Steven Ozment. The Burgermeister's Daughter. New York: Harper Collins, 1997. 223.
The Burgermeister's Daughter by Steven Ozment is a discussion of a woman's struggle against her hometown's judicial system and social prejudices in the sixteenth-century German town of Hall. Elements of Anna Buschler's, the Burgermeister's daughter, life is used to present the oppressive nature of German society towards women. Ozment's biography of a young women allows the reader to draw conclusions about women's roles in society and realities of legal issues they may not initially set out with in the beginning.
The book in set in the Southern German town of Hall. Here is when it is said that Anna Buschler spent half her life "battling her father, siblings and city hall (Ozment 2)" over her inheritance. The town was organized politically organized with a council of twenty-four non-elected councilmen and an appointed Burgermeister acting as a modern-day mayor (Ozment 8-9). Anna's father was this appointed Burgermeister. These powerful men worked tirelessly to silence and drag out Anna's legal matters to stop her from obtaining justice. Not being married at an appropriate age, sexual relationships with two men out-of-wedlock without her father's knowing were the crime Anna was accused of against society and her family. Anna was also accused of tireless stealing from her father and leading a generally undisciplined, scandalous and reprehensible life (Ozment 2).
Ozment describes the period in which Anna's story takes place is "a low point in the history of women" especially when compared to "the golden age" of the 1300-1500's that preceded it (Ozment 5). Anna's childhood and adolescence were normal by town standards. Typically, young women with family status that Anna's had stayed at home and learned homemaking from their mothers. Anna was permitted to learn this skill outside of the home, a rarity for a daughter of a Burgermeister. She was sent to Limpuurg Schenks to learn this. Schenks were a larger quasi royal household outside of Hall. Ozment give the reader a sense that perhaps political gain and not just Anna learning the skills to be a good wife was the reasoning behind the Burgermeister allowing Anna to work so long for the Schenks (Ozment 9).
Very near or considered past marriage age Anna returned home upon the death of her Mother, to be the housekeeper. Anna's age is the authors first point of her breaking societies norms. In the period of the text young women were expected to choose a suitor of everyone's liking and marry. Historically marriage was a means to gain political and or powerful allies. The Burgermeister and Anna both blame the stubbornness of one another for Anna not being married. Whatever the cause, it is one of many that the residents of Hall considered socially questionable or unacceptable.
The affairs with multiple men outside of marriage, "not immodest dress, thievery, or poor housekeeping that made Herman Buschler send...