This chapter lays out the aim of this book: reconstructing the lives of ordinary early modern London women from their own points of view, as individuals who moved from household to household across the life cycle. It suggests that women actively pursued advancement via the means available to them, which included migration to London, where the marriage market was favorable to women. While women's lives were shaped by strong and widespread social anxieties about their gender, these sexual anxieties were sometimes countered by even stronger worries about economic stability; these competing priorities could open up moments of opportunity for women. This chapter also discusses the main archival sources for the book: the deposition books of the London consistory court, which include the depositions of roughly 2,500 women for the period 1570–1640.
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