The Burger Meister’s Daughter Analysis

1251 words - 6 pages

Drawn from her surviving love letters and court records, The Burgermeister's Daughter is an engaging examination of the politics of sexuality, gender and family in the 16th century, and a supreme testament to the grit and perseverance of a woman who challenged the inequalities of this distant age. The story, in Steven Ozment's meticulous and experienced hands, goes well beyond the litigious Anna to encompass much else about the 16th century, including the nature of sexual morality, the social individuality of men and women, the jockeying for power between the upwardly striving bourgeoisie and the downward sliding nobility, and the aftereffect of the reformation on private life. Steven Ozment's understanding of the Medieval German society and its effects on its citizens is amazing. Steven Ozment brings a medieval drama to life in this extensively researched and absorbing account of the 30-year lawsuit between Anna Buschler and her family. Anna's father was the Burgermeister (mayor) of the German town of Schwabisch Hall. He banished his daughter from the family home in 1525 after he read letters that proved her sexual connection with two men. Anna responded by suing her father. Anna Buschler looked predestined to a comfortable and serene life, not one of constant personal and legal conflict. Born into an eminent and respectable family, self-confident and high-spirited in her youth, and a woman of acknowledged beauty, she had a standing as the beauty of her hometown, and as something of a free soul. In an era when women were presumed to be disciplined and loyal, Anna proved to be neither. Defying 16th-century social mores, she was the constant subject of defamation because of her indecent dress and flirtatious behavior. When her wealthy father found that she was having secret, concurrent affairs with a young nobleman and a cavalryman, he turned her out of the house in rage, but when she sued him for financial support, he had her arrested, returned home and chained to a table as punishment. Anna finally runaway and continued her suit against her father, her siblings and her home town in a harsh legal battle that was to last 30 years and end only upon her death. Anna was highly vulnerable to such scrutiny. Both in her late teens and in her twenties, she had behaved in a manner dishonorable to the society in which she lived. Her story is one of manifold sinking relationships: between a daughter and a father, a sister and her siblings, a servant and her mistress, a woman and her lovers, a citizen and her town. Twice, in original and unforgettable ways, she brought humiliation and embarrassment to her family and the city of Hall: the first time, when she cheated her father and incurred his undying wrath, the second, twenty years later, when she challenged the city council and infuriated its retaliation. “"Steven Ozment's The Burgermeister's Daughter, Scandal in a Sixteenth Century Town continues the theme of family. It recounts the familial and legal...

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