Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Women in the Middle Ages
Women and Writing in Medieval Europe: a Sourcebook by
Publication Date: 2003
Carolyne Larrington has gathered together a uniquely comprehensive collection of writing by, for and about medieval women, spanning one thousand years and Europe from Iceland to Byzantiu. The extracts are arranged thematically, dealing with the central areas of medieval women's lives and their relation to social and cultural institutions. Each section is contextualised with a brief historical introduction, and the materials span literary, historical, theological and other narrative and imaginative writing. The writings here uncover and confound the stereotype of the medieval woman as lady or virgin by demonstrating the different roles and meanings that the sign of woman occupied in the imaginative space of the medieval period. Larrington's clear and accessible editorial material and the modern English translations of all the extracts mean this work is ideally suited for students. Women and Writing in Early Europe: A Sourcebook also contains an extensive and fully up-to-date bibliography.
Women's Lives in Medieval Europe by
Publication Date: 2010
Considered to be a definitive and truly groundbreaking collection of sources, Women's Lives in Medieval Europe uniquely presents the everyday lives and experiences of women in the Middle Ages. This indispensible text has now been thoroughly updated and expanded to reflect new research, and includes previously unavailable source material. This new edition includes expanded sections on marriage and sexuality, and on peasant women and townswomen, as well as a new section on women and the law. There are brief introductions both to the period and to the individual documents, study questions to accompany each reading, a glossary of terms and a fully updated bibliography. Working within a multi-cultural framework, the book focuses not just on the Christian majority, but also present material about women in minority groups in Europe, such as Jews, Muslims, and those considered to be heretics. Incorporating both the laws, regulations and religious texts that shaped the way women lived their lives, and personal narratives by and about medieval women, the book is unique in examining women's lives through the lens of daily activities, and in doing so as far as possible through the voices of women themselves.
Daughters of London by
Publication Date: 2011
In historical records, women appear as widows, sometimes as wives or singlewomen, but one thing they had in common was they all were daughters. Through an examination of the Husting wills, Kate Staples focuses on daughters in the late medieval capital and their chances to own, rent, and manage property. These daughters were provided opportunities to be active economic agents in a world often described as hostile to women. Daughters of London also considers parents influence through their bequests to daughters and the visualization of daughters household spaces that these bequests allow. By focusing on daughterhood, and particularly urban daughters experiences of inheritance, we can refocus the lens through which we see and understand women s lives in the medieval past
Women in Medieval Europe 1200-1500 by
Publication Date: 2016
Women in Medieval Europe explores the key areas of female experience in the later medieval period, from peasant women to Queens. It considers the women of the later Middle Ages in the context of their social relationships during a time of changing opportunities and activities, so that by 1500 the world of work was becoming increasingly restricted to women. The chapters are arranged thematically to show the varied roles and lives of women in and out of the home, covering topics such as marriage, religion, family and work. For the second edition a new chapter draws together recent work on Jewish and Muslim women, as well as those from other ethnic groups, showing the wide ranging experiences of women from different backgrounds. Particular attention is paid to women at work in the towns, and specifically urban topics such as trade, crafts, healthcare and prostitution.
Holy Feast and Holy Fast by
Publication Date: 1988
In the period between 1200 and 1500 in western Europe, a number of religious women gained widespread veneration and even canonization as saints for their extraordinary devotion to the Christian eucharist, supernatural multiplications of food and drink, and miracles of bodily manipulation, including stigmata and inedia (living without eating). The occurrence of such phenomena sheds much light on the nature of medieval society and medieval religion. It also forms a chapter in the history of women. Previous scholars have occasionally noted the various phenomena in isolation from each other and have sometimes applied modern medical or psychological theories to them. Using materials based on saints' lives and the religious and mystical writings of medieval women and men, Caroline Walker Bynum uncovers the pattern lying behind these aspects of women's religiosity and behind the fascination men and women felt for such miracles and devotional practices. She argues that food lies at the heart of much of women's piety. Women renounced ordinary food through fasting in order to prepare for receiving extraordinary food in the eucharist. They also offered themselves as food in miracles of feeding and bodily manipulation. Providing both functionalist and phenomenological explanations, Bynum explores the ways in which food practices enabled women to exert control within the family and to define their religious vocations. She also describes what women meant by seeing their own bodies and God's body as food and what men meant when they too associated women with food and flesh. The author's interpretation of women's piety offers a new view of the nature of medieval asceticism and, drawing upon both anthropology and feminist theory, she illuminates the distinctive features of women's use of symbols. Rejecting presentist interpretations of women as exploited or masochistic, she shows the power and creativity of women's writing and women's lives.
