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The Bürgermeister's Daughter: Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town
In an era when women were supposed to be disciplined and obedient, Anna proved to be neither. Defying 16th-century social mores, she was the frequent subject of gossip because of her immodest dress and flirtatious behavior. When her wealthy father discovered that she was having secret, simultaneous affairs with a young nobleman and a cavalryman, he turned her out of the ho ...more
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Oct 15, 2012 Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere) rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
I was rummaging through the shelves and came upon this book - and stopped because I can not remember where it came from. It could have been bought in a used bookstore binge years ago (I guess that because it's hardcover) - or I could have "borrowed" it from my father, who has a similar relationship with the used bookstore. Well, however it managed to get here, it's now on the to read pile. (Humorously my father can't remember buying it either.)
What I immediately liked in the first chapter was th ...more
What I immediately liked in the first chapter was th ...more
History is so constrained by what people have chosen to set down and remember. This book is an interesting attempt to reach into 16th-century life through the examination of a bitter legal dispute that stretched over much of one woman's lifetime. Ozment does a good job of setting this personal struggle into its historical context. I wouldn't necessarily call this a page-turner, but I liked it.
I like this book. IT's a really interesting subject told as objectively and dry as possible. I get increasingly annoyed wtih creative nonfiction, which adds psychology and thought to figures we only know through centuries old 1st or 2nd hand accounts. WE dont' know whether someone said something with conviction, or grimaced in thought. This is not creative nonfiction. But the fact that this was just told through legal proceedings, and is still able to make it compelling, show's the quality of Oz ...more
An interesting social and legal history, this book tells the story of Anna Buschler and her family's legal struggles in the mid 15th century. Anna lives a rather scandalous life in her mid-twenties, and as a result is disinherited by her father, the Burgermeister (mayor) of Hall. The rest of her life is spent trying to secure the financial support of her family and her inheritance in a prolonged legal struggle against first her father, and then her siblings and the city of Hall itself. Ozment, l ...more
Not every history has to be written with a beautiful narrative, and the underlying story in this book is undeniably fascinating. The available source materials are pretty amazing in their detail. It is staggering that so much has survived. This makes it hard to apply one interpretation. There are so many witnesses, often with widely varying interpretations, that it defies a single, pat explanation. This should make for a rich and thoroughly authentic story. Unfortunately, the writing here tends ...more
I'm not much on history (as in I was never good at memorizing dates) but this is a fascinating story. Makes you realize some things never change. Families could be just as dysfunctional 500 years back as they can be now. It was difficult to follow the laws of the day but it seems there were laws to protect women just as there were laws that gave parents of unwed adult children odd power over them. All in all, an interesting read.
Anna Buschler is not the ideal daughter. When recovering two barrels of stolen items, her father discovers her letters (this is the 1500s, no e-mail) and learns that she has relationships with two unacceptable men. Since it is the 1500s and she is only 25 or so, he still has some semblance of control over her and her funds. She leaves and sues. He loses and kidnaps her, then holds her hostage in the family home for 6 months. More lawsuits and oh my! Fascinating reading.
Interesting social history of Germany in the first half of the 16th century. I was a little concerned that it was mostly the letters of Anna's that had been preserved, which I wouldn't care to read in full. But these took up only one section of the book. The rest is narrative using the letters between Anna and her boyfriends to set the stage for a discussion of her lifelong battles against her father, siblings, and the city council as well as the social conditions prevailing at the time.
I didn't finish reading this book mostly because I couldn't figure out what the author's point was in his presentation of facts. The burgermeister seems to have had a thoroughly dysfunctional family and misplaced priorities, and that the author orients his writing around the scandalous daughter seems to lack insight and miss the point. I gave up and stopped reading.
"Where there is a will, there are angry relatives" kind of sums it up. It's also not the first family I know about that cares about "stuff" more than people. Also- once you create a bunch of documentation about your failure to socialize more or less reasonably in your family of origin you get to embarrass yourself way beyond your little medieval pond.
Steven Ozment's style is easy to read and comprehend. He brings history to life. Here a family is struggling. A father is unhappy with his daughter's choices and tries to control her. Some things never change. But by using court documents and letters Mr. Ozment is able to bring it to life and let us see just how much freer than we might have thought the people of that time were.
The story of an Early Modern European girl who was led astray by local nobility. Interesting to compare modern attitudes with Early Modern society. This is NOT a novel or historical fiction. It is a history book. If you're looking for a light read, it is not for you.
I traveled to this part of the world this summer. The book was on the suggested reading list. Being the slow reader that I am, I did not start reading the book until after I got back. I agree with most of the other reviewers. It gives an insight into this part of the world at that time.