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Single life and the city

Ariadne Schmidt, Isabelle Devos and Julie de Groot provide you with refreshing insights concerning the study on urban singles in the period between 1200 and 1900.

Ariadne Schmidt, Isabelle Devos and Julie de Groot
19 August 2015
Book on the website of Palgrave Macmillan publishers

Today, singleness is often represented as a new and increasingly popular lifestyle, particularly in the city. However, single people crowded European towns from the late middle ages onward. This book discusses the living conditions of women and men living without a spouse in cities in western Europe, and reflects on differences and similarities in the past. Throughout the volume, singles' lives are examined via a continuum of lenses ranging from labour and social activities to living arrangements and material culture. The collection provides some of the first comparisons of single men and women and sheds light on new groups of single women, such as beguines, prostitutes and heads of households. Not only do the singles portrayed in this book emphasize the diversity of their experiences, they also call stereotypes into question. By providing fresh approaches and evidence to the study of singles in the urban past, the authors assembled here move the field forward and profitably expand the lens of marital status.

Table of contents

  1. Working Alone? Single Women in the Urban Economy of Late Medieval Flanders (Thirteenth-Early Fifteenth Centuries); Peter Stabel 
  2. Creating a Space for Themselves on the Urban Market. Survival Strategies and Economic Opportunities for Single Women in French Provincial Towns (Seventeenth-Eighteenth Centuries); Anne Montenach 
  3. Maids, Noblewomen, Journeymen, State Officials, and Others. Unmarried Adults in Four Swedish Towns, 1750–1855; Dag Lindström 
  4. Destitute in December. Unmarried Scots Navigating Poverty in Paisley, 1861; Wendy M. Gordon 
  5. Desperately Seeking the Single Man in Later Medieval England; P.J.P. Goldberg
  6. To Be or not to Be a Beguine in an Early Modern Town: Piety or Pragmatism? The Great Beguinage of St. Catherine in Sixteenth-Century Mechelen; Kim Overlaet 
  7. 'Why did she not live with her husband and how was she able to support herself?' Grass Widow Prostitutes in Eighteenth-Century Bruges; Maja Mechant 
  8. Single Life in Fifteenth-Century Bruges. Living Arrangements and Material Culture at the Fringes of Urban Society; Inneke Baatsen, Julie De Groot and Isis Sturtewagen 
  9. Single People and the Material Culture of the English Urban Home in the Long Eighteenth Century; David Hussey and Margaret Ponsonby 
  10. Rich, Male and Single. The Consumption Practices of Edward Leigh, 1742-1786; Jon Stobart 
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