, church, and intellectual history, King looks at women of all classes, in both usual and unusual settings. She first describes the familial roles filled by most women of the day--as mothers, daughters, wives, widows, and workers. She turns then to that significant fraction of women in, and acted upon, by the church: nuns, uncloistered holy women, saints, heretics, reformers,and witches, devoting special attention to the social and economic independence monastic life afforded them. The lives of exceptional women, those warriors, queens, patronesses, scholars, and visionaries who found some other place in society for their energies and strivings, are explored, with consideration given to the works and writings of those first protesting female subordination: the French Christine de Pizan, the Italian Modesta da Pozzo, the English Mary Astell.
Of interest to students of European history and women's studies, King's volume will also appeal to general readers seeking an informative, engaging entrance into the Renaissance period.