The fourth estate : a history of women in the Middle Ages
Did women really constitute a "fourth estate" in medieval society and, if so, in what sense?
In this wide-ranging study Shulamith Shahar considers this and the wider question of varying attitudes to women and their status in Western Europe between the 12th and the 15th centuries.
She draws a cohesive picture of women in a range of situations: as nuns and married women, peasants and noblewomen, townswomen and women involved in heretical movements and witchcraft.
In her new introduction to the second edition, Shahar revisits the context in which "The Fourth Estate" was first conceived and looks at developments in medieval women's history since the first edition.