Book Review: When Fathers Ruled

When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe (Studies in Cultural History)When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe by Steven E. Ozment
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brief, but insightful introduction to the family during the Reformation. The book is focused on places like Zurich and Basel. What I found helpful is that he did not focus on Geneva. I know a lot about Geneva, but little about the Reformation in other areas. The reader is taken into the minds of early 16th century Christians by way of primary firsthand accounts. This is the book’s strength and its weakness. We get a worm’s view of how men and women viewed marriage and children. But there is no real bird’s eye view. It is the difference between a memoir of a man at war and a story about the war. This was more a memoir. Ozment does a good job undoing many false ideas about husbands, wives, marriage, and children that moderns place on the Reformation age. It was also filled with helpful facts and data. The chapter about bearing children was very fascinating, as Ozment looked into a medical book from the age for information on the problems associated with pregnancy and birth. Some of it was gut-wrenching, such as all the ways to removed a dead baby from the mother’s womb. I want to read more on this particular topic, but Ozment did a good job of clearing away some of my false conceptions.

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