by ffiona Swabey
I bought this book to assist me in creating my character when I was playing in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I wanted the freedom to be a single woman, wealthy enough to live on my own without the responsibilities that great status would bring. Rich enough to be comfortable, but not so rich as to be a target for marriage to a man looking for a rich marriage portion, and well connected to men who would protect me without interfering with my life.
Alice de Brynne fit the bill nicely. As a householder and landowner of several large estates, she had more freedom than most women of her time, and she spent it in tending to her estates. Her day-to-day life was closely attuned to her tenants and their needs. According to her account books, her daily meals with her tenants were simple, with occasional meals more lavish than usual when entertaining visiting prelates or aristocracy. She knew the names and families of her workers. Hers was a familiar face in the fields and workhouses on the main estate of Acton.
In addition to being full of the detail of daily life, this book is beautifully produced, with many black-and-white pictures as well as color pictures. It is a detailed portrait of an ordinary medieval gentlewoman.