Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Previous Articles of the Month

December 2015 [Posted October 2016]

a Sufi saint, grinding grain, 14th century
Rabia al-Basri (717-801 C.E.), a Sufi saint, grinding grain, 14th century, from a Persian dictionary (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Silzell, Sharon. "Ḥafṣa and al-Muṣḥaf: Women and the Written Qurʾān in the Early Centuries of Islam." Hawwa: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 13, 1 (2015): 25-50.

"This study examines the ways male medieval Muslim writers portrayed Ḥafṣa bt. ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (d. 45/665) and other seventh-century women and their roles as authorities and authenticators of the written word of God. By tracing Ḥafṣa's ownership of the first complete written copy of the Muslim scripture, I identify the late third/ninth and fourth/tenth centuries as a period of conflict over the chain of transmission of the first Qurʾān. I argue that late third/ninth and fourth/tenth-century accounts of the collection and codification of the Qurʾān illustrate a conscious rewriting of Ḥafṣa's role in those projects. I suggest that Ḥafṣa's literacy may have been deemed a threat to the authenticity of the Qurʾān collected by Abū Bakr, resulting in a scholarly attempt to sever her from the codification project." [Reproduced from the journal page on the Brill Online website.]

November 2015 [Posted August 2016]

Woman gathering sage, 14th century, Theatrum Sanitatis
Woman gathering sage, 14th century, Theatrum Sanitatis, Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense 4182, f. 68 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

La Guardiola-Griffiths, Cristina M. "Homegrown: From the Woman's Workplace to the Medieval Garden." La corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures 44, 1 (2015): 39-65.

"For years now, new ways of looking at women in medieval medicine have extended beyond a focus on their traditional, medical roles. A growing professional and regulated community of medical practitioners marginalized women from licensed practice. Yet, the scope of women's medical knowledge continued to expose medical anxieties over women's role in health and wellbeing. The purview of women in the medical care of others may be seen in the cookbooks, house-books, and health manuals that Michael Solomon has identified as part of a corpus of medical vernacular writing (Fictions 4). These works detail empirical practice that, in turn, witnesses the abundant use of ingredients provided either from home gardens or from the trade routes of the Mediterranean and beyond. These homegrown practices, I argue, disclose a continued female tradition of medical practice, as many of these ingredients were used in medical treatments and ointments. Women were able to maintain ties to the scientific and medical communities increasingly dominated by a professional, masculine elite.” [Reproduced from the journal page on the Project Muse website.]

October 2015 [Posted July 2016]

Empress Ariadne or Amalasuntha
Empress Ariadne or Amalasuntha, ivory, 6th century, Museum of Bargello, Florence (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain image)

La Rocca, Cristina. "Foreign Dangers: Activities, Responsibilities and the Problem of Women Abroad. "Early Medieval Europe 23, 4 (2015): 410-435.

"This paper deals with the construction of the foreign woman as a category that could explain, in the sixth century, the agency or the dangers of wives in different narrative contexts. The diffusion of foreign women in the sixth and seventh centuries as brides of kings and aristocrats is compared to contemporary archaeological funerary evidence. The very important role of Theoderic as wife-giver king and the context of his power - Italy - developed the concept of a new foreign subject, identifiable in particular among peregrini both from and within Italy. This development heightened the possibility of creating networks and exporting foreign models." [Reproduced from the journal page on the Wiley Online Library website.]

September 2015

Cantigas de Santa Maria
Burial of the Dead, Central France (probably diocese of Clermont) last quarter of the 15th century, Book of Hours, Use of Clermont, Burney 332, fol. 69 (Source: British Library, Public Domain image)

Shapland, Fiona, Mary Lewis and Rebecca Watts. "The Lives and Deaths of Young Medieval Women: The Osteological Evidence." Medieval Archaeology 59 (2015): 272-289.

"Written sources from the medieval period focus mainly on the activities of adults, particularly males and often those from the wealthier sections of society. Recent scholarship has attempted to redress this balance by giving attention to medieval women and children, but we are still limited by what we can learn about the daily lives of all members of medieval English society. Osteology, the study of human skeletal remains, suffers from no such bias and can provide substantial and detailed information on growth, health and daily life of the general population. This paper presents the results of a new analysis of the skeletal remains of over 300 medieval girls and young women aged at between 14 and 25 years from a number of English cemetery sites. We incorporate data from the published archaeological literature as well as documentary evidence to provide new insights into the lives and deaths of young medieval women." [Reproduced from the journal page on the Taylor & Francis Online website.]

May 2015

Cantigas de Santa Maria
A mother passes her child to the father's waiting arms, Cantigas de Santa Maria, 139, 13th century (Madrid, Escorial Museum, MS B.i.2) (Source: New York Public Library, image available for non-commercial reuse)

Laumonier, Lucie. "Meanings of Fatherhood in Late-Medieval Montpellier: Love, Care and the Exercise of Patria potestas." Gender & History 27, 3 (2015): 651-668.

"Fatherhood and masculinity were intersected identities during the Middle Ages, as they continue to be today. Fatherhood has a long history as a dynamic research field in medieval studies, and benefits greatly from being analysed within the framework of gender studies. Such a framework enhances our understanding of the paternal identity by stressing the way in which it was culturally constructed. The history of fathers in medieval southern France has not received that much attention from gender historians. The archives of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Montpellier, a great city in Mediterranean Languedoc, offer a particularly rich opportunity to further explore fatherhood with an eye towards gender. Focusing on legal history, the history of the emotions and economic history, this article seeks to investigate the linkages between masculine and paternal identities. We will see that fatherhood was legally defined in terms of masculine moral traits, including patria potestas (control over the household).

Fatherhood carried a duty of affection and care, as well as a masculine responsibility of provision and transmission to the children. This did not involve merely material wealth, but good reputation – in short setting the child up well for adulthood." [Reproduced from the journal page on the Wiley Online website.]

April 2015

Image of Christ's wound from a birth girdle used during women's labor
Image of Christ's wound from a "birth girdle" used during women's labor
Wellcome Library, MS 632, late 15th c.

Jones, Peter Murray and Lea T. Olsan. "Performative Rituals for Conception and Childbirth in England, 900–1500." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 89, 3 (2015): 406-433. Article made open access by the journal publisher.

Abstract: This study proposes that performative rituals—that is, verbal and physical acts that reiterate prior uses—enabled medieval women and men to negotiate the dangers and difficulties of conception and childbirth. It analyzes the rituals implicated in charms, prayers, amulets, and prayer rolls and traces the circulation of such rituals within medieval English society. Manuscript records from the Anglo-Saxon period to the late Middle Ages offer evidence of the interaction of oral and written means of communicating these rituals.

Certain rituals were long-lived, though variants were introduced over time that reflected changing religious attitudes and the involvement of various interested parties, including local healers, doctors, and medical practitioners, as well as monks, friars, and users of vernacular remedy books. Although many of those who recommended or provided assistance through performative rituals were males, the practices often devolved upon women themselves, and their female companions or attendants. [Reproduced from the journal page on the Project Muse website: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/bulletin_of_the_history_of_medicine/.

March 2015

Simone Martini, Clare of Assisi
Simone Martini, Clare of Assisi (1312-20) Lower Basilica of San Francesco, Assisi
(Wikimedia Commons)

Monagle, Clare. "Poor Maternity: Clare of Assisi's Letters to Agnes of Prague." Women's History Review 24, 4 (2015): 490-501.

Abstract: During the first half of the thirteenth century, Clare of Assisi and Agnes of Prague sustained a long epistolary relationship. Clare's part of the correspondence is extant, and reveals much about the intersection of the language of gendered piety and political ambition in this period. This article seeks, in particular, to place Clare's use of maternal imagery within the context of her attempts to build patronage networks in order to support her ambitions to secure the "Privilege of Poverty" for herself and her sisters, the right to live without landed endowments and claustration. [Reproduced from the journal page on the Taylor & Francis website: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rwhr20#.VqVsUPkrK00

February 2015

Reinhildis Has Died: Ascension and Enlivenment on a Twelfth-Century Tomb. August Bahlmann: St. Rendel. Münster in Westfalen. Druck von Friedr. Regensberg, 1858

Fozi, Shirin. "'Reinhildis Has Died': Ascension and Enlivenment on a Twelfth-Century Tomb." Speculum 90, 1 (2015): 158-194.

Abstract: From the time of their first appearance at the end of the eleventh century, medieval funerary effigies have presented their viewers with a strikingly uniform set of compositional conventions. The sculptural representation of the frontal body carved in relief on a rectangular slab is found so consistently among effigies of the twelfth through fifteenth centuries that this formula has become very nearly synonymous with the term "effigy" itself. The standard compositional type had already appeared in the bronze effigy of Rudolf of Swabia in Merseburg Cathedral (c.1080–1084), the earliest surviving effigy known to medieval art, and would be repeated for the tombs of the Nellenburg dukes of Schaffhausen (c.1105–1110), the Ottonian abbesses of Quedlinburg (c.1129), and the Merovingian kings from Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris (c.1150, now installed at Saint-Denis), to name just a few prominent examples. Each of these sculptures shows its subject dressed in different costume and holding different attributes as distinct signs of individual identity, but the representation of the frontal body remains a common, standardized feature of the group. Within this context, the twelfth-century effigy of Reinhildis of Riesenbeck—twisting, turning, raising her hands in prayer, and gazing upward wide-eyed to witness the departure of her soul—stands out as an extraordinary exception to the general rule. No less startling than the visual enlivenment of the body is the dramatic textual content of its framing inscription, composed in rough Leonine hexameters. [Reproduced from the journal page on the Cambridge Journals website: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=SPC

December 2014

Simonetta Vespucci as a Mythological Nymph
Sandro Botticelli, Simonetta Vespucci as a Mythological Nymph, ca. 1480 Frankfurt, Städel Museum, nv. Nr. 936 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Allan, Judith. "Lorenzo’s Star and Savonarola's Serpent: Changing Representations of Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci." Italian Studies 69, 1 (2014): 4-23.

Abstract: Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci (1453–76) is chiefly remembered today as the muse of Botticelli and the 'most beautiful woman' of the Renaissance. This article argues that her real significance lies not in the unproven legends that connect her to the artist but in the numerous appearances that she makes in the poetry of late-fifteenth century Florence. Simonetta was not the embodiment of a timeless ideal of beauty and virtue, as scholars have often assumed. Rather, these works demonstrate that the way in which Simonetta was depicted and understood changed dramatically over the course of the Quattrocento, mirroring cultural and political developments in the city. She begins her literary life as a tool in Lorenzo de' Medici's 'public relations machine', used by the de facto ruler and the poets associated with him to (re)fashion his image as circumstances dictated. She ends it as a representation of vice and corruption in Savonarolan Florence. [Reproduced from the journal page on the Maney Online website: http://www.maneyonline.com/loi/its.]

October 2014

Mary of Egypt, covered in hair, receives a cloak from the monk Zosimus
Mary of Egypt, covered in hair, receives a cloak from the monk Zosimus (c. 1440-1450). France London, British Library, Yates Thompson Ms 3, f. 287r. The Dunois Hours (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Francomano, Emily C. "Taking the Gold Out of Egypt": Prostitution and the Economy of Salvation in the Vida de María Egipciaca. Hispanic Review 82, 4 (2014): 397-420

Abstract: This article explores how the thirteenth-century verse Vida de María Egipciaca portrays the sins, conversion, and spectacular penance of Mary of Egypt in terms of her rejection of and eventual entrance into orthodox economies. As I argue, hagiographic legends about prostitutes have economic subtexts and the Vida offers paradoxical visions of prostitution both as a foil and as an analogue for the financial metaphors that undergird the very economy of salvation. In the Vida prostitution, as practiced by the repentant María, not only represents sexual depravity, but also a move from economic indifference and the unregulated distribution of sexual activities to a consciousness of just prices and exchange values. The poem thus offers a striking medieval articulation of Christian salvation economy, relating the salvation economy to notions of women’s value as objects of exchange. In so doing, the Vida also interlaces the context of thirteenth-century Mediterranean economic culture with its poetics. [Reproduced from the journal page on the Project Muse website: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/hispanic_review/.]

Spetember 2014

Geoffrey Luttrell, lord of Irnham Manor, is armed by his wife and his daughter-in-law
Geoffrey Luttrell, lord of Irnham Manor, is armed by his wife and his daughter-in-law (c.1325-1335). London, British Library, Add. MS 42130, fol. 202v.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

McVitty, E. Amanda. "False Knights and True Men: Contesting Chivalric Masculinity in English Treason Trials, 1388–1415." Journal of Medieval History 40, 4 (2014): 458-477.

Abstract: The treatment of high-status traitors in later medieval England intrigues historians, who have sought explanations for increasingly brutal penalties and analysed degrading punishments that undid the traitor's knighthood. Recent scholarship incorporates gender into this analysis, suggesting rituals of degradation feminised the traitor and thereby preserved the coherence and integrity of elite masculine identity. This article uses the framework of homosociality to expand the analysis of gender in politically motivated cases of treason where traitors were characterised as "false" knights. In these cases, treason was conceived of as the corruption of knightly manhood because the potential for treason was intrinsic to chivalric values of love and loyalty through which knightly masculinity was performed. The knight and the traitor were mutually constitutive rather than oppositional gendered identities, which meant the traitor's punishment could destabilise rather than reinforce elite masculinity as embodied in the knight. [Reproduced from the journal's page on the Taykor and Francis website: tandfonline.com/

May 2014

The Annunciation. From the Saint Albans Psalter
The Annunciation. From the Saint Albans Psalter (c.1140–46). Hildesheim, Dombibliothek, MS Sankt Godehard 1, fol. 19.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Miles, Laura Saetveit. "The Origins and Development of the Virgin Mary's Book at the Annunciation." Speculum 89, 3 (2014): 632-669.

Abstract: After the Crucifixion, the Annunciation may be the most frequently portrayed scene in premodern art of the West. In nearly every representation the Virgin Mary is shown with a book as she greets the angel Gabriel. No matter where the artist has situated her—on a blank background, on a throne, in a bedroom, in a living room, in a chapel, in a church, on a portico—Mary's book is nearby. It rests in her lap or on a lectern, held open by her hand or closed with the page marked by a finger; it is a solitary volume, or drawn from an impressive library in the background. The detail of the book, like so many iconographical elements we now take for granted in biblical scenes, certainly did not come from the sole Gospel account of the Annunciation, Luke 1.26–38. Luke's stark description narrates the conversation between girl and angel when she is revealed as the Mother of God. Where, then, did the motif of Mary's book originate? What is she reading? How did the "Reading Annunciate" develop over time? What did Mary's reading mean for people in the Middle Ages? [Reproduced from the journal's page on the Cambridge University Press website: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=SPC]

April 2014

Vulcan finds his wife Venus with Mars.
Vulcan finds his wife Venus with Mars. From the Roman de la rose. (France, circa 1380)
Source: British Library, Egerton 881, fol. 141v

McDougall, Sara. "The Opposite of the Double Standard: Gender, Marriage, and Adultery Prosecution in Late Medieval France." Journal of the History of Sexuality 23, 2 (2014): 206-225.

Content Excerpt: Drawing primarily on court records from northern France, I offer further evidence that late medieval courts targeted adulterous men rather than women, and I will set out to explain why. The answers are to be sought not just in expressions of civic culture or in a new commitment to reconciliation but in the role of a particular set of Christian teachings disseminated in late medieval northern French culture and applied by local court officials.