Women's Monasticism and Medieval Society by
Publication Date: 1997
In this engaging work, Bruce L. Venarde uncovers a largely unknown story of women's religious lives and puts female monasticism back in the mainstream of medieval ecclesiastical history. To chart the expansion of nunneries in France and England during the central Middle Ages, he presents statistics and narratives to describe growth in broad historical contexts, with special attention to social and economic change. Venarde explains that in the years 1000-1300 the number of nunneries within Europe grew tenfold. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, religious institutions for women developed in a variety of ways, mostly outside the self-conscious reform movements that have been the traditional focus of monastic history. Not reforming monks but wandering preachers, bishops, and the women and men of local petty aristocracies made possible the foundation of new nunneries. In times of increased agrarian wealth, decentralization of power, and a shortage of potential spouses, many women decided to become nuns and proved especially adept at combining spiritual search with practical acumen. This era of expansion came to an end in the thirteenth century when forces of regulation and new economic realities reduced radically the number of new nunneries.
The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen by
Publication Date: 1998
The first translation into English of the complete correspondence of the remarkable twelfth-century Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), this study consists of nearly four hundred letters, in four projected volumes. Addressed to some of the most notable people of the day, aswell as to some of humble status, the correspondence reveals the saint in ways her more famous works leave obscure: as determined reformer, as castigating seer, as theoretical musician, as patient adviser, as exorcist. Sometimes diffident and restrained, sometimes thunderously imperious, her lettersare indispensable to understanding fully this luminary of medieval philosophy, poetry, and music. In addition, they provide a fascinating glimpse at life in tumultuous twelfth-century Germany, beset with schism and political unrest. This first volume includes ninety letters to the highest rankingprelates in Hildegard's world--popes, archbishops, and bishops. Three following volumes will be divided according to the rank of the addressees.
Clare of Assisi and the Thirteenth-Century Church by
Publication Date: 2016
In a work based on a meticulous analysis of sources, many of them previously unexplored, Catherine M. Mooney upends the received account of Clare of Assisi's founding of the Order of San Damiano, or Poor Clares. Mooney offers instead a stark counternarrative: Clare, her sisters of San Damiano, and their allies struggled against a papal program bent on regimenting, enriching, and enclosing religious women in the thirteenth century, a program that proved largely successful. Mooney demonstrates that Clare (1194-1253) established a single community that was soon cajoled, perhaps even coerced, into joining an order previously founded by the papacy. Artfully renaming it after Clare's San Damiano with Clare as its putative mother, Pope Gregory IX enhanced his order's cachet by associating it also with Clare's famous friend, Francis of Assisi. Mooney traces how Clare and her allies in other houses attempted to follow Francis's directives rather than the pope's, divested themselves of property against the pope's orders, and organized in an attempt to change papal rule; and she shows how, after Francis's death, the women's relationships with the Franciscans themselves grew similarly fraught. Clare's pursuit of her vision proved relentless: at the time of her death, she newly identified her community as the Order of Poor Sisters and allied it unambiguously with Francis and his friars. Overturning another myth, Mooney reveals how only in the late nineteenth century did Clare come to be known as the sole author of a rule she had written collaboratively with others. Throughout, the story of Clare and her sisters emerges as a chapter in the long history of women who tried to define their religious identities within a Church more committed to unity and conformity than to diversity and difference.