This book is a critique of the notion that patriarchy is somehow a “natural state of mankind.” It is also a history of woman’s legal place throughout history. It was published in 1965
From the preface
“…as historians probe back into the twilight period of pre-history, it is becoming accepted that an ancient matriarchy existed when women were both honoured and looked upon as the guiding element in society”.
From the forward
“When I began many years ago to write a short account of the legal position of women from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day, I had no intention of embarking on a wider field. Then someone said to me: “You know, the mere account of the legal position of women affords a very partial view of their actual status at any given period.” This I saw was particularly true in medieval times when the influence of tradition and custom did much to mitigate the position of subjection laid down by Common Law. Gradually I started to collect the material to place a social and economic study guide side by side with the legal one and, in doing so, to endeavour to give a more complete picture of the status of women. Circumstance intervened and the manuscript was forgotten for many years. During this time I had become greatly interested in the Science of Religion, a profound metaphysical school of thought that bridges the material world of action to the immaterial world of idea. I realised that it is the thoughts of men and their philosophy of life which are the underlying causes of historical development. Thus eventually the present work emerged which views the subjection of women, and their emancipation, a part of the psychological development which cannot be shown without spanning the ages and placing it in the framework of an evolutionary process”.