Much though we may imagine that medieval law was motivated by factors like "fear and distrust of feminine independence," in late medieval northern France the underlying gender tensions were filtered through a vision of justice and morality as preached by Christian theologians and enshrined in canon law. The teachings of Jean Gerson on sacramental marriage and the role of husbands in marriage, for example, may well have inspired court officials to punish adulterous husbands. These courts prosecuted men because their understanding of masculinity and masculine roles in Christian society cast men as the active, responsible parties in sex and in marriage and therefore as appropriate targets for judicial punishment. When prosecuting illicit sex, these courts, most clearly the church court in the northeastern French diocese of Troyes, treated laymen like clergy. Just as a priest had responsibility for his parishioners' salvation as well as his own salvation and had to live as a celibate, so too did a husband have responsibility for his wife and himself. Whether a husband committed adultery or his wife did, the blame lay with the husband. [Reproduced from the journal's page on the Project Muse website: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_the_history_of_sexuality/ ]

March 2014

Dance of death scene with a mother and child.  Metnitz, Austria, 15th century.
Dance of death scene with a mother and child. Metnitz, Austria, 15th century. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bardsley, Sandy. "Missing Women: Sex Ratios in England, 1000-1500."
Journal of British Studies 53, 2 (2014): 273-309.

Abstract: This article proposes that late medieval English men may have outnumbered women by a significant margin, perhaps as high as 110 to 115 men for every 100 women. Data from both documentary and archaeological sources suggest that fewer females survived to adulthood and that those who did may have died younger than their husbands and brothers. Historians of medieval England have said little about the possibility of a skewed sex ratio, yet if women were indeed "missing" from the population as a whole in a significant and sustained way, we must reinterpret much of the social, economic, gender, and cultural history of late medieval England. [Reproduced from the journal's page on the Cambridge University Press website: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=JBR ]

February 2014

Saint Agnes heals the emperor's daughter who sleeps on her tomb
Saint Agnes heals the emperor’s daughter who sleeps on her tomb. Royal cup, France, 1370-80. London, British Museum. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Ritchey, Sara. "Affective Medicine: Later Medieval Healing Communities and the Feminization of Health Care Practices in the Thirteenth-Century Low Countries,"
Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures 40, 2 (2014): 113-143.

Abstract: This essay uses saints' lives and miracle stories to demonstrate the various ways that religiously affiliated women managed for a socially marginalized population the daily experience of health and illness. In this essay I explore how people came to believe in a saint’s ability to heal, how they adapted their feelings and intentions to affective models provided by her vita and miracles, and how they recounted their experiences of this adaptation in stories of bodily healing. I argue that, by examining the healing community that sick petitioners formed around female saints, we might come to recognize whole new categories of health on which medieval medical resources were premised. Furthermore, as scholars of religion, we may better understand the affective and devotional mechanisms through which the sick and indigent came to experience relief. [Reproduced from the journal's page on the Project Muse website.

December 2013

Antonio Pisanello
Antonio Pisanello. Luxuria, ca. 1426. Vienna, Albertina Museum.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
See the Feminae record on this drawing for more details.

Burke, Jill. "Nakedness and Other Peoples: Rethinking the Italian Renaissance Nude," Art History 36, 4 (2013): 714-739.

Abstract: This essay proposes that we question the current understanding of the Italian Renaissance nude by examining contemporaries' perceptions of nakedness. Despite the importance of the nude for the development of Western art, there have been few studies that consider how the revival of the nude form in fifteenth-century Italy was understood by people at the time. Most scholars, understandably, see the new fashion for portraying naked figures in the fifteenth century as a direct reflection of the enthusiasm for classical antiquity during this era. Without denying the crucial importance of antique precedents, I wish here to investigate another possibility: that travellers' accounts of naked natives encountered on European voyages of exploration, particularly those to sub-Saharan Africa, influenced the creation of what has been called a 'Renaissance anthropology' – debates about the nature of mankind. This provided a new conceptual filter through which the nude figure was seen – and in some cases, these accounts may have directly affected the iconography of otherwise puzzling images.

November 2013

The Breedon Virgin
Filippo Lippi. Feast of Herod, ca. 1465. Prato, Santo Stefano.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Long, Jane C.  "Dangerous Women: Observations on the Feast of Herod in Florentine Art of the Early Renaissance,” Renaissance Quarterly 66, 4 (2013): 1153-1205.

Abstract: This article investigates four widely studied versions of the biblical story of the Feast of Herod produced by Florentine artists in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: Giotto’s fresco from the Peruzzi Chapel at Santa Croce (ca. 1320), Andrea Pisano’s panels on the south doors of Florence’s baptistery (ca. 1335), Donatello’s relief for the baptismal font at Siena (ca. 1425), and Filippo Lippi’s fresco in the main chapel at the cathedral of Prato (ca. 1465). The study explores how the narrative is interpreted by each artist and suggests social messages that contemporary audiences might have drawn from each interpretation by examining the actions of the figures in light of the teachings of late medieval and early Renaissance didactic literature. Conduct literature allows one to interpret what the works reveal about the story, but also suggests that they could function didactically, in and of themselves. In such a reading, Herodias and Salome are treacherous women: dangerous not only to John the Baptist, but also to Florentine society of the period.  [Reproduced from the journal page on the JSTOR website.]

September 2013

The Breedon Virgin
The Breedon Virgin, an eighth century carved stone frieze now in a church in Leicestershire.
The woman holds a book in her veiled left hand, while gesturing in blessing with her right hand.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Watt, Diane. "The Earliest Women's Writing? Anglo-Saxon Literary Cultures and Communities," Women's Writing 20, 4 (2013): 537-554.

Abstract: Who were the first women writers in the English literary tradition? This question continues to preoccupy feminist scholars in the twenty-first century, but very few would look back to the centuries before the Norman invasions in order to find the answer. Focusing on the religious houses of Ely and Whitby in the seventh and early eighth centuries this article reviews some of the surviving evidence of the first monastic women's writing. Looking for traces of early texts by women, it re-examines the lives of the Abbesses Æthelthryth of Ely and Hild of Whitby found in the fourth book of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, alongside the account of Hild found in the Old English Martyrology, and, more speculatively, it reconsiders the case for women’s involvement in the production of the anonymous first Life of Gregory the Great. This article argues that texts by women were 'overwritten' by the earliest male monastic writers, a process reinforced by later scholarship. By focusing on texts associated with religious houses ruled by women, and by seeing them as the productions not of individuals but of communities, it is possible to get a fuller and more balanced understanding of women’s writing in this earliest period of English literary history.

September 2013

Tomb effigy of Clémence of Hungary
Tomb effigy of Clémence of Hungary (c. 1328),
widow of Louis X, King of France.
Originally located at the Church of the Jacobins in Paris,
now in the Basilica of St.-Denis
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Proctor-Tiffany, Mariah. "Lost and Found: Visualizing a Medieval Queen’s Destroyed Objects.” Queenship in the Mediterranean: Negotiating the Role of the Queen in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras. Edited by Elena Woodacre. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Pages 73 -96.

May 2013

Van Houts, Elisabth. Changes of Aristocratic Identity: Remarriage and Remembrance in Europe 900-1200
Marie de Berry, widow of Louis de Châtillon, marries Philippe d’Artois
from Froissart’s Chroniques (ca. 1470 and 1472)
Source: British Library, Harley 4380, f. 6

Van Houts, Elisabth.  "Changes of Aristocratic Identity: Remarriage and Remembrance in Europe 900-1200.”  Memory and Commemoration in Medieval Culture.   Edited by Elma Brenner, Meredith Cohen, and Mary Franklin-Brown.  Ashgate, 2013.  Pages 221 - 241.

April 2013

Andrea Mantegna, Madonna della Vittoria (1495-1496)
Andrea Mantegna, Madonna della Vittoria (1495-1496)
Louvre Museum, Paris
Source: Wikimedia Commons

McCall, Timothy. "Brilliant Bodies: Material Culture and the Adornment of Men in North Italy’s Quattrocento Courts.” I Tatti Studies 16, 1-2 (2013): 445-490.

Abstract:The article discusses the decoration of men and material culture in the fifteenth century courts of the nobility in Northern Italy. Topics discussed include the emphasis on qualities of light and the incorporation of light into men's hair, attire and decoration during this time. Artworks and writing from this time depict these trends in fashion, and the use of vocabulary related to light in descriptions of men of the noble classes.

March 2013

Hans Baldung Grien, Death and the Maiden (1517)
Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bennett, Judith M. "Death and the Maiden.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 42, 2 (Spring 2012): 269-305.

Abstract:The partnership of death and maidenhood—found in many cultures, present as well as past, east as well as west—is examined here in the particular context of late medieval England, when mortality was exceptionally high and maidens unusually numerous. Drawing on a wide range of materials (including saints’ lives, poetry, monumental brasses, and wills), the essay shows how the English imagined maidens who were untamed by manly authority, endowed with a menacing sexuality, and superhumanly powerful in relation to death. It concludes by considering the global reach of this curious coupling and the ways in which its specific meanings at the end of the Middle Ages might have contributed to the fears that drove witch-hunting in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
[Abstract reproduced from the journal page on the Duke University Press website ]

February 2013

Deane, Jennifer Kolpacoff. Pious Domesticities.
Book of Hours of Mary of Burgundy
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Deane, Jennifer Kolpacoff.  "Pious Domesticities.”  Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe.  Edited by Judith M. Bennett and Ruth Mazo Karras.  Oxford University Press, 2013.  Pages 262-278.  ISBN: 0199582173

Abstract: Among the few unbroken historical threads traceable across the European Middle Ages is the centrality of home to medieval imaginations. Culturally speaking, home was safe haven. Scripture itself was laced with the language of kinship and domestic belonging, and medieval people wove home and holiness into a remarkable array of new patterns. This essay thus focuses on how medieval women and men enacted piety in their houses, both imaginatively and physically; how they understood those actions; and the ways in which gender inflected their beliefs and behaviors. It explores practices that have been treated largely in historiographical isolation from each other, including private devotions and sanctified labor; the repurposing of existing structures for pious communities; material enhancements to domestic spirituality; and meditative transcendence of household spaces. In a dazzling constellation of alternatives to the stark choice of either “Mary or Martha,” pious domesticities offered medieval people deeply gendered ways to fuse the active and contemplative, and in so doing, to make Christ at home. [Abstract supplied by the author]

Table of Contents  for the Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe (from Barnes and Noble)

January 2013

Herr Konrad von Altstetten, Codex Manesse
Herr Konrad von Altstetten, Codex Manesse
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Schultz, James A. "Why Do Tristan and Isolde Make Love? The Love Potion as a Milestone in the History of Sexuality.” Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde. Edited by Jutta Eming, Ann Marie Rasmussen, and Kathryn Starkey. University of Notre Dame Press, 2012. Pages 65-82.

Historians of sexuality must ask what it was, in any given time or place, that was thought to impel people to seek sexual relations. The Tristan romances of Eilhart and Gottfried, for all their obsession with love, refuse to provide answers to this question. Their refusal to do so signals a determination on the part of an emerging secular courtly culture to set off a domain in which writers could explore love and the desire to make love free from the taint of sinfulness that Christian theology had established as the first cause of the desire to make love. [Abstract supplied by the author]

December 2012

Women’s oval brooches from a grave in Björkö, Sweden
Women’s oval brooches from a grave in Björkö, Sweden
Swedish History Museum, Stockholm

Wicker, Nancy L.  "Christianization, Female Infanticide, and the Abundance of Female Burials at Viking Age Birka in Sweden.”  Journal of the History of Sexuality 21, 2 (2012): 245-262.

Abstract: The article discusses the abundance of female graves in the 9th and 10th century settlement of Birka, Sweden, compared with their dearth in other areas of Scandinavia, as a result of the influence of the Christian mission in Birka. The interdiction of infanticide that accompanied the conversion to Christianity is an important factor. An overview of the social status of women during the Christianization of Scandinavia, including inheritance, property rights and women's gender equality in marriage and in sexual relations, is also an important consideration.

November 2012

Source: Wikimedia Commons
British Library Additional 37049, f.32v Lady in a Tomb

Matlock, Wendy A.  "The Feminine Flesh in the Disputacione betwyx the Body and Wormes.”  The Ends of the Body: Identity and Community in Medieval Culture.  Edited by Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Jill Ross.  University of Toronto Press, 2013.  Pages 260-282.

Contested dichotomies pervade medieval discussions of the relationship between the body and the soul. In particular, debate poems featuring recently deceased bodies that dispute with their souls depend upon the division of the disputants in order to teach how both together determine an individual’s fate. One such poem, the fifteenth-century A Disputacione betwyx the Body and Wormes, demands attention because it features, uniquely among Middle English and perhaps all debate poems, a female corpse. Thus, the poem provides insight into the relationship between femininity and carnality that is frequently asserted in medieval texts. I argue that in its dramatization of discord between a female body and the male worms that consume it, A Disputacione betwyx the Body and Wormes both relies upon misogynistic equations of woman with corruption and dissolves those simplistic binaries. It can be helpful to divide complex ideas into discrete categories—male and female, body and soul, living and dead—but ultimately the poem demonstrates that these divisions are more fluid and less concrete than they initially appear. [Abstract supplied by the author]

October 2012

Rieder, Paula M. "The Uses and Misuses of Misogyny: A Critical Historiography of the Language of Medieval Women’s Oppression.” Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques 38, 1 (2012): 1-18.

This article examines the development of language used to describe the oppression of medieval women—particularly the terms patriarchy and misogyny—and its connection with the women’s movement of the late twentieth century. It argues that the broad application of the word misogyny by medieval historians to describe a wide spectrum of anti-feminine attitudes and the tendency to understand misogyny and patriarchy as coterminous are inaccurate and problematic. The article supports this position first with an analysis of medieval clerical texts that use the common medieval linkage of women with sex and pollution. The analysis suggests that the usage of this negative linkage is not always misogynistic. The article then analyzes three medieval sermon collections intended for preaching to lay audiences and suggests that the sermons, though androcentric or paternalistic and so in some sense patriarchal, are not misogynistic. [Reproduced from the journal website]

September 2012

Thomas, Hugh M. "Shame, Masculinity, and the Death of Thomas Becket." Speculum 87, 4 (2012): 1050-1088.

On the day before Christmas, 1170, Robert de Broc, member of a family of royal servants that had taken up King Henry II's fierce opposition to Thomas Becket, seized a horse bringing goods to the archbishop and cut off its tail. The next day, Archbishop Thomas noted this incident after his Christmas sermon when renewing his excommunication of Robert and several others, and he discussed it again four days later in his initial meeting with the men who would shortly murder him. The excision of the horse's tail appears in five of the biographies of the martyr and subsequently in the national chronicles of Roger of Howden and Ralph of Diceto. Why did a minor act of cruelty inflicted on a horse seem so noteworthy to contemporaries? The sources recording it resound with the rich Latin vocabulary of shame: “dedecus, contemptus, ignominia, dehonestatio, opprobrium.” Robert's highly symbolic act, part of a pattern of harassment by the Brocs, was designed not just to threaten Becket but also to humiliate him. [Reproduced from the journal website]

May 2012

McLaughlin, Megan. "’Disgusting acts of shamelessness’: Sexual Misconduct and the Deconstruction of Royal Authority in the Eleventh Century.” Early Medieval Europe 19, 3 (2011): 312-331.

