The contributions to this volume show that, in pre-industrial Europe, women in their prime, women, that is, who had reached maturity and were beyond fertility, but not yet in old age, constitute a separate category for historical and literary analysis. These wise old women, or WOWs, took on tasks in society which were essentially different from the ones they had taken on before, mainly in the household. The case studies presented here show that some of these women entered a second phase of creativity and productivity and were even able to fulfil their desires at the age of forty. Being able, at last, to find their authentic selves, they acquired a female voice of their own. For some of them, for example, Christine de Pizan, the age of forty even functioned as a trope of female authorship.
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...aristocrat, or were they the prime movers? While the English Catholic aristocracy and the Irish peasants and merchants approached the Catholic Question in very different ways, they manifestly shared the...