Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England
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Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England : Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600

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Women brewed and sold most of the ale drunk in medieval England, but after 1350, men slowly took over the trade. By 1600, most brewers in London-as well as in many towns and villages-were male, not female. Drawing on a wide variety of sources-such as literary and artistic materials, court records, accounts, and administrative orders-Judith Bennett vividly describes how brewsters (that is, female brewers) slowly left the trade. She tells a story of commercial growth, gild formation, changing technologies, innovative regulations, and finally, enduring ideas that linked brewsters with drunkenness and disorder. Examining this instance of seemingly dramatic change in women's status, Bennett argues that it included significant elements of continuity. Women might not have brewed in 1600 as often as they had in 1300, but they still worked predominantly in low-status, low-skilled, and poorly remunerated tasks. Using the experiences of brewsters to rewrite the history of women's work during the rise of capitalism, Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England offers a telling story of the endurance of patriarchy in a time of dramatic economic change.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 276 pages
  • 160.3 x 242.6 x 21.8mm | 622.06g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • line figures, tables
  • 0195073908
  • 9780195073904

Review quote

The statistical data are extensive and illuminating ... And lest all these figures become dry and impersonal, Bennett is quick with specific examples for each point she makes. She has names and personal circumstances that add richness to her text * Sixteenth Century Journal * You don't have to be a beer drinker to appreciate the scope and scale of Dr Bennett's book * Sixteenth Century Journal *show more

Back cover copy

Women brewed and sold most of the ale drunk in medieval England, but after 1350, men slowly took over the trade. By 1600, most brewers in London - as well as in many towns and villages - were male, not female. Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England investigates this transition, asking how, when, and why brewing ceased to be a women's trade and became a trade of men. Drawing on a wide variety of sources - such as literary and artistic materials, court records, accounts, and administrative orders - Judith Bennett vividly describes how brewsters (that is, female brewers) slowly left the trade. She tells a story of commercial growth, gild formation, changing technologies, innovative regulations, and finally, enduring ideas that linked brewsters with drunkenness and disorder. Examining this instance of seemingly dramatic change in women's status, Bennett argues that it included significant elements of continuity. Women might not have brewed in 1600 as often as they had in 1300, but they still worked predominantly in low-status, low-skilled, and poorly remunerated tasks. Using the experiences of brewsters to rewrite the history of women's work during the rise of capitalism, Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England offers a telling story of the endurance of patriarchy in a time of dramatic economic change.show more

About Judith M. Bennett

Judith M. Bennett is Professor Emerita of History and John R. Hubbard Chair in British History Emerita at University of Southern California. She has published extensively on the history of women, particularly women in the middle ages. Her books include Women in the Medieval English Countryside (Oxford, 1987) and Sisters and Workers in the Middle Ages (co-editor, 1989).show more

Rating details

73 ratings
3.53 out of 5 stars
5 26% (19)
4 33% (24)
3 18% (13)
2 15% (11)
1 8% (6)
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