That the sexual misconduct of a king had political ramifications is clear from a large number of texts from throughout the entire Middle Ages. At no point, however, was royal sexuality more salient in political writing than in the second half of the eleventh century. This was not simply a reflection of contemporary efforts to reform sexual morality. Neither can charges of sexual immorality be dismissed as mere rhetorical devices, intended to blacken a king’s character (although they certainly did that). On the contrary, sex was doing important ideological work in political texts from this period. This article focuses on the particularly savage set of sexual accusations made against King (after 1084, Emperor) Henry IV of Germany (1056–1106). It argues that the long-standing association between sexual desire and privacy, shame and disorder worked powerfully in the eleventh century to justify rebellion, and to separate the king, as libidinous individual, from the ‘majesty’ of the office he held. [Reproduced from the journal website]

April  2012

Carroll, Jane. "Subversive Obedience. Images of Spiritual Reform by and for Fifteenth-Century Nuns.” Reassessing the Roles of Women as ‘Makers’ of Medieval Art and Architecture. Edited by Therese Martin. Brill, 2012. Volume 2, pages 705-737.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Initials from the Schwesternbuch, the manuscript discussed by Jane Carroll. It was composed by Elsbeth Stagel at the Swiss monastery of Töss around 1340. This copy was made over a hundred years later in Nuremberg at the women’s monastery of St. Katharine’s.

April  2012

Tanner, Heather.  "Lords, Wives, and Vassals in the Roman de Silence.”   Journal of Women’s History 24, 1 (Spring 2012): 138-159.

In the contrasting lives and fates of the rulers, husbands, vassals, and wives, and through the use of ambiguity and the manipulation of gender stereotypes in the Roman de Silence, Heldris de Cornüalle offers a model of political and personal lordship which is founded upon consultation, consent, and self-restraint. When superiors, be they lords or husbands, provide an environment for the sharing of wisdom, both home and court nurture loyalty, good service, true liberality, and peace in vassals and wives. While Heldris's portrayal of the characteristics of good lordship is in many senses conventional, his hero(ine) and the parallels he draws between lordship and marriage affirm a very unconventional notion that women should play an active role in both governance and marriage. [Reproduced from the journal’s website]

February 2012

Adams, Tracy.  "Faus Semblant and the Psychology of Clerical Masculinity.”   Exemplaria 23, 2 (Summer 2011): 171-193.

Boasting that he hides his greed beneath his pious Franciscan habiz, Faus Semblant of Jean de Meun's Roman de la Rose is an unappealing character. Yet his emphasis upon his habiz makes him an interesting figure for the study of the emotions. The trope of hiding unsavory impulses beneath habiz suggests that social scripts can be resisted and replaced with new ones. Jean's Rose, this essay proposes, traces the psyche of an apprentice cleric as he undertakes an emotional regime meant to free him from the lures of love. Confessing his tendency to change his habiz, Faus Semblant marks a crucial step towards the self-awareness that the text posits as necessary to sexual self-mastery. [Reproduced from the journal’s website]

January 2012

Burger, Glenn.  "In the Merchant’s Bedchamber.”   Thresholds of Medieval Visual Culture: Liminal Spaces.   Edited by Elina Gertsman and Jill Stevenson.  Boydell Press, 2012.  Pages 239-259.

By the fifteenth century, the private bedchamber had become an increasingly common and elaborated feature of bourgeois households, as this newly emergent group sought to manifest its higher social status by appropriating aristocratic household arrangements. Late medieval bourgeois houses not only incorporate the public and semi-public spaces such as the hall, parlor, and garden that had traditionally identified the noble household, but they also seek to display by means of a separate bedchamber the possession of a quasi-aristocratic access to personal privacy on the part of their owners. The paper considers first the representational “undecideability” of the private bedchamber in this period and why it might offer an at once privileged and anxious location for self-identification on the part of bourgeois subjects. I then focus on two narratives that are framed by encounters between a bourgeois husband and wife within the privacy of their bedchambers: Jacques Bruyant’s 1342 Le Chemin de povreté et de richesse (or The Way and Direction of Poverty and Riches) and the anonymous c. 1394 Le Menagier de Paris (or The Parisian Household Book). I argue that both texts represent the bourgeois private bedchamber as practiced space in order to understand how such fluidity might be particularly useful in representing the changing relationship of the lay married estate and bourgeois labor to the social.  [Abstract supplied by the author]

December 2011

Clanchy, Michael.  "Did Mothers Teach their Children to Read?”   Motherhood, Religion, and Society in Medieval Europe, 400-1400: Essays Presented to Henrietta Leyser.   Edited by Conrad Leyser and Lesley Smith.  Ashgate, 2011.  Pages 129-153.

Clanchy, Michael. Did Mothers Teach their Children to Read? Motherhood, Religion, and Society in Medieval Europe, 400-1400: Essays Presented to Henrietta Leyser.
DESTORRENTS Ramón | Saint Anne & the Virgin. Detail.
| Mid 14 c | Spanish | Gothic | Catalonia. Spain.
| ©Kathleen Cohen | Reproduced from WorldImages, California State University

November 2011

Cossar, Rosin. "Clerical ‘Concubines’ in Northern Italy during the Fourteenth Century.” Journal of Women’s History 23, 1 (Spring 2011): 110-131.

This essay reconstructs the lives of a neglected group of women in the Christian church during the later Middle Ages. So-called clerical “concubines” were well-known in their communities, but their lived experience has been largely ignored by modern historians. Yet studying clerical concubines sheds light not only on the women themselves, but also on the social organization of the medieval Christian church. Drawing on information gathered from notarial acts across the northern Italian peninsula, I argue that concubines were not a unitary group. Their experiences varied instead according to their status and the regions they inhabited. For instance, while laywomen who became priests’ concubines moved into their lovers’ homes, nuns retained cells in their religious houses during these relationships. Furthermore, concubines in cities such as Treviso could openly live with their lovers and share their property, while in other places, such as Bergamo, severe legal restrictions on concubines made them a particularly vulnerable group.
[Reproduced from the journal's website on Project Muse]

October 2011

Mews, Constant J.  "The Speculum dominarum (Miroir des dames) and Transformation of the Literature of Instruction for Women in the Early Fourteenth Century." Virtue Ethics for Women 1250-1500.  Edited by Karen Green and Constant J. Mews.  Springer, 2011.  Pages 13-30.

Description: File:Joan I of Navarre.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Durand de Champagne presents his manuscript of the Speculum dominarum
to Jeanne de Navarre, wife of Philip IV and queen of France 1285-1305.
British Library, Royal 19 B XVI f. 2, 1428.

April 2011

Curry, Anne. "The Theory and Practice of Female Immunity in the Medieval West." Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones: From the Ancient World to the Era of Human Rights. Edited by Elizabeth D. Heineman. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. Pages 173-188.

Under certain circumstances Christian writers in the Middle Ages (taken here to cover the whole period from the fifth to fifteenth centuries) justified war but argued that violence against non-combatants should be avoided. Women had a special vulnerability: not only could they be killed, wounded, or captured, but they could also be raped. This article reviews the theory and practice of sexual violence as a weapon of war. It draws on a wide range of theological and legal texts, including penitentials, canon law, and disciplinary ordinances for armies, suggesting that as the period progressed the state played an increasing role in attempting to protect women and punish soldiers. It traces the influence of Roman and Biblical traditions on medieval practice, and considers various military scenarios, including the Crusades and the Hundred Years War. [Abstract supplied by the author]

March  2011

Paden, William D. and Frances Freeman Paden.  "Swollen Woman, Shifting Canon: A Midwife Charm and the Birth of Secular Romance." PMLA 125, 2 (March 2010): 306-321

In “Tomida femina” (“A swollen woman”), a tenth-century charm written in Occitan, the vernacular of the south of France, a birthing woman and her helpers intone magical language during the most intense moments of childbirth. The poem permits us, with brief but uncommon intimacy, to imagine the lives of women long ago. It takes its place in a European tradition of birthing charms, including others written in Latin, German, and English. These charms, and in particular “Tomida femina,” provide an image of vigorous medieval women in childbirth that precedes the images of women in other secular Romance lyrics—young girls in love in the Mozarabic kharjas, idealized ladies in troubadour songs, and passionate aristocratic women in the poetry of the Occitan trobairitz. (WDP and FFP) [Reprinted by permission of the authors.]

February 2011

McDonald, Nicola. "A York Primer and Its Alphabet: Reading Women in a Lay Household." The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English.   Edited by Elaine Treharne and Greg Walker.  Oxford University Press, 2010.  Pages 181-199

Book description from Oxford University Press

Related Resources

Blackburn Window in All Saints Church, North Street, York, with a detail of St. Anne teaching the Virgin Mary to read (All Saints Church website)
Blackburn Window, detail of donor portraits of Nicholas and Margaret Blackburn.  She is holding
a book of hours. (Gordon Plumb, flickr)
Wills of Margaret Blackburn and her husband, Nicholas  (Commentary by Stephen Alsford)

January 2011

Coakley, John. "Women’s Textual Authority and the Collaboration of Clerics." Medieval Holy Women in the Christian Tradition c. 1100-c. 1500. Edited by Alastair Minnis and Rosalyn Voaden. Brepols, 2010. Pages 83-104.

Abstract: Texts of the first kind explore what were for clerical authors the women’s real and discrete powers, but they particularly highlight their harmony with, and obedience to, clerical authority, and as a source for women’s own voices must be read with extreme caution. Clerics brought the same concerns to the second kind of text, but the extent of their collaboration varies greatly. In some cases, e.g. the putative writings of Christine of Stommeln, clerics are the real authors; in other cases, e.g., the letters of Catherine of Siena and the visionary works of Hildegard of Bingen, we are likely hearing the women’s own voices with little interference. Many works of women lie between these extremes; thus Bridget of Sweden composed her revelations but acknowledged that her collaborators would elaborate upon them. In a very few cases, such as the writings of Elisabeth of Schönau and Angela of Foligno, the collaboration with clerics becomes observable as a proper subject of the narrative, and suggests that those clerics were concerned not only to control or supervise the women but also to consider, with fascination, the women’s own influence and authority. [Abstract supplied by the author]

Book description from Brepols

December 2010

Bennett, Judith M. "Compulsory Service in Late Medieval England." Past and Present 209 (2010): 7-51.

Abstract: This essay examines how a new regime of labor control was imposed--especially on unemployed women--in England after the Great Pestilence of 1347-9. “Compulsory service” required any able-bodied but “idle” person under 60 years of age to submit to employment as a servant. It could be any sort of reasonable service, any master or mistress, and any time of year. If the laborer refused to serve, he or she was immediately imprisoned or put in the stocks, to be released only when ready to accept the offered employment. Enforced through an early form of summary justice, compulsory service was rarely mentioned in court records, but it seems to have been widely practiced, and its sparse documentation suggests that women were especially liable to be thusly compelled. The essay concludes by reflecting on how this summary imposition of compulsory service provides yet another piece of evidence that belies the notion of an uptick in women’s opportunities between 1350 and 1500. [Abstract supplied by the author]

September 2010

WLA metmuseum French Enthroned Virgin and Child

Sand, Alexa. "Vindictive Virgins: Animate Images and Theories of Art in Some Thirteenth-Century Miracle Stories." Word & Image 26, 2 (2010): 150-159.

Abstract: While medieval writers seldom articulated clear theories of the visual arts or methods for its interpretation, there can be no doubt that the audiences of medieval art understood it as the product of human craft and intelligence. However, because of the sacred iconography of many works of art, and because of these works’ place in ritual and religious experience their character as visual objects could never be understood simply from an aesthetic or connoisseurial point of view. Particularly when images represented Christ and the Virgin Mary, their sacred status could conflict with their objecthood. This article investigates a number of instances in the Marian miracle literature of the thirteenth century that articulate this conflict; giving a variety of examples of viewers who respond inappropriately to physical representations of the Virgin and Child and suffer surprisingly violent reprisals as a result, these stories instruct and inform their audience about the proper visual perception of holy images. That the Virgin should be at the center of this discourse, in the form of an animate image, makes sense, given her intercessory and maternal role. What emerges from analysis of these episodes is evidence for awareness, on the part of medieval audiences, of the polysemic potential of images, of the serious risks of misinterpretation, and of the visual differences between what we now call Romanesque and Gothic style. [Abstract supplied by the author]

August 2010

Silleras-Fernández, Núria. "Money isn’t Everything: Concubinage, Class and the Rise and Fall of Sibil·la de Fortià, Queen of Aragon (1377-87)." Women and Wealth in Late Medieval Europe. Edited by Theresa Earenfight. The New Middle Ages, Bonnie Wheeler, series editor. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Pages 67-88.

Abstract: This article examines the experiences of Sibil.la de Fortià, a Catalan widow of the lower nobility who was the concubine of the King of the Crown of Aragon, Pere the Ceremonious (1336-1387) and became his fourth wife in 1377. Whereas as his lover Sibil.la was accepted by the Catalano-Aragonese upper nobility, as wife she was spurned; looked down upon for her unpolished manners and declassé origin and viewed as a potential threat by Pere's two grown sons, Joan and Martí. Once she married and was crowned as queen, Sibil.la became an active advocate of her own family at the royal court, influencing the king to put family members in positions of influence. This only further stoked the rancor of the upper nobility, particularly given her relatives' hubristic tendencies. When Pere became mortally ill in 1387 Sibil.la fled fearing the retribution of his family and the aristocracy that would surely follow the kings demise. When she was corralled and threw herself at their mercy she and her family members were put on trial for abandoning the king, embezzlement and for sorcery. Some of her dependents were executed, her relatives were deprived of their positions and incomes, and Sibil.la was disgraced a meager allowance, and eventually, just before her death, took the vows of Poor Claire. Sibil.la's experiences reveal the vulnerability of queens and noblewomen who, while they may have enjoyed the support of their husbands, were spurned by their peers, and demonstrate the determination of the upper aristocracy to close the ranks when faced with what they regarded as an interloper, even if she was their queen. [Abstract supplied by the author]

June 2010

Hardgrave, Jason D. "Parishes and Patriarchy: Gender and Boundaries in Late Medieval Venice." Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 41, 1 (2010): 251-275.

Abstract: Venice's physical borders, a result of insular geography, provide an opportunity to measure and explain the gendering of spaces and people's movements through them. Analysis of notarial documents produced in two adjacent parishes during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries make it possible to examine the patterns of movement of Venetian men and women. The results indicate a clear difference in distances traveled by both, as well as a distinct change in these patterns from the fourteenth to the fifteenth century. Transformations in Venetian demographics, economics, and politics in this period altered the physical and customary boundaries and routes of travel within the city, affecting the gender-defined boundaries. While both men and women moved more often and farther in the fifteenth century, the culturally defined spaces for women were most altered. The customary and practical gendering of spaces resulted in women moving less than men, but not necessarily lessening women's agency.

[Reproduced from the journal's page at the Brill web site.]

April 2010

Fuente, María Jesús. "Christian, Muslim and Jewish Women in Late Medieval Iberia." Medieval Encounters: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Culture in Confluence and Dialogue 15, 2-4 (2009): 319-333.

[Reproduced from the journal's page at the Brill web site.]

