Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, a brilliant historian of the Annales school, skillfully uncovers the lives of ordinary Italians of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Tuscans in particular, young and old, rich, middle-class, and poor. From the extraordinarily detailed records kept by Florentine tax collectors and the equally precise "ricordanze" (household accounts with notations of events great and small), Klapisch-Zuber draws a living picture of the Tuscan household. We learn, for example, how children were named, how wet nurses were engaged, how marriages were negotiated and celebrated. A wealth of other sources are tapped--including city statutes, private letters, philosophical works on marriage, paintings--to determine the social status of women. Klapisch-Zuber reveals how women, in their roles as daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers, were largely subject to a family system that needed them but valued them little.