Originally published in 1972, The Purchase of Paradise is an account of medieval philanthropy and looks at the late medieval aristocracy as a social, rather than political group. The book analyses their voluntary behaviour, their gift giving and the Church, and addresses the nature of charity in the Middle Ages, providing an insight into the noble families of the time. The book depicts charitable practices within the family, such as the buying of prayers for relatives, and the family traditions of support for favoured houses lasting through several generations. The book shows that the family was the most operative unit for most forms of benefaction and ecclesiastical contact, and that the hard necessities of baronial politics were often ignored when men turned their thoughts to philanthropy and prayers for their immortal souls. The book will of value to historians and sociologists alike, as well as those working in the field of anthropology.