Abstract: Scholars have studied in depth the relations among Christian, Muslim and Jews in Medieval Iberia, but they have largely ignored Christian, Muslim and Jewish women. This essay focuses on the role of these women in Medieval Iberia. It looks at their activities in the household as well as in the society in general, and especially at relationships between women of the three communities. It analyzes whether these women contributed toward a harmonious society and whether they fostered separatism or integration. It also points out how, as well as taking care of their children and tending to other domestic tasks, these women served as defenders of the cultural identity of their communities, especially in times of persecution. Although excluded from religious activities, Muslim and Jewish women in particular helped maintain the religion and culture of their ancestors.

March 2010

Kerby-Fulton, Kathryn. "Introduction: Skepticism, Agnosticism and Belief: The Spectrum of Attitudes toward Vision in Late Medieval England."

Women and the Divine in Literature before 1700: Essays in Memory of Margot Louis. Edited by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton. ELS Editions, 2009. Pages 1-17.

Book description from ELS Editions

Abstract: This essay is about two interconnected problems that bedevil the study of women and the divine in the Middle Ages. The first of these arises because often only accounts of women visionaries filtered through male scribes survive,[1] a problem that becomes particularly acute in cases where men are abridging or otherwise editing women’s texts. Since generally we often do not even know whether original women’s materials have been lost, this essay will look at two cases in which we are fortunate to have both longer and more heavily abridged versions for comparison – evidence, that is, from the transmission of St. Perpetua’s and Christina of Markyate’s visions.[2] The second problem is a nagging one in the study of visionary writing generally: how did medieval people really feel about visions? As the reception evidence in this essay shows, there was quite a wide range of opinion. In an age during which written records of agnosticism or atheism are rare, response to female visionary writing offers a small glimpse at some forbidden territory, because, as Margot Louis showed, women display “far greater spiritual diversity” than their more uniformly trained male counterparts usually could.[3]

January 2010

Lightfoot, Dana Wessell. "The Projects of Marriage: Spousal Choice, Dowries, and Domestic Service in Early Fifteenth-Century Valencia."

Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 40, 1 (2009): 333-353.

The journal is sponsored by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

Abstract: Using notarial records and civil court cases from the city of Valencia during the fifteenth century, this article explores the marital strategies of laboring-status women who worked as domestic servants prior to marrying. Analyzing the extant evidence through the concept of “agency of intentions” (developed by Sherry Ortner), I argue that the act of marriage and the gathering of dotal assets were culturally constituted projects that infused the lives of laboring-status women with meaning and purpose. While traditionally marriage has been seen as an institution dominated by women’s families, I contend that the women focused upon in my study exercised greater agency than elite women in contracting their marriages, providing dotal assets and challenging their husbands’ authority over this property in dowry restitution cases due to their laboring-status, immigrant and domestic service backgrounds.

[Reproduced from the journal web site at Brepols Publishers.]

December 2009

Gill, Amyrose McCue. "Fraught Relations in the Letters of Laura Cereta: Marriage, Friendship, and Humanist Epistolarity."

Renaissance Quarterly 62, 4 (2009): 1098-1129.

The journal is sponsored by the Renaissance Society of America.

Abstract: Laura Cereta is unique among Quattrocento female humanists in directly addressing the position of women as wives and as friends in her substantial corpus of erudite Latin epistolary prose. Questioning the ideals that governed intellectual, social, and personal expectations of matrimony, Cereta's letters reflect her self-consciously double status as humanist and spouse. Her fierce critique of marriage as a site of female oppression and complicity implies an alternative that requires of humanists, husbands, and wives a radical rethinking of marriage in terms of friendship, as well as of the very project of humanist epistolarity.

[Reproduced from the journal web site at the University of Chicago Press.]

November 2009

Otis-Cour, Leah. "De jure novo: Dealing with Adultery in the Fifteenth-Century Toulousain."

Speculum 84, 2 (2009): 347-392.

Abstract: It has often been asserted in scholarly literature that repression of wifely adultery in the Middle Ages was severe. There is, however, overwhelming evidence—in customary law, court records, notarial documents and literature-- that, starting no later than the twelfth century, the tendency was toward clemency and reconciliation rather than exemplary repression. This tendency was clearly linked to the Church’s growing insistence on marital indissolubility ; if an unfaithful wife could not be repudiated, discretion was a wiser option than repression. A “divorce Italian style”—murder of the adulterous wife—was less common than has often been claimed, and royal letters of pardon, no guarantee of impunity, as they were subject to critical judicial review. A detailed analysis of one case of a “pardoned” wife-slayer who was in fact decapitated, by the Parlement de Toulouse, reveals the juridical reasoning that could be invoked to motivate rejection of such a royal pardon. A popular “solution” to wifely adultery was reconciliation of the couple, officialized before public authorities or before a notary,in acts that sometimes stipulate a monetary compensation to the offended husband, but always include a promise on his part to treat his wife well in the future, for it had become the accepted wisdom by the fifteenth century that marital violence or negligence was a major cause of wifely adultery. Husbandly adultery was taken seriously toward the end of the Middle Ages, especially when the adulterous relationship took the form of concubinage. Enlightened elements of the late medieval world deemed that, compared to the draconian solutions of the past (Old Testament lapidation, the stake of Arthurian fame), contemporary society’s relative clemency regarding wifely adultery, along with its insistence on the accountability of husbands and emphasis on reconciliation, constituted a civilized, progressive solution to the problem of marital infidelity. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

October 2009

Yri, Kirsten. "Remaking the Past: Feminist Spirituality in Anonymous 4 and Sequentia's Vox Feminae."

Women and Music 12 (2008): 1-21. Available online through Project Muse.

Abstract: In her 1994 review of recordings of medieval and Renaissance music for the journal Plainsong and Medieval Music critic Tess Knighton distinguished with the heading "Women's Music" a new section devoted purely to female voices. Making note of the in-creased visibility of and special interest in the sounds of female voices and presenting evidence of historical precedent for their use in medieval sacred and secular music, Knighton remarked, "The sound of all-women's voices is consistently refreshing—perhaps simply because we have become so accustomed to hearing men singing chant in particular." 1 Indeed, before the release of recordings by all-female voices, the association of chant with the male voice would have appeared "natural" to the worshiper or listener. This article discusses the shift from male to female voice in recordings by all-female ensembles Anonymous 4 and Sequentia's Vox Feminae, exploring the range of ideological positions such recordings involve. In featuring all-female voices these ensembles do more than construct new sounds for the medieval polyphony and monophony they perform. They also reshape attitudes toward medieval society, effectively remaking the past as a site for feminist and spiritual exploration. 2 [Summary from the Project Muse site]

September 2009

Amer, Sahar. "Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women."

Journal of the History of Sexuality 18, 2 (2009): 215-236. Available online through Project Muse.

Abstract: If the absence of a specific terminology to denote lesbianism in medieval Europe seems to have compromised the production of scholarship about same-sex love and desire among women, the existence of the label sahq and sihaqa, musahaqat al-nisa', or sahiqa (Arabic words for "lesbianism" and "lesbian," respectively) in medieval Arabic writings did not result in a richer critical production. In fact, if relatively little research has been conducted on female same-sex desire in medieval Europe, even less has been produced on homosexuality in the medieval Arabic literary or Islamicate tradition, and almost no research at all has been done on medieval Arab Islamicate lesbianism. This state of scholarship into alternative sexual practices in the Arab Islamicate world is especially astonishing considering the survival of a noteworthy body of primary texts dealing precisely with this topic. Furthermore, if one broadens the category of medieval Arab lesbian to include women who were "lesbian-like," as Judith Bennett has invited us to do in our construction of the history of Western female homosexuality, we uncover additional expressions of medieval Arab lesbian presence. For indeed, the cultural and social life of some women in certain medieval Arab courts, including their work and lifestyle, may well unveil unsuspected spaces in which same-sex activities might have occurred. If it is not always clear that these practices could be dubbed lesbian, they may well be considered lesbian-like. [Summary reproduced by permission of the University of Texas Press]

August 2009

Muir, Carolyn Diskant. "Love and Courtship in the Convent: St. Agnes and the Adult Christ in Two Upper Rhine Manuscripts."

Gesta 47, 2 (2008): 123-145. Published by the International Center of Medieval Art.

Abstract: Two manuscripts, both dating about 1300, from convents in the Upper Rhine contain a group of illuminated initials and border medallions that depict St. Agnes of Rome as the bride of a loving adult Christ. The portrayal of Agnes as Christ’s bride in any form is an unusual subject, occurring almost exclusively between about 1450 and 1520 in northern Europe and presenting Christ in his infant form, similar to the common iconography for St. Catherine of Alexandria. These much earlier manuscripts present the scene in a completely different manner and derive from very different visual conventions than the later examples. The imagery in one manuscript relates to that of Ecclesia wedding Christ as found in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Bibles, while the imagery in the other derives from the iconography of a late medieval poem,Christus und die minnende Seele. This illustrated poem, extant only in later manuscripts and early printed versions, can be traced back to older originals dating from the late thirteenth or early fourteenth centuries, which were known in Upper Rhine convents. The article considers why such an unusual representation of Agnes might have appeared in these convents and suggests an explanation relating to both the consecration ceremony for nuns and the distinctive conventions of a feminine spirituality that were common at that time throughout Europe, and were especially prevalent in Germany.

[Abstract reproduced by permission of the International Center of Medieval Art.]

July 2009

Baumgarten, Elisheva. "Jewish Conceptions of Motherhood in Medieval Christian Europe: Dialogue and Difference."

Micrologus: Natura, Scienze e Società 17 (2009): 149-165. Theme issue: La madre. Published bySismel.

Abstract: This article examines understandings of motherhood in the Jewish communities of Germany and Northern France in the high Middle Ages. The article begins by discussing texts in which one can see a binary division between men and women in regards to their parenting skills and capabilities, with men providing spiritual guidance and women concerning themselves with the physical well being of their children. I then proceed to challenge this binary division, bringing three examples that complicate such an understanding. The three examples discuss nursing practices among Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages, a custody suit presented to the pope in the thirteenth century and medieval retellings of the story of the Macabbean mother whose seven sons were martyred.

The article concludes by pointing to parallels between the ideas raised in the Jewish texts to contemporary Christian texts. I suggest the advantages of studying Jewish culture as part of medieval European culture and propose motherhood as a congenial point of departure for engaging both religious groups as separate communities and as a shared community, to create a connected history. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

May 2009

Solum, Stefanie. "Attributing Influence: The Problem of Female Patronage in Fifteenth-Century Florence."

Art Bulletin 90, 1 (2008): 76-100.

April 2009

McCash, June Hall. "The Role of Women in the Rise of the Vernacular." Comparative Literature 60, 1 (2008): 45-57.

March 2009

Howell, Martha. "The Gender of Europe's Commercial Economy, 1200-1700."

Gender & History 20, 3 (2008): 519-538.

February 2009

Cabré, Montserrat. "Women or Healers? Household Practices and the Categories of Health Care in Late Medieval Iberia."

Bulletin of the History of Medicine 82, 1 (2008): 18-51.

Abstract: Assessments of medieval health care used to focus on practitioners holding some sort of occupational label, resulting in a meager representation of women. This article intends to illustrate how women's significant contribution to healthcare can be mapped out by looking at the domestic space that is largely left outside the histories of medieval medicine. First, it explores the language that names women's activities to maintain health and alleviate illness, showing how words identifying women's capacities to heal come from everyday actions and belong to the semantic domain of women and mothers. The caring meanings ascribed to the words women, mothers, midwives, and nurses in the Iberian mother tongues conflate and describe acontinuum of practice whose origin is the household, from where it expands to the community. Second, it discusses the importance of women's ordinary domestic care within the theoretical frame of the six non-naturals, particularly feeding and nourishing, as well as presenting the household as an open and flexible space providing health care beyond the family. Third, by considering recipes as privileged evidence, it attempts to piece together a preliminary textual history of women's household knowledges that for centuries had been circumscribed to the domain of the oral. It identifies the written contexts where women's recipes appear through a long timespan, attesting changes in women's literate practices that give rise to new genres that illuminate a sphere previously opaque to the historical record. [Reproduced by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press.]

December 2008

Njus, Jesse. "The Politics of Mysticism: Elisabeth of Spalbeek in Context."

Church History 77, 2 (June 2008): 285-317.

November 2008

Griffiths, Fiona J. "The Cross and the Cura monialium: Robert of Arbrissel, John the Evangelist, and the Pastoral Care of Women in the Age of Reform."

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 83, 2 (April 2008): 303-330.

Abstract: This essay examines the rhetoric adopted by male church reformers during the eleventh and twelfth centuries in defending their provision of spiritual care to religious women (the cura monialium). Though contact between the sexes within the religious life was never without controversy, certain churchmen (among them Robert of Arbrissel, Peter Abelard, Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, Azecho of Worms, Guibert of Gembloux, and even Pope Gregory VII) explicitly defended men's spiritual service to women, likening their care for women to the care provided for the Virgin Mary by John the Evangelist--at Christ's explicit request. According to John’s gospel (John 19.26-27), as he hung on the cross, Jesus commended Mary to John’s care, presenting John as her adoptive son and Mary as John’s adoptive mother. By likening their own care for women to John's care for Mary, medieval churchmen offered a strong defense of the cura, implying that care for women was, in fact, a central part of the complete imitatio Christi, and a crucial part of men's own spiritual lives. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

October 2008

Winer, Rebecca Lynn. "Conscripting the Breast: Lactation, Slavery and Salvation in the Realms of Aragon and Kingdom of Majorca, c. 1250-1300." Journal of Medieval History 34 (2008): 164-184.

August 2008

Newman, Barbara. "The Visionary Texts and Visual Worlds of Religious Women."

In Crown and Veil: Female Monasticism from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Centuries. Edited by Jeffrey F. Hamburger and Susan Marti. Columbia University Press, 2008. Pages 151-171.

Abstract: This essay examines three distinguished monasteries for women--Rupertsberg in the twelfth century, Helfta in the thirteenth, and Unterlinden in the fourteenth--with attention to the ways that women's visionary spirituality evolved over time. Each community gave rise to a significant body of Latin religious writing, and each bears witness to a visual culture reinforced by its visionary nuns. But the general trend is from singularity toward communality, as visionary experience among women became increasingly common and eventually normative. Hildegard of Bingen's towering stature and unconventional iconography would yield to the more broadly based visionary culture of the Helfta nuns, including Gertrude, Mechthild of Hackeborn, and other writing sisters whose names have been lost. These nuns visualized and meditated on symbolic images such as the sacred or wounded heart of Christ, the heart as a house, and the heart inscribed with the arma Christi. In the Dominican sisterbooks of the fourteenth century, typified by Underlinden, virtually all the nuns experience visions and interact closely with devotional sculptures that include the crucifix, the Pieta, and the infant Christ. My conclusion looks at two vernacular authors, the beguine Mechthild of Magdeburg and the heterodox "Sister Catherine," whose withering scorn for visionary spirituality reminds us that not all women shared predominant views of either visions or images. [[Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

May 2008

Jordan, Erin L. "The 'Abduction' of Ida of Boulogne: Assessing Women's Agency in Thirteenth-Century France."

French Historical Studies 30, 1 (Winter 2007): 1-20.

April 2008

Pinkus, Assaf. "The Patron Hidden in the Narrative: Eve and Johanna at St. Theobald in Thann." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 70, 1 (2007): 23-54.

