The Paston family of Norfolk, England, has long been known to medieval scholars for its large collection of personal correspondence, which has survived five centuries. Until now, however, they have remained virtually unknown to the general reading public. Revealing a wealth of information about the manners, morals, lifestyles, and attitudes of the late Middle Ages, the letters also tell a story of three generations of the fifteenth-century Paston family that reads like a historical novel full of memorable characters:
Margaret Paston, the indomitable wife and mother who fought the family's battles;
her husband, John Paston I, tough, hardheaded, and thrice confined to Fleet Prison but never yielding to his enemies;
daughter Margery, who scandalised family and friends by falling in love with the Paston bailiff, Richard Calle;
lighthearted, chivalric Sir John; and
cheerful, sensible John III, who against all odds succeeded in marrying for love.
A Medieval Family traces the family history from 1420, through the stormy Wars of the Roses, to the early 1500s. The family's story, extracted from their letters and papers and told largely in their own words, shows a side of history rarely revealed: the lives and fortunes not of kings and queens but of ordinary people with problems, tragedies, and moments of happiness.