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The Burgermeister's Daughter

Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town


Steven Ozment (View Bio)
Hardcover: St. Martin's, 1996; Paperback: HarperPerennial, 1997.

The Burgermeister's Daughter
A Book–of–the–Month Club Selecion
A History Book Club Selection
A Quality Paperback Book Club Selection

"The story, in Mr. Ozment's scrupulous and expert hands, goes well beyond the litigious Anna to encompass much else about the 16th century, including the nature of sexual morality, the social identities of men and women, the jockeying for power between the upwardly striving bourgeoisie and the downward sliding aristocracy, and the effect of the Reformation on private life." — Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"The litigious Anna fought endless battles to regain her alienated fortune, leaving behind a legal trail that has enabled Ozment to reconstruct sixteenth-century German society in rare detail — a task he carries out with even rarer grace." — The New Yorker

"Compelling, suspenseful, and 'sexy,' the story provides a driving narrative that brings into intimate contact disparate kinds of Reformation history — intellectual, political, and social — weaving them into a single text, impossible to put down." — Yale Review

"An absorbing true story of sexual intrigue, legal battles, filial piety, and social history in 16th-century Germany. Ozment (History/Harvard, PROTESTANTS, 1992) recreates the fascinating confrontation between a respected b├╝rgermeister and his free-spirited daughter. This riveting drama of an ambiguous heroine sheds light on that bygone age." — Kirkus Reviews

"A very considerable history by an accomplished scholar." — The Atlantic Monthly

"A splendid and very unusual entry into the private life of the distant past." — The New York Times Book Review

"From a Harvard historian's research into a trove of original documents emerges a captivating reconstruction of a true story that resonates with meaning for contemporary times. Sixteenth-century Anna B├╝schler, born into a prominent family in a not insignificant German city, battled her father, siblings, and the local government in a court of law over the deprivation of her rightful inheritance. Probing into 'the internal workings of a distant society,' Ozment casts balanced light on the tale of a woman who, from almost the start of her life, kicked over the traces imposed on her by her gender and social station and suffered the consequences. But rather than bowing to her expunction from her family, she chose to fight back — not with vengeance, but within the jurisprudential arena. Ozment sets the scene with color and knowledge, leaving the reader well informed about the social order that Anna came to violate flagrantly. He doesn't want us to regard her in black or white, as neither an immoral renegade nor a victim. He seeks a bigger picture than a simple re-judgment of her moral character: what her story reveals about her time and place. And the conclusion drawn from Anna's actions and reactions may surprise.... A book that is scholarly impeccable yet at the same time perfectly accessible to general readers." — Booklist

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