Abstract: The tyranny of the patristic Eve-Mary antithetical exegesis has dictated our understanding of medieval pictorial cycles to such a degree that we inevitably assume misogyny and female inferiority as an exclusive tenor. Eve’s mental and moral inadequacy, compounded by her condemnation for Adam’s fall, formed the meta-narrative of the apocryphal texts dedicated to the life of the protoplasts after the expulsion. An exceptional narration, however, can be found in the Creation cycle installed on the west façade of the collegiate St. Theobald in Thann, Alsace, 1324-1400. Based on the fourteenth-century mittelhochdeutsch text Eva und Adam, by a certain Lutwin, this cycle is shown here to offer an alternative exemplum of feminine conduct for the contemporary woman within the conventional doctrine. Lutwin’s poem presents neither Eve as a seductive and temptress, nor Adam as the victim of her seductions. Rather, he is depicted as an equally ardent party to sin. Standing before God, the strong and moral character of Eve offers a stark contrast to the weak character of Adam, who does not hesitate to throw all the responsibility on her. Fully aware of her misdeed, in this source Eve becomes a model of the virtues. Finally, the author exonerates Eve from any guilt of sin.

This article investigates the multiple voices integrated in the sculptural programs of Thann. I argue that that the choice of a particular biblical narrative for the cycle may reveal the particular patrons who commissioned this sculptural program. Thus, the unprecedented imagery and its literary source, as well as the differences between Lutwin’s narrative and the sculptured rendition, suggest two distinct yet complementary sets of intentions of the dual patronage of the church, which had to be delicately integrated. Whereas the local clergy may have perceived the sculptural cycle as either a conventional Marian theology or a counterpart expression of the comfort literature that emerged in response to the Black Death, the local nobility may have conceived it as an imprint of their own identity. This one-off move in Western art, narrating a non-misogynist sacred history, subverting thereby the existing patriarchal structures, is interpreted here as the choice and ideological stance of the local heiress and donor – Johanna von Pfirt. [[Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

March 2008

Keeffe, Katherine. "Leaving Wilton: Gunhild and the Phantoms of Agency." JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology 106, 2 (April 2007): 203-223.

February 2008

Berman, Constance Hoffman. "Women's Work in Family, Village, and Town after 1000 CE: Contributions to Economic Growth?." Journal of Women's History 19, 3 (Fall 2007): 10-32.

January 2008

Herzig, Tamar. "Witches, Saints, and Heretics: Heinrich Kramer's Ties with Italian Women Mystics." Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft 1, 1 (Summer 2006): 24-55.

Abstract: Heinrich Kramer’s notorious witchcraft manual "Malleus Maleficarum" (1486) has often been regarded in modern scholarship as the ultimate manifestation of Renaissance misogyny. Moreover, Kramer’s infamous diatribe on the female sex in the "Malleus" has recently been explained as resulting from his acute fear of the remarkable ascendancy of saintly female mystics in the late Middle Ages. Drawing on several hitherto-overlooked manuscript and printed sources concerning the latter part of Kramer’s inquisitorial career, which attest to his expressed admiration for contemporary Italian "sante vive" (living saints), this essay challenges the accepted historiographical view. As shown in the first part of the essay, the holy women that Kramer supported – Lucia Brocadelli, Colomba Guadagnoli, Stefana Quinzani and Osanna Andreasi – were all renowned for their somatic experiences, namely stigmatization, ascetic fasts, and ecstatic raptures. Such experiences had traditionally characterized women’s mystical sanctity in the Middle Ages, but they became increasingly suspect in the course of the fifteenth century. I argue that Kramer consciously attempted to mobilize the central features of medieval female spirituality in his campaign against the supposedly-heretical sect of the "Unitas fratrum" (the Bohemian Brethren) in Moravia at the turn of the sixteenth century. Consequently, the much-reviled misogynist contributed significantly to spreading the reputation for sanctity of four Italian female mystics throughout Europe. In the second part of the essay, I propose that Kramer’s eulogy of the Italian holy women went hand-in-hand with his earlier insistence on women’s inherent propensity toward witchcraft, and suggest a reappraisal of his attitude toward women, witches, and female sanctity. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

The journal Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft is published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

December 2007

Crabb, Ann. "'If I could write': Margherita Datini and Letter Writing, 1385-1410." Renaissance Quarterly 60, 4 (Winter 2007): 1170-1206.

Abstract: Margherita Datini's correspondence with her husband Francesco presents a well-documented case of progress from partial to full literacy. In Margherita's merchant world, letter writing was a major concern, and her household duties included frequent reports to her absent husband. First, she prided herself on her dictation, and then she turned her attention to reading and writing. A recently discovered autograph letter shows that she was writing at twenty-eight, earlier than previously thought, and she attained full literacy in her mid-thirties. After that, writing no longer seemed a challenge, and she returned to using a scribe.

[Reproduced by permission of the Renaissance Society of America.]

June 2007

Earenfight, Theresa. "Without the Persona of the Prince: Kings, Queens and the Idea of Monarchy in Late Medieval Europe." Gender & History 19, 1 (April 2007): 1-21.

Abstract: This essay challenges conventional theory on monarchy by reformulating the theory and practice of late medieval kingship and queenship. The career of María of Castile, a politically powerful fifteenth-century Spanish queen, reveals the inadequacy of conventional definitions of monarchy as rule by one man. Analyzing both kingship and queenship utilizing postmodern theories on power as multi-focal and variable demonstrates that monarchy was not the domain of a single Prince, but many princes, women as well as men. Monarchy is best regarded as a dynamic political partnership with kingship as the controlling aspect, but with queenship an important component in the theory, structure, and practice. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

May 2007

Schultz, James A. "Heterosexuality as a Threat to Medieval Studies." Journal of the History of Sexuality 15, 1 (January 2006): 14-29.

February 2007

Eckstein, Nicholas A. "The Widows' Might: Women's Identity and Devotion in the Brancacci Chapel." Oxford Art Journal 28, 1 (2005): 99-118.

January 2007

Bartlett, Anne Clark. "Translation, Self-Representation, and Statecraft: Lady Margaret Beaufort and Caxton's 'Blanchardyn and Eglantine.'" Essays in Medieval Studies 22 (2005): 53-66.

Abstract: Late medieval England is famous for the production of the literature of statecraft: guides for the education and conduct of kings and princes, chivalric manuals and romances, and treatises on the martial arts. Although women have long been identified as readers of medieval romance and occasionally, as in the case of Christine de Pisan, translators of handbooks on war and governance, female readers have rarely been seen as important audiences for this administrative material. Yet records of book ownership and patronage indicate that numerous royal, noble, and gentry women owned, commissioned, and bequeathed such "mirrors for princesses." An important example is Lady Margaret Beaufort's first recorded exercise in patronage, an English adaptation of the French romance Blanchardyn and Eglantine. This text constitutes a thinly veiled and highly idealized account of its patron's own exercise of statecraft. Read in the context of Lady Margaret's political activities, this text functions as dynastic, nationalistic, gendered, and highly personal propaganda, and it also provides a resource and validation for other aristocratic women engaged in making policy and governing estates. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

December 2006

Weiss, Julian. "What Every Noblewoman Needs to Know: Cultural Literacy in Late-Medieval Spain." Speculum 81, 4 (October 2006): 1118-1149.

Abstract: The spread of lay literacy during the later Middle Ages had profound implications for many aspects of aristocratic literary culture. This essay explores the construction of gender boundaries that, in theory at least, were thought to separate male and female cultural literacy. Drawing on evidence from fifteenth-century Castilian epistles, it examines the exchanges between one nobleman, Fernando de la Torre, and his anonymous female correspondents over the scope and depth of literacy considered appropriate for men and women. The article includes a detailed textual analysis of the first extended defence of female literacy written in medieval Spain. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

November 2006

Hayum, Andrée. "A Renaissance Audience Considered: The Nuns at S. Apollonia and Castagno's 'Last Supper.'" Art Bulletin 88, 2 (June 2006): 243-266.

Abstract: Andrea del Castagno’s Last Supper has been well known to art historians especially once it began to appear in general survey books more than forty years ago. Its treatment, however, was often either from the retrospective vantage point of Leonardo’s more famous example in Milan or in terms of the development of this theme within the context of monastery refectories in Florence. Since Castagno’s Last Supper was commissioned for a convent of Benedictine nuns, research about gender and aspects of women’s piety is brought to bear in an exploration of how Castagno’s remarkable fresco related to its original female viewers. [Reproduced by permission of the College Art Association.]

October 2006

Butler, Sara M. "'I will never consent to be wedded with you!':Coerced Marriage in the Courts of Medieval England." Canadian Journal of History 39, 2 (2004): 247-270.

Abstract: This paper asks us to rethink the boundaries between consent and coercion in medieval England. From gentle persuasion to threats and abuse, coercion was a part of the courtship process. Although late medieval society expected parents to play an active, even heavy-handed, role in matchmaking, the English church recognized the possibility that parents might cross the line between influence and force, and consequently permitted annulments on these grounds. What happened when it was not the parents, but an overly zealous suitor who coerced a marriage? Very few Englishwomen brought suits of force and fear against their husbands. Those few documented cases of coerced marriage that have survived from the York cause papers of the later Middle Ages reveal how the victims perceived their own situations, and the ways litigants used the church courts to address these concerns. [Reproduced by permission of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire.]

September 2006

Bratsch-Prince, Dawn. "The Politics of Self-Representation in the Letters of Violant de Bar (1365-1431)." Medieval Encounters 12, 1 (2006): 2-25.

August 2006

Fleck, Cathleen A. "'To exercise yourself in these things by continued contemplation': Visual and Textual Literacy in the Frescoes of Santa Maria Donna Regina. In "The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art, Iconography, and Patronage in Fourteenth Century Naples. Edited by Janis Elliott and Cordelia Warr. Ashgate 2004. Pages 109-128.

Abstract: The author argues that the Donna Regina fresco program was planned to enhance the resident nuns' understanding and meditation on the tenets of the faith. Furthermore many of the nuns would have had a visual literacy as well as a textual literacy to understand both the sophisticated iconography and the Latin inscriptions. The nuns also would need to summon up relevant Biblical texts and other readings from memory. This implied acceptance of the use of art and text to aid the nuns in moving through perceptive stages signaled important fourteenth-century changes in the role of images and literacy in a female monastic setting[Abstract supplied by the author.]

June 2006

Raine, Melissa. "'Fals flesch': Food and the Embodied Piety of Margery Kempe." New Medieval Literatures 7 (2005): 101-126.

Abstract: In examining Margery Kempe's various interactions with food which include feeding the poor, fasting, receiving the Eucharist, and eating at the tables of prominent people, Raine does not find gender a highly significant factor. Rather Margery acts out of highly individualized motivations including a concern to establish and enhance her own standing. In her conclusion Raine questions Caroline Walker Bynum's approach to women and food in Holy Feast and Holy Fast, finding the methodology and assumptions inadequate for the historical realities of gendered expectations and devotional practices.[Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

April 2006

Stuard, Susan Mosher. "Marriage Gifts and Fashion Mischief." In The Medieval Marriage Scene: Prudence, Passion, Policy. Edited by Sherry Roush and Cristelle L. Baskins. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, Volume 299. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005. Pages 169-185.

Abstract: Susan Mosher Stuard in "Marriage Gifts and Fashion Mischief" details Italian wedding transactions, including the Lombard "male dowry," and the Roman bride's fiscal gift to her husband. She links the increasing pressure from husbands to receive liquid assets, rather than clothes, jewelry, linens, or domestic furnishings, to the advent of sumptuary laws in "the first age of European fashion."

Excerpt from The Medieval Marriage Scene: Prudence, Passion,Policy, edited by Sherry Roush and Cristelle L. Baskins. MRTS Volume 299. (Tempe, AZ, 2005) p. xiv. Copyright Arizona Board of Regents for Arizona State University. Reprinted with permission.

March 2006

Powell, Morgan. "Making the Psalter of Christina of Markyate (The St. Albans Psalter)" Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 36 (2005): 293-335.

Abstract: The pictures and texts in the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, best known as the St. Albans Psalter, document a nascent fascination with a woman’s devotional reading and visionary powers in the first half of the twelfth century. They place the book on the threshold of an expansion of religious art and literature that will soon bring a dramatic turn in the relationship between the lay public and the book, between the receiving subject and the (written) Word. Proper assessment of the place of the book and its owner in these developments depends on a detailed understanding of the book’s assembly in relationship to the progress of Christina’s relationship to the Abbey of St. Albans. This article combines detailed study of the codex, full cognizance of the events reported in Christina’s contemporary Vita, and the observations of recent scholarship in order to place study of the book on a new foundation. [Reproduced by permission of Brepols Publishers.]

February 2006

Heller, Ena Giurescu. "Access to Salvation: The Place (and Space) of Women Patrons in Fourteenth-Century Florence." In Women's Space: Patronage, Place, and Gender in the Medieval Church. Edited by Virginia Chieffo Raguin and Sarah Stanbury. State University of New York Press, 2005. Pages 161-183.

Abstract: Ena Giurescu Heller's chapter, like French's. is also the result of exhaustive archival research. examining data from the time of the building construction of Santa Maria Novella in Florence as well as records of subsequent historians. Noting, as does Corine Schleif in her earlier work on patronage in Nuremberg, that it was obligatory for the laity to engage in largess directed toward religious edifices, Heller, "Access to Salvation: The Place (and Space) of Women Patrons in Fourteenth-century Florence," also shows how the record of that largess has been skewed through later assumptions about gendered practices of donors and patrons. Although she makes little explicit reference to theoretical work on space, Heller demonstrates that the habitus can elucidate practices of patronage in fourteenth-century Florence as well as later paradigms for reading the historical records, which would take as axiomatic that important gifts are preforce male. In the early records of Santa Maria Novella, Heller has discovered significant documentation of female presence in civic and religious spheres. However, visible public markers and later historical records - from the seventeenth century to the present - have systematically overlooked the role played by women, such as Monna Andrea Acciaiuoli, widow of Mainardo Cavalcanti, who was the effective patron in the building of a new sacristy in the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Most documents mention only the founders of chapels or monuments and rarely mention the contributions of widows who went on to execute the legacy after the founders' death; and even where the contribution is documented, public acknowledgement of the gift, both contemporary and later, invariably highlights male patronage. The evidence Heller has assembled, dramatizing the importance of reexamining historical documents, offers a compelling case study of ways that historical records have significantly misrepresented women's gifts and women's lives.[Sarah Stanbury and Virginia Chieffo Raguin, "Introduction" Women's Space: Patronage, Place, and Gender in the Medieval Church, p. 15] [Reproduced by permission of State University of New York Press]

January 2006

Pearson, Andrea G. "Gendered Subject, Gendered Spectator: Mary Magdalen in the Gaze of Margaret of York" Gesta 44, 1 (2005): 47-66.

Abstract: This paper treats the construction of gender by the consumer and producers of a devotional manual commissioned by Margaret of York (1446-1503), duchess of Burgundy. The volume, "Le dyalogue de la duchesse de Bourgogne à Jésus Christ," is embellished with a frontispiece of the "noli me tangere," which in an arrangement unprecedented in Burgundian court portraiture, depicts a living subject-Margaret- in the guise of Mary Magdalen.

