thomas tusser definition of huswiferie
Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie (1580 ed.); British Museum

Huswiferie examines medieval housewife manuals, within which are contained concepts of women’s work specific to a noble woman running a home.

The economic class is indicated in the most common examples of housewife manuals through the presence of house staff / servants.  Thomas Tusser (b.1524, d.1580), for example, writes in Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie (Booke of Huswiferie) that the housewife is to “call the servants” upon waking (verse 76. Breakefast Doings).

The housewife is responsible for all aspects of operations of her home, which would have included staff, livestock, children, wards, and Lords.  Her burden of knowledge is great: she must be an expert in management, culinary arts, medicinal arts, handcraft of all sorts.  Of specific interest to this medievalist is, of course, her duty in general physicke (medicine).

For further exploration into recreations of huswiferie and Tudor English medicine, please see My recreations from The English Housewife by Gervase Markham.