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An Analytical Critique of The Burgermeisters Daughter


Megan McIlmail
University of Alaska Anchorage

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An Analytical Critique of The Burgermeisters Daughter

Perhaps one of the most interesting and shocking accounts of a tale forgotten by history,
The Burgermeisters Daughter by Steven Ozmet is a clear work of passion and historical
significant. History books are often claimed to be written by the winners, which the author uses
this adage as fuel for his incredible recounting of Anna Buschlers fall from social grace. Facing
adversity that most would fall in the face of, Anna defies social norms and gender expectations in
what is possibly one of the longest and most arduous legal battles to ever be recounted.
Introduction to the Author
Before we continue into the discussion of the book itself, its important to recognize the
author, Steven Ozmet, and his feelings about Annas story. It is evident from the first pages of the
book that he believes Anna to be the victim of social injustice and sexist persecution. An
example of this is when he states, her story is a [also] one of revolt against deceit, tyranny, and
exploitation (Ozmet, pg. 5). However, he does not allow this to prevent him from recounting
the more questionable actions of Anna and provides explanations for his beliefs that she may be
more of a victim than a money thirsty harlot. Overall, the authors use of voice and his
recounting of her misfortunes are refreshing, concise, and moving in a way that no historical
recounting has presented itself to be.
Major Thesis
Many recurring themes are addressing throughout The Burgermeisters Daughter. Some
examples of this include, but are not limited to, the dangers of political governments that are
allowed to remain unchecked, religion as an influencing factor on daily life, and the roles of
parents and children. However, the most prominent thesis for this book has to be this: your
gender does not have to confine you, so long as you do not allow it to. From the very beginning,

Analytical Critique

Anna is breaking the moral code of 16th century Germany by having an extramarital affair with
not one, but two men. She would often dress provocatively, break social decorum, and even
engaged in thievery. When she is discovered, he father, Hermann Buschler, he casts her out of his
home and wrongfully disinherits her. Throughout the book, many questions are risen as to the
nature of her relationship with her father, but it could be seen as a combination of his intolerance
towards her and her defiant behavior and attitude. At this point in history, there was very little a
woman in Annas situation could do, however she sought the proper resources, learned her
options, and continued to fight for her rights as a dependent daughter until her death in 1552.
This tale of resiliency speaks to her unwillingness to conform to the limitations that had been
placed upon her because of her sex.
Sources of Knowledge
Throughout the book, many primary and secondary sources are both presented and cited. Maps
of the region at the time are provided, as well as significant landmarks and pieces of the Buschler
family history. The greatest use of these sources is in the letters of correspondence between Anna
and her two lovers, Erasmus of Limpurg and Daniel Treutwein. Whole excerpts of them are
provided with commentary and clarification, which lends a certain realness that is often lost in
historical recounting. It helps to illustrate the through processes and personalities of the
individuals involved, especially Anna.
Purpose of Writing
This piece of writing could be used for several purposes. It dispels a myth surround a tale that
has been long forgotten by time and helps paint a vivid picture of what life was like in 16th
century Germany. Although, the greatest purpose that this work can provide is a change agent.
This tale of bravery and tenacity by a woman in this time period is so rare and can be used a

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change agent for those who face adversity today. I believe that the Ozmet intended this book to
inspire women and those who remain oppressed to never give up in their struggle, even if it
means that they are fighting until their death.
Opinion
I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed an assigned history text as much I as enjoyed
reading The Burgermeisters Daughter. Annas story is so inspiring and presented with facets
that echo in todays modern culture. The author does a wonderful job of enlightening the reader
on not only the historical and political contexts surrounding the events, but also the social aspects
that are so often left out of recounting such as this. For example, before reading this text, I had
no clue as to what the courting and marital relations of the time looked like. They were afforded
a shocking amount of freedom, for the time period, and it is interesting to see how things have
progressed (or not progressed) since then. Overall, I would gladly keep this book on my shelf for
later perusal.

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References

Ozmet, S. (1996). The Burgermeister's Daughter. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press