This essay posits that the duchess, the primary audience of the miniature, responded to it with a multilayered gaze that reflected both her own experiences as a woman and the Magdalen's complex, gendered persona. Since the text and frontispiece of the manual were produced by men, the volume provides a salient opportunity to explore the tensions that could arise when men crafted women's identities. In particular, a potentially destabilizing contradiction exists between the text and image that had the potential to undermine the duchess' piety. This negating message, however, would not have jeopardized Margaret's devotion, since she could have exercised her agency as a viewer to resist its unpalatable aspects. Such a model forwards the duchess' gaze as deeply responsive and highly authoritative, so much so that it could have circumvented, through the affirming features of the Magdalen's persona, gender biases that imperiled her political authority. [Reproduced by permission of the International Center of Medieval Art]

November 2005

Martin, Therese. "The Art of a Reigning Queen as Dynastic Propaganda in Twelfth-Century Spain." Speculum 80, 4 (October 2005): 1134-1171.

Abstract: Queen Urraca ruled over the kingdom of León-Castile from her father’s death in 1109 to her own in 1126. She carried out a series of strategies that secured her unprecedented position as queen regnant, including command of the military, public acknowledgment of her favorite from the upper nobility and, as I argue, architectural patronage. The changes and additions she made to her family’s church of San Isidoro in the capital city of León responded to her purposeful, ideological aims. Urraca used architecture to emphasize her role as her father’s legitimate heir. Two other reigning queens, Matilda of England and Melisende of Jerusalem, provide telling comparative material for a discussion of Urraca’s politics and patronage. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

October 2005

Hilsdale, Cecily J. "Constructing a Byzantine Augusta: A Greek Book for a French Bride." Art Bulletin 87, 3 (September 2005): 458-483.

Abstract: A twelfth-century illuminated Greek manuscript in the Vatican alternates text and image in a novel way. Created for a young French princess betrothed to the son of a Byzantine emperor, it enacts the princess's separation from her homeland, her transformation into augusta, and her incorporation into an imperial family rife with faction. Beyond depicting a rite of passage, however, the book's ritualized narrative constructs and organizes a set of social relations. Interrogating the particular relation between an art object and its potential for social agency reveals that the manuscript masks tensions as much as it creates cohesion. [Reproduced by permission of the College Art Association].

September 2005

Phillips, Kim M. "Desiring Virgins: Maidens, Martyrs, and Femininity in Late Medieval England." InYouth in the Middle Ages. Edited by P. J. P. Goldberg and Felicity Riddy. Boydell Press, 2004.

Abstract: The author explores the attractions of virgin martyr stories for young women in the audience. Phillips suggests that the treatment of sexual themes in these stories should be described as "parasexual" (borrowed from studies of Victorian bar maids), cases in which sexuality is acknowledged but is controlled. At the same time the young virgin martys are presented as beautiful, glamorous, and dressed in fashionable clothing, subjects that are all of prime interest to the young women in the audience. Title note supplied by Feminae.

August 2005

Udry, Susan. "'Putting on the Girls': Mary's Girlhood and the Performance of Monarchical Authority in Philippe de Mézières's Dramatic Office for the "Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple." European Medieval Drama 8 (2004):1-17.

Abstract: The author finds a connection between the presentation of Mary's feminine virtues and French royal authority. The play, written by courtier Philippe de Mézières, called for a young girl of three or four to portray Mary. Udry draws parallels with conduct literature to argue that Mary's feminine qualities would have been a model not only for men and women but also for the king of France. Title note supplied by Feminae.

July 2005

Nelson, Janet L. "Gendering Courts in the Early Medieval West." In Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900. Edited by Leslie Brubaker and Julia M. H. Smith. Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pages 185-197.

May 2005

Halevi, Leor. "Wailing for the Dead: The Role of Women in Early Islamic Funerals." Past and Present 183 (May 2004): 3-39.

Abstract: This article concerns Muslim reactions to a woman's ritual, wailing for the dead. Halevi contrasts the approach to the ritual of eighth-century Islamic religious authorities of Medina, a city in Arabia, with those of Kufa, a garrison city in Mesopotamia. He argues that the Sunni pietists of Kufa, prompted by an acute anxiety about women mixing with men, found new ways to restrict women's sphere of action. Their restrictions differed from the prevailing traditions about women's participation in Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian funerals, and thus formed part of a new ideology of gender dominance. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

April 2005

Peterson, Janine Larmon. "Social Roles, Gender Inversion, and the Heretical Sect: The Case of the Guglielmites." Viator 35 (2004): 203-219.

Abstract: This article investigates the relationship between two leaders of a thirteenth-century Milanese heretical sect named the Guglielmites. The Guglielmites believed a woman named Guglielma of Milan was the female incarnation of the Holy Spirit, and with her predicted Second Coming there would be a new church with a female pope at the helm. Andrea Saramita, the primary disseminator of these heterodox ideas, and Maifreda da Pirovano, the chosen future pope, worked together to organize the activities and beliefs of the sect divided upon gender lines. The inquisitorial process reveals that they had a complementary but unequal partnership: Maifreda’s power gradually surpassed Andrea’s, leading to some resentment on Andrea’s part. It is precisely because the sect was heretical, the article argues, that Maifreda was able to invert socially constructed gender roles and become the supreme authority for the group. [Reproduced by permission of Brepols Publishers.]

March 2005

Randolph, Adrian W. B. "Gendering the Period Eye: 'Deschi da Parto' and Renaissance Visual Culture." Art History 27, 4 (September 2004): 538-562.

Abstract: Michael Baxandall's concept of the "period eye" emphasizes the cultural constructedness of vision, characterizes a set of viewing norms, and charts the manner in which artists responded to these norms in their works. This interpretive structure has played an important role in the development of what has come to be known as visual culture. Through a particular example of "deschi da parto," or birth trays, this essay highlights how some of the issues raised by visual culture may be brought to bear upon the study of Italian Renaissance art, specifically in relation to gender and viewing. As moveable paintings that gained significance when carried and passed around in the rituals attending conception, pregnancy and birth, "deschi" specifically addressed feminine spectators. They participated in, even structured, a visual economy in which the pictorial merged with the haptic; the lone monocular beholder of mathematical linear perspective multiplied into a choric array of spectators; and the grammar of composition was subverted by an anti-grammatical pictorial vernacular. The "deschi" and the spaces of their reception offer, it is proposed, a heteroglossic alternative to the normative period eye.

[Reproduced by permission of Blackwell Publishing, publisher of Art History.]

January 2005

Ormrod, W. M. "Monarchy, Martyrdom, and Masculinity: England in the Later Middle Ages." InHoliness and Masculinity in the Middle Ages. Edited by P. H. Cullum and Katherine J. Lewis. University of Wales Press, 2004. Pages 174-191.

Abstract: Calling for a gendered reading of monarchy, the author emphasizes both the masculine and feminine characteristics necessary in rulership. Taking the kings who promoted the cults of Edward II and Henry VI as examples, Ormrod argues that the reassertion of the sainted kings' masculinity provided political stability but also countered the perceived gender transgressions of their queens, Isabelle of France and Margaret of Anjou. [Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

December 2004

Dean, Trevor. "Gender and Insult in an Italian City: Bologna in the Later Middle Ages," Social History 29, 2 (May 2004): 217-231.

November 2004

Lehmijoki-Gardner, Maiju. "Writing Religious Rules as an Interactive Process : Dominican Penitent Women and the Making of Their 'Regula,'" Speculum 79, 3 (July 2004): 660-687.

Abstract: In the fifteenth century, when the Dominican Order adopted their affiliated groups of penitent women officially, Thomas Caffarini rewrote the history of that association to make it appear more coherent. In fact, the relationship was informal; and these women and their patrons needed to lobby the friars for attention. Thus the original rule granted by Munio of Zamora was informal, given in response to these women. Once the order adopted the penitents more formally, they lost much of their initiative to the friars, whose histories of the movement buried traces of women's activities.[Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

October 2004

Shadis, Miriam. "Blanche of Castile and Facinger's 'Medieval Queenship': Reassessing the Argument." In Capetian Women. Edited by Kathleen Nolan. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Pages 137-161.

Abstract: The author examines Facinger's argument for the diminution of Capetian queenly power and holds up Blanche of Castile as a counter argument. Shadis points to her authority and power, often in "non-official" venues, as mother and regent, arguing that she shows a solid and consistent exercise of queenship. [Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

September 2004

Blumenthal, Debra. "Sclaves Molt Fortes, Senyors Invalts: Sex, Lies, and Paternity Suits in Fifteenth-Century Spain." In Women, Texts, and Authority in the Early Modern Spanish World. Edited by Marta V. Vicente and Luis R. Corteguera. Ashgate, 2003. Pages 17-35.

Abstract: In the Kingdom of Valencia slaves who bore their masters' children were automatically set free. However, in some cases masters, wrongly or rightly, denied fatherhood, and slaves would press their suits in court. Blumenthal explores the often complex motivations involved including the willingness of masters or their heirs to claim impotence as a defense. [Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

August 2004

Fitzgerald, Christina M. "Manning the Ark in York and Chester," Exemplaria 15, 2 (Fall 2003): 351-384.

Abstract: Much attention has been paid to the often outrageously comic depiction of Noah's Wife in late medieval drama. This essay, however, argues that the York and Chester plays use her character as only part of a larger story, one that is as much about Noah as about his Wife. That story details the anxieties and fantasies of being male in the Middle Ages, especially being an urban, mercantile or artisan class guildsman in these cities. Chester's "Flood" play presents Noah's family's escape on the ark as a symbolic escape from the city, a locus of social and economic change for men and women that threatens the perceived patriarchal unity of the household and guild. York's linked plays, "The Building of the Ark" and "The Flood," instead of an escape from the city, offer an idealized vision of it, especially in terms of male homosocial relationships. But even in the midst of this fantasy, the York narrative reveals the anxieties about masculine duties in the domestic and social spheres that spawned such compensatory, idealized narratives. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

July 2004

Wogan-Browne, Jocelyn. "Dead to the World? Death and the Maiden Revisited in Medieval Women's Convent Culture." In Guidance for Women in Twelfth-Century Convents. Translated by Vera Morton. D. S. Brewer, 2003. Pages 157-180.

Abstract: This essay looks at letters and biographies in the convents of Heloise and her English and French colleagues against the social and cultural history of medieval death. Rejecting stereotypes of nuns as immured from the world in the gothic embrace of a grave, the essay explores a living culture of death in which women interceded on behalf of themselves and others, organized their cultural traditions, shaped institutional memory, and dealt with the administrative, practical, and symbolic aspects of nunnery cemeteries. Equipping women for the work of commemoration and communion with the dead was to equip them with the means of self-conscious shaping of their own and others’ lives and spiritualities. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

June 2004

Dunlop, Anne. "Flesh and the Feminine: Early-Renaissance Images of the Madonna with Eve at Her Feet." Oxford Art Journal 25, 2 (2002): 127-147.

May 2004

Klinck, Anne L. "Poetic Markers of Gender in Medieval 'Woman's Song': Was Anonymous a Woman?" Neophilologus 87, 3 (July 2003): 339-359.

Abstract: How does the gender of an author or a speaker manifest itself in medieval poetry? In addition to the obvious grammatical markers, are there other devices that might be called poetic markers? This question is examined in the light of previous scholarship, and then with particular reference to five pairs of woman’s voice love-complaints, two each from various cultural contexts. Two of the poems are by women, three by men, the rest anonymous. The gender markers which are not merely lexical or grammatical are culture and genre-specific. Nevertheless, there are a few more general tendencies, notably the linkage of maleness with movement and violence, femaleness with detainment and enclosure. This contrast is not to be equated with activity versus passivity, however: most of these women speakers are self-assertive – those in the women-authored poems strikingly so. Interestingly, the most passive persona is to be found in an anonymous poem with transferrable voice: the speaker changed from female to male by manuscript alteration. Nothing can be regarded as a reliable test of authorial gender – but there are no indicators that would align the anonymous with the female-authored rather than the male-authored poems.

[Reproduced by permission of Kluwer.]

April 2004

Rollo-Koster, Joëlle. "From Prostitutes to Brides of Christ: The Avignonese Repenties in the Late Middle Ages." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 32, 1 (Winter 2002): 109-144.

Abstract: This paper investigates rival cultural appropriations in late medieval Avignon. On the one hand, it argues that men tried to appropriate and control female sexuality through various channels: the institutionalization of prostitution; the remedying of prostitution through charity; the reform of prostitutes through the establishment of "Repenties" Houses (convents for repentant prostitutes), and the development of the female penitential hagiographic model of Mary Magdalene. On the other hand, this paper also contends that women manipulated this process for during the late Middle Ages, the "Repenties" appropriated conventual life as they organized their house according to monastic rules. They successfully assimilated spiritual models of feminine penance that circulated in the late Middle Ages; and they fostered their temporals (worldly goods and properties) as nuns from regular orders did. Evidence of this cultural competition is seen very clearly in the spatial tug-of-war that took place between the founders of the Avignonese "Repenties" and the "Repenties" themselves. Even though the "Repenties'" convent was marginalized on the city’s southern boundaries, the nuns’ presence through real-estate endowments and acquisitions was felt in the heart of the city. Their success in embracing conventual rules and culture and their spatial arrogation of the city’s center illustrate how appropriation itself shaped the history of the Avignonese "Repenties." [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

March 2004

MacLean, Simon. "Queenship, Nunneries, and Royal Widowhood in Carolingian Europe." Past & Present 178 (February 2003): 3-38.

Abstract: The author traces the political implications of these three phenomena which came together very strongly during the second half of the ninth century. MacLean uses case studies of Empress Richgard's management of the monastery of Andlau in Alsace and of Empress Engelberga's administration of S. Sisto in Piacenza, Italy. In both instances the royal widows drew on natal family ties and regional connections to establish their authority. MacLean suggests that the rise in queenly influence at this period was in part an effort to establish a moral role for queens whose reputations had been badly tarnished by such events as Lothar's divorce. [Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

February 2004

Lees, Clare A., and Gillian R. Overing. "The Clerics and the Critics: Misogyny and the Social Symbolic in Anglo-Saxon Engalnd." Gender in Debate from the Early Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Edited by Thelma S. Fenster and Clare A. Lees. Palgrave, 2002. Pages 19-39.

Abstract: The authors argue that the Anglo-Saxon period has been wrongly ignored in the effort to understand the larger medieval debate about women. Looking at both Old English ("Maxims I" and "Beowulf") and Latin (Pseudo-Bede's "Collectanea" and various riddles) texts, Lees and Overing posit a more complicated mix of attitudes than the binary of modern critics which opposes body to intellect and submission to authority. [Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

January 2004

Bennett, Judith M. "Writing Fornication: Medieval Leyrwite and Its Historians." "The Prothero Lecture." Transactions of the Royal Historical Society Sixth Series 13 (2003): 131-162.

December 2003

Bailey, Michael D. "The Feminization of Magic and the Emerging Idea of the Female Witch in the Late Middle Ages." Essays in Medieval Studies 19 (2002): 120-134.

Abstract: This article explores Johannes Nider's text "Formicarius," written around 1437, and the first to state that women were more likely to be witches. Previously theologians had expressed concern over necromancy performed by learned men. However, women now posed a threat because their natures suited them to witchcraft, a feminized form of magic requiring sexual submission to the devil. [Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

November 2003

Griffiths, Fiona J. "Brides and 'Dominae': Abelard's 'Cura Monialium' at the Augustinian Monastery of Marbach." Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 34 (2003): 57-83.

Abstract: This article explores the use of Peter Abelard’s sermon On alms for the nuns of the Paraclete (sermon 30) in the Guta-Sintram Codex (ca. 1154), a work of collaboration between Guta, an Augustinian canoness from Schwartzenthann, and Sintram, a canon from the nearby community at Marbach. Focusing on interactions between the men and women of the two communities, from their shared beginnings during the reform enthusiasm of the late eleventh century to the more cautious spiritual climate of the latter half of the twelfth century, the article reveals the ways in which Marbach’s commitment to the cura monialium, the pastoral care of women, was influenced by Abelard’s belief in the dignity of women. That Marbach viewed the cura monialium as an integral, and even obligatory, part of its active ministry is most clearly expressed in Beati pauperes, an extract from Abelard’s sermon 30 that was included in the Guta-Sintram Codex. This text presents an intricate justification for men’s obligation to support religious women based on Abelard’s philosophy of women’s weakness and dignity. The identification of Beati pauperes with Abelard’s sermon provides the sole proof for the medieval use of Abelard’s sermons outside of the Paraclete and provides the clearest evidence that we have of the real impact of his vision for the pastoral care of women within the religious life. [Reproduced by permission of Brepols Publishers.]

October 2003

Laynesmith, J. l. "Constructing Queenship at Coventry: Pageantry and Politics at Margaret of Anjou's 'Secret Harbour.'" Fifteenth Century 3 (2003). Authority and Subversion. Pages 137-147.

Abstract: Coventry, one of the largest cities in England, was particularly loyal to Margaret of Anjou. In 1456 she was welcomed with particular pageantry. In these presentations the queen was compared to the Virgin Mary, as mother of a royal son, and to Saint Margaret as a dragon slayer. These ceremonies underlined her power, not that of her feeble husband; but Margaret did not arrogate his royal symbols to herself. Title note supplied by Feminae.

September 2003

Stanton, Robert. "Marriage, Socialization, and Domestic Violence in the "Life of Christina of Markyate." Domestic Violence in Medieval Texts. Edited by Eve Salisbury, Georgiana Donavin, and Merrall Llewelyn Price. University Press of Florida, 2002. Pages 242-271.

Abstract: The author emphasizes the social dimensions of the "Life" and argues that the monk/author was critical of the social acculturation required for the nobility. Stanton also argues that previous authors downplayed the violence her parents and fiancé do to Christina. Another important aspect of the "Life" is the pivotal moment it represents in the transformation of marriage when consent of both partners becomes more important. Title note supplied by Feminae.

August 2003

McNamara, Jo Ann. "Women and Power through the Family Revisited." Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages. Edited by Mary C. Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski. Cornell University Press, 2003. Pages 17-30.

Abstract: An earlier article by Suzanne Wemple and me, reprinted in Erler and Kowaleski's first "Woman and Power" anthology, argued that family connections endowed some early medieval women with wealth and power. The changes in family structure and general institutionalization severely reduced these advantages in the high middle ages. This proposition proved compatible to the main trend of scholarship in intervening decades and still generally prevails in the midst of recent controversies. Reviewing our arguments, I now believe that women's familial power was strongest as a wife and widow and owed little to connections with the natal family. The single-gender theories of antiquity favored their exercise of masculine roles to supplement or even replace their husband's power. This was not a result of unsettled conditions accompanying the "fall" of the Roman Empire but inherent in the establishment of the empire itself. A gendered master narrative therefore requires a reconfiguration of European chronology. The "middle ages" and the more recent "late antiquity" should be abandoned in favor of a division into first millennium history, when European society was dominated by class, and second millennium history, when women were relegated to a separate gender and the separation of male and female spheres became the foundation of a new social organization. [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]

July 2003

Wareham, Andrew. "The Transformation of Kinship and the Family in Late Anglo-Saxon England." Early Medieval Europe, 10, 3 (2001): 375-399.

June 2003

Strocchia, Sharon T. "Naming a Nun: Spiritual Exemplars and Corporate Identity in Florentine Convents, 1450-1530." Society & Individual in Renaissance Florence. Edited by William J. Connell. University of California Press, 2002. Pages 215-240.

Abstract: This essay examines the social and religious meanings attached to monastic naming practices in elite Florentine convents between 1450 and 1530. Taking a new name upon entering the religious life was a central act in the transition from lay to religious status, which helped make a nun “dead to the world” and gestured toward a new personal identity. Viewed collectively, the pool of religious names selected by a convent for entering nuns indexed its choices of spiritual patrons and exemplary figures the nuns wished to emulate. Despite the significance of exchanging one’s baptismal name for a monastic one, this practice was voluntary and episodic in nature throughout most of the fifteenth century and only became customary and regularized after 1500. Although reform-minded clerics encouraged these developments, these new practices took root primarily because they offered Florentine religious women a means to articulate their own corporate values and religious models, thereby giving each house a distinctive identity. Three distinct patterns emerge from the pool of names chosen during this period of rapid monastic expansion: first, the names of early Christian exemplars displaced those of medieval saints; second, names signaled a robust development of the cult of the angels; and finally, deceased nuns who were valued highly and remembered fondly in their communities were “remade” by giving their names to new novices. I argue that changes in naming practices between 1450 and 1530 document a growing female monastic self-consciousness and a new sense of community that was simultaneously religious, familial, and fundamentally female. [Abstract submitted by the author to Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index.]

May 2003

Gradowicz-Pancer, Nira. "De-gendering Female Violence: Merovingian Female Honour as an 'Exchange of Violence.'" Early Medieval Europe 11, 1 (2002):1-18.

Abstract: The phenomenon of female violence in the early Middle Ages has not been properly explored, largely because of a feminist ethic which correctly focuses on women as the victims, rather than as the perpetrators, of violence. The traditional gendered dividing line is transcended when female violence, like male violence, is regarded as a class characteristic or strategy, and when female practice can be explained by a code of behaviour shared by both sexes. Several case studies from the early Merovingian period, drawn from the work of Gregory of Tours, are here analysed in order to demonstrate how royal Merovingian women could preserve honour through the pursuit of violence. How far Gregory of Tours's account may be taken to depict social reality is a further issue discussed in relation to the case studies. These involve Clothild and Fredegund, and show female violence as a normal feature of Merovingian society, especially where single women had no immediate male protectors, but did have a great deal of personal honour to defend. In the case of Fredegund, violence was the result of premeditated revenge which publicly restored her honour and maintained her precedence in the social hierarchy. It seems clear that Merovingial women, unlike women of later times, could participate in the cycle of violence. [Reproduced by permission of Blackwell Publishers who publish Early Medieval Europe. Notice: The abstract is under copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.]

April 2003

Lansing, Carol. "Concubines, Lovers, Prostitutes: Infamy and Female Identity in Medieval Bologna." Beyond Florence: The Contours of Medieval and Early Modern Italy. Edited by Paula Findlen, Michelle M. Fontaine, and Duane J. Osheim. Stanford University Press, 2003. Pages 85-100.

Abstract: The author analyzes secular law court records both for the attitudes of poor men and women toward the informal living arrangements which some couples maintained and for the attitudes of the elite and of judges. The author argues that it was the intention of those with power to reinforce behavior norms for "honest" women. Title note supplied by Feminae.

March 2003

Nirenberg, David. "Conversion, Sex, and Segregation: Jews and Christians in Medieval Spain." American Historical Review 107, 4 (October 2002): 1065-1093.

Abstract: David Nirenberg reminds us that sexual prohibitions are among the most universal ways in which communities imagine their boundaries. Although he explains that this universality makes them attractive to historians and other social scientists, he also acknowledges that it makes them difficult to analyze historically. How, he asks, are we to subject such general phenomena to the particulars of place and time? In order to confront this question, Nirenberg first describes a sexualized logic through which medieval Christians imagined their common solidarity and the boundaries that set them apart from their Muslim and Jewish neighbors. Then he traces that logic across a period of dramatic transformation in Spanish history, a period punctuated by the massacre of thousands of Jews in 1391 and the conversion to Christianity of thousands more. He does so to analyze how the logic of sexual boundaries structured the expression of contemporary anxieties about these changes and how this logic itself was transformed by these anxieties. In this manner, Nirenberg's investigation of medieval Spain provides a case study for questions that are relevant to any number of societies whose categories and classifications are radically destabilized by mass conversion, assimilation, or emancipation. [Reproduced by permission of the American Historical Association.]

February 2003

D'Elia, Anthony F. "Marriage, Sexual Pleasure, and Learned Brides in the Wedding Orations of Fifteenth-Century Italy." Renaissance Quarterly 55, 2 (Summer 2002): 379-433.

Abstract: In the fifteenth century, Guarino Guarini, Luovico Carbone, Francesco Filelfo, and other humanists composed and delivered Latin orations at courtly weddings in Ferrara, Naples, and Milan. In these epithalamia, which are mostly unpublished, orators adapt a classically inspired conception of marriage to Italian court culture. They defend physical beauty and sexual pleasure, praise learned brides, and assert the importance of mutual affection, revealing a complex picture of ideal gender relations in courts. Against the ancient and Christian anti-marriage ascetic traditions, humanists offer biblical, philosophical, political, economic, and hedonistic arguments in defense of marriage. [Reproduced by permission of the Renaissance Society of America.]

January 2003

Lee, Becky R. "Men's Recollections of a Women's Rite: Medieval English Men's Recollections Regarding the Rite of the Purification of Women after Childbirth." Gender & History 14, 2 (August 2002): 224-241.

Abstract: This study examines the recollections of medieval English men, found in proof-of-age inquests, regarding their participation in the rite of the purification of women after childbirth. Because the rite of purification was reserved to women, scant attention has been paid to how this rite and the customs surrounding it played in the lives of medieval men. These men's recollections situate postpartum purification within the festivities celebrating the birth of a man's heir. For them, it is a public event celebrating paternity and lineage, and a forum for the negotiation of social relationships. [Reproduced by permission of Blackwell Publishers. Notice: The abstract is under copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.].

December 2002

Beach, Alison I. "Voices from a Distant Land: Fragments of a Twelfth-Century Nuns' Letter Collection." Speculum 77, 1 (January 2002): 34-54.

November 2002

Warren, Nancy Bradley. "Monastic Politics: St. Colette of Corbie, the Franciscans, and the House of Burgundy." New Medieval Literatures 5 (2002): 203-228.

Abstract: This article explores intersections of politics and female spirituality that characterize the histories of St. Colette of Corbie's monastic foundations and reforms, undertakings that were enmeshed in the turmoil of the papal schism, internal conflicts within the Franciscan order, and civil war in France. It examines the opposition of the Benedictine monks of Corbie to Colette's efforts to found a nunnery there and the objections of the friars of Dole to her reform movement. Both cases highlight anxieties about female authority--both religious and secular--as well as underline the importance of spiritual, symbolic profit in the religio-political sphere. The article also considers such profit in an analysis of the roles played by St. Colette and her monastic foundations in the representational strategies of the house of Burgundy, concluding that the saint and the duchy had a symbiotic relationship in which each used the resources of the other to accomplish mutually beneficial goals. [Abstract submitted to "Feminae" by the author].

October 2002

Uffmann, Heike. "Inside and Outside the Convent Walls: The Norm and Practice of Enclosure in the Reformed Nunneries of Late Medieval Germany." Medieval History Journal 4, 1 (January-June 2001): 83-108.

September 2002

Farina, Lara. "Before Affection: Christ I and the Social Erotic." Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 13, 2 (Fall 2001): 469-496.

Abstract: The literature of Anglo-Saxon England has never recommended itself as a promising archive for information about medieval sexuality. In the area of devotional literature, and especially that written in the vernacular, Anglo-Saxon texts pale in comparison with the strikingly erotic sermons, meditations, and spiritual biographies produced in the dissemination of twelfth-century "affective" piety. This article proposes that the apparent discrepancy in the sexual character of English religious writing before and after 1100 is only partially due to the earlier's paucity of sexual representation. Arguing that our assumptions about the privacy and individuality of erotic experience needlessly constrict our reading of the "sexual" in Old English texts, Farina traces the shape of a communal form of eroticism in the Anglo-Saxon liturgy. This eroticism demands a complex negotiation of the gendered spaces for devotional performance, and that negotiation, in turn, begins a longstanding and influential tradition of representing the female body as paradoxically occupied and inaccessible. [Abstract submitted to "Feminae" by the author].

August 2002

Lewis, Katherine J. "Becoming a Virgin King: Richard II and Edward the Confessor." Gender and Holiness: Men, Women, and Saints in Late Medieval Europe. Edited by Samantha J. E. Riches and Sarah Salih. Routledge, 2002. Pages 86-100.

July 2002

Kent, Francis W. "Sainted Mother, Magnificent Son: Lucrezia Tornabuoni and Lorenzo de' Medici." Italian History and Culture: Yearbook of Georgetown University at Villa Le Balze, Fiesole 3 (1997): 3-34.

June 2002

Kemp, Theresa D. "'The Knight of the Tower' and the Queen in Sanctuary: Elizabeth Woodville's Use of Meaningful Silence and Absence." New Medieval Literatures 4 (2001): 171-188.

Abstract: Upon the death of Edward IV in April 1483, a political struggle for dynastic power ensued between the newly widowed Elizabeth Woodville and her brother-in-law, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III). Drawing upon prevailing ideology requiring female obedience to male authority and prohibiting female speech, and using speeches, sermons, public letters, and government documents, the Ricardians charged Elizabeth with sedition. Rather than mount a direct counter-attack, however, Elizabeth creatively manipulated the gendered restrictions imposed upon her by engaging in meaningful acts of absence and silence - her flight into Westminster Sanctuary and her commission of "The Book of the Knight of the Tower," which William Caxton translated and published apparently at her request. This essay examines the discursive strategies Elizabeth Woodville used to defend her reputation and her life during the period between her flight into Westminster and Richard's death at Bosworth. [Abstract submitted by the author to Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index.]

May 2002

Cohen, Adam S., and Anne Derbes. "Bernward and Eve at Hildesheim." Gesta 40, 1 (2001): 19-38.

Abstract: The bronze doors of Hildesheim (ca. 1007-1015), commissioned by Bishop Bernward, are famous for their sophisticated typological program, which conveys a message about the Fall of humanity and the opposition of Eve and Mary. Divergences from the door's pictorial models indicate that the program at Hildesheim innovatively represents Eve as a sexually provocative woman. Although grounded in patristic theology, Bernward's presentation reflects contemporary clerical concerns. At the time the doors were executed, the bishop was locked in a struggle with Sophia, abbess of Gandersheim. Bernward's biographers describe her as malevolent and dissolute; the doors themselves constitute a subtle polemical argument against the dangers posed by seductive and insolent women. [Reproduced by permission of the International Center of Medieval Art.]

April 2002

Camille, Michael. "'For Our Devotion and Pleasure': The Sexual Objects of Jean, Duc de Berry." Art History 24, 2 (April 2001): 169-194.

Abstract: Jean, Duc de Berry (1340-1416), often seen as the first great "collector" in Western art, is also described by some historians as a "homosexual." This article examines the relationship between these two terms and the problematic historical evidence for the latter claim, exploring the duke's desire for things, images, and bodies in less categorical terms. The main argument is that we can best understand Jean's sexual tastes from the artworks he commissioned and in which we know from contemporary accounts he took great personal delight. Reinterpretations are provided of some well-known images, such as the January page of the unfinished "Tres Riches Heures" (1416), where the patron is pictured at the centre of a "homosocial" feast for the eyes. This manuscript, along with the marginal decoration of his "Grandes Heures," suggests his enjoyment of beautiful youthful bodies in general and of androgyny in particular. However, this has to be viewed within the very different gender system of the late fourteenth century in which women, youths and children were literally objects of male control. Only in this sense can we begin to understand how the duke's love of things intersected with his political position and power more generally. Rather than see his collecting in all its polymorphous perversity as a symptom of personal trauma, I want to view it as a socially creative and recuperative act that was part of the performance of a ruthless man of power. [Reprinted by permission of Blackwell Publishers, publishers of Art History. Notice: The abstract is under copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.]

March 2002

Kienzle, Beverly Mayne, and Nancy Nienhuis. "Battered Women and the Construction of Sanctity." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 17, 1 (Spring 2001): 33-61.

February 2002

Bryce, Judith. "Performing for Strangers: Women, Dance, and Music in Quattrocento Florence." Renaissance Quarterly 54, 4.1 (Winter 2001): 1074-1107.

Abstract: Contrary to a tradition of scholarly insistence on the invisibility of Florentine patrician women outside the domestic sphere, it can be argued such women did in effect perform a significant, public, or quasi-public, function in the negotiation of relationships between the Republic and other Italian, and European, elites. This article assembles fragmentary evidence concerning dancing and musical performance by women directed towards the entertainment of visiting notables in the second half of the Quattrocento, and uses modern concepts of gendered performance and the performance of gender to speculate on the nature of that experience for the women involved. [Reproduced by permission of the Renaissance Society of America].

January 2002

Dronzek, Anna. "Gendered Theories of Education in Fifteenth-Century Conduct Books." Medieval Conduct. Edited by Kathleen Ashley and Robert L. A. Clark. Medieval Cultures, Volume 29. University of Minnesota Press, 2001. Pages 135-159.

December 2001

Dunlop, Anne. "Masculinity, Crusading, and Devotion: Francesco Casali's Fresco in the Trecento Perugian 'Contado.'" Speculum 76, 2 (April 2001): 315-336.

Abstract: This paper centres on a 1371 fresco in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Magione near Perugia, in order to examine a particular construction of late-medieval lay masculinity. The painting shows the Virgin and Child with a figure of Eve lying at their feet and a kneeling knight at Mary's knee, here identified as Francesco Casali, ruler of the neighbouring state of Cortona, a typical minor Italian nobleman. It is argued the Magione image participated in a much larger linking of warfare, chivalry, and Christian piety, the fundamental social and gender model for Casali and his late-medieval peers. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

November 2001

Puff, Helmut. "Female Sodomy: The Trial of Katherina Hetzeldorfer (1477)." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30, 1 (Winter 2000): 41-61.

Abstract: This article investigates a court document from the late medieval German Empire. In the city of Speyer in 1477, a woman was tried for having engaged sexually with other women, the first execution for "lesbianism" known to have been carried out in medieval Europe. The criminal offense which would have been called sodomy in other contexts--a term which included female homosexual behavior--has no name in the proceedings. This lack of legal terminology notwithstanding the document itself was a receptacle of multilayered approaches to the event, by the accused, the witnesses, the authorities. The judges focused almost exclusively on the question how the accused was able to appropriate the phallus, casting "lesbian" desire in masculine terms. The author argues that historians of sexuality should replace notions of an overarching silence on same-sex behavior. Instead, this study embraces the concept of the politics of silence and focuses on the ways in which silence was effected. The publication of the original court document with a translation in English complements this article. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

October 2001

Cheyette, Frederic L. and Margaret Switten. "Women in Troubadour Song: Of the Comtessa and the Vilana." Women & Music 2 (1998): 26-45.

Abstract: Two famous Occitan songs, "A chantar m'er," by the Comtessa de Dia (fl. late 12th century), and "L'autrier jost'una sebissa," by Marcabru (fl. 1127-50), are examined to raise anew the question: when we listen to a trobairitz song, or to a song by a male troubadour with a prominent female speaker, what "feminine" voices do we hear? Recent criticism has tended to limit women's activity, arguing that troubadour song belongs to a society where women are subordinate and without any political role of their own. The article shows why this historical assumption is false; and by analysing the songs in the light of historical evidence, reintegrates them into a social setting where the language of power relations and the language of love are fused into a discourse used on equal footing by both women and men. This grants to women their own voices and allows them to make music. [Abstract submitted by Margaret Switten to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

September 2001

Bridgeman, Jane. "'Pagare le pompe': Why Quattrocento Sumptuary Laws Did Not Work." Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society. Edited by Letizia Panizza. European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford, 2000. Pages 209- 226.

Abstract: The author argues that given the very high costs for fabric, especially luxury fabrics, sumptuary laws were intended as a supplementary taxation on the wealthy. This explains Nicolosa Sanuti's outrage at Cardinal Bessarion's new sumptuary law that excommunicated the guilty parties. In her text Nicolosa emphasized how important it was for noble women to display the signs of their status, since they had no other outlets. Despite the moral and economic concerns sometimes expressed, the system was intended to give those of high status the opportunity to dress opulently by paying fines. [Abstract written by Medieval Feminist Index staff].

August 2001

Cubitt, Catherine. "Virginity and Misogyny in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century England." Gender & History 12, 1 (April 2000): 1-32.

Abstract: This article examines the ideology of virginity in the Benedictine monastic reforms in tenth- and eleventh-century England, taking as its focus the writings of Aelfric, monk, vernacular sermon-writer, and apologist for the monastic reforms. It examines his sermons and other theological writings dealing with the subject of virginity, particularly his portrayal of the female virgin martyrs of late antiquity. It argues that although the foremost icons of Christian virginity were women, Aelfric actually associated virginity with monks and in particular with those raised from infancy as child oblates within the monastery. Since virginity was seen as fundamental to the potency of the new reform movement, its association with men rather than women excluded female religious from playing a significant part in the new monasticism, which was a movement of great ecclesiastical and political power. This therefore downgraded and diminished the contribution of women to the religious life. It argues further that Aelfric instead of linking women to virginal purity saw them as sexually dangerous, and that his attitudes strengthened gender separation between men and women. Finally, it places Aelfric's thought in a wider context, showing how it can be linked to social stratification in his writings, and discusses his possible influence on policy-making in the highest political circles in tenth- and eleventh-century England. It concludes by arguing this period saw a hardening of gender roles and thus argues against one current of modern thought which is to see tenth- and eleventh-century England as a time of exceptional freedom for women. [Reproduced by permission of Blackwell Publishers who publishGender & History. Notice: The abstract is under copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.]

July 2001

Caciola, Nancy. "Mystics, Demoniacs, and the Physiology of Spirit Possession in Medieval Europe." Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, 2 (April 2000): 268-306.

Abstract: Nancy Caciola finds, in the lives of medieval women saints, that authorities disagreed about whether "inspired women" were inspired by Christ or the Devil. Medical notions of the time had it that only God can enter the heart, the Devil only the intestines; but they offered no reliable method for "the discrimination of spirits," which remained the unresolved problem of detecting female sainthood. This changed in the sixteenth century, when a calm demeanor became the sign of divine inspiration. "As the discernment of spirits became a discernment of bodies, the female body increasingly was defined as a habitation for demons, rather than a locus of indwelling divinity." Performative eccentricity and loss of control not only ceased to be routes to sainthood for women, they came to be identified with its opposite and were treated by exorcism. [Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press.]

June 2001

Bodarwé , Katrinette. "Roman Martyrs and Their Veneration in Ottonian Saxony: The Case of the 'sanctimoniales' of Essen." Early Medieval Europe 9, 3 (2000): 345-365.

Abstract: The relics of Roman martyrs played an important role in the christianisation of Saxony, and the ninth and tenth centuries saw a "second wave" of relic translations from Rome northwards across the Alps, as well as the translation of Roman relics already in Francia into Saxony. But what happened to the relics of the Roman martyrs once they were introduced into a new cultural landscape? This paper looks at the reception of Roman relics in Ottonian Saxony, focusing in particular on the female religious community at Essen. No translation accounts or historical texts are preserved from Essen, but it is possible to gain a clear overview of the relics existing there through liturgical manuscripts and inscriptions; evaluation of these sources sheds light on the mechanisms through which relics were diffused through Saxony, and on their liturgical relevance. It is also possible to investigate attitudes towards these supernatural patrons through their mention in contemporary charters and their depiction in dedication illustrations. Whilst the Roman martyrs Cosmas and Damian (whose relics had been obtained by Altfrid, Essen's ninth-century founder) were seen as the patrons of the community by those outside, the "sanctimoniales" of Essen continued to identify primarily with the Virgin Mary. Gender identification, as well as political and legal claims, therefore played an important role in the reception of the cult of the Roman martyrs in tenth-century Saxony. [Reproduced by permission of Blackwell Publishers who publish Early Medieval Europe. Notice: The abstract is under copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.]

May 2001

Finke, Laurie A., and Martin B. Shichtman. "Magical Mistress Tour: Patronage, Intellectual Property, and the Dissemination of Wealth in the 'Lais' of Marie de France." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 25, 2 (Winter 2000): 479-503.

April 2001

Green, Monica H. "The Possibilities of Literacy and the Limits of Reading: Women and the Gendering of Medical Literacy." First Publication. Women's Healthcare in the Medieval West: Texts and Contexts. Variorum Collected Studies Series. Ashgate Publishing, 2000. Article VII, pages 1-76.

Abstract: Noting that previous studies on women's literacy have up to now ignored the topic of medicine and medical writing, Green assesses evidence that women might have turned their literate skills to reading about medical science or therapy. Surveying evidence from across western Europe, Green assembles a list of forty-three women who owned medical books. She also identifies some fifty-one different texts commissioned by women or addressed to female audiences. Green finds a notable concentration of both books owned by and texts addressed to women in French-speaking areas. Overall, however, she finds women's interactions with medical literature to be infrequent and characterized by little or no engagement with medical theory. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

March 2001

Vinson, Martha P. "Gender and Politics in the Post-Iconoclastic Period: The 'Lives' of Antony the Younger, the Empress Theodora, and the Patriarch Ignatios." Byzantion: Revue Internationale des Études Byzantines 68, 2 (1998): 469-515.

Abstract: This article explores the use of hagiography as imperial propaganda in late ninth century Byzantium. Saints' lives affirming traditional gender roles for both men and women played an important part in restoring confidence in the institutions of church and state in the aftermath of the iconoclastic controversy. The new emphasis on traditional gender roles was part of a larger process of secularization which resulted in greater opportunities for Byzantine men but effectively limited women to the role of wife and mother. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

February 2001

Hairston, Julia L. "Skirting the Issue: Machiavelli's Caterina Sforza." Renaissance Quarterly 53, 3 (Autumn 2000): 687-712.

Abstract: This essay examines the creation of a notorious anecdote about a Machiavellian mother- Caterina Sforza. The adjective "Machiavellian" functions on two levels; first, Sforza often simply appears in her role as mother in Machiavelli's works; second, her behavior in this particular instance might well be characterized as "practising duplicity in statecraft." Yet if one considers the pertinent historical documents and Machiavelli's very first, although virtually forgotten, version of the events, it becomes apparent that Machiavelli "de-Machiavellizes" Caterina Sforza. The historical record offers a narrative in which Sforza provides a localized, targeted political response to undermine her children's would-be assassins. Machiavelli, however, rewrites the episode by altering Sforza's quip to her enemies and adding the audacious gesture of lifting her skirts; as a result, he creates a version in which she no longer responds to the political predicament in which she finds herself. This essay juxtaposes Machiavell's long-ignored first version of the tale with his other two more well-known prose versions and contextualizes all three in relation to contemporary sources. [Reproduced by permission of the Renaissance Society of America].

January 2001

King, Catherine. "Women as Patrons: Nuns, Widows, and Rulers." Siena, Florence, and Padua: Art, Society, and Religion 1280-1400. Volume II: Case Studies. Edited by Diana Norman. Yale University Press, 1995. Pages 242-266, 277-278.

Abstract: The chapter/paper suggests ways of exploring the buying powers of women of different religious and class status in fourteenth-century Italy. How did the marital status of the woman affect her ability to commission - the spinster, wife, or widow ? How would her marital status interact with her class position to offer her more or less scope in controlling the designs of paintings, sculptures or buildings. Here I am thinking of the differences between the patronage of a ruler, a consort of a ruler, one of their subjects or a member of a leading family in a republican society. How can we characterise the commissioning of women who had chosen a religious life - and within this group, how might expectations as to how art might be used differ also ? Looking at art bought by women allows us to begin to think about how the 'feminine' was positioned as a viewer in a male regime of spectatorship and how women might exert some control to make themselves , unusually, privileged viewers. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

December 2000

Killerby, Catherine Kovesi. "'Heralds of a Well-Instructed Mind': Nicolosa Sanuti's Defence of Women and Their Clothes." Renaissance Studies 13, 3 (September 1999): 255-282.

November 2000

Byrne, Joseph P., and Eleanor A. Congdon. "Mothering in the Casa Datini." Journal of Medieval History 25, 1 (March 1999): 35-56.

Abstract: The Datini archive in Prato, Italy, provides much detailed information about mothers and children in a merchant-class household of late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century Tuscany. Over some thirty years the childless Margherita Datini supervised and cared for children of friends, relatives and business associates, and her husband's illegitimate daughter. Letters, household financial records, and Datini's business ledgers reveal many aspects of the lives of Margherita - as surrogate mother - and the children. The data show a fluid environment overseen by a strong-willed and caring mistress. [[Reprinted from the Journal of Medieval History (at http://www.elsevier.nl/locate/jmedhist), Vol. 25, No. 1, Byrne, Joseph P. and Eleanor A. Congdon, "Mothering in the Casa Datini," p.35, 1999, with permission from Elsevier Science].

October 2000

Wolfthal, Diane. "'Douleur sur toutes autres': Revisualizing the Rape Script in the 'Epistre Othea' and the 'Cité des dames.'" In Christine de Pizan and the Categories of Difference. Edited by Marilynn Desmond. University of Minnesota Press, 1998. Pages 41-70.

Abstract: This essay, which also forms a chapter in Wolfthal's book on "Images of Rape," explores Christine de Pizan's conception of rape, especially through the images of rape in manuscript versions of her "Epistre Othea." It examines Christine's interpretation of the nature and "proper" response to rape by exploring how her work negotiates the web of social and economic contexts in which she lived as a woman who was simultaneously a widow lacking the protection of a man, a resistant female reader of misogynist texts, a participant in the cultural production of the Valois courts, and a worker in the Parisian book trade. Christine, who termed rape "the greatest possible sorrow," was one of several contemporary women who both decried rape and devised strategies to combat it. Christine's voice served, at least for a moment, to disrupt the rape script that constructed women as powerless victims of male sexual aggression. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

September 2000

Botticini, Maristella. "A Loveless Economy? Intergenerational Altruism and the Marriage Market in a Tuscan Town, 1415-1436." Journal of Economic History 59, 1 (March 1999): 104-121.

Abstract: This article examines the role of dowries and highlights the variables that affected the size of dowries in fifteenth-century Tuscany. The estimation, which matches the households found in the marriage contracts with the corresponding households in the Florentine Catasto of 1427, offers support for the present net value hypothesis and for the altruism model. Results indicate a positive correlation between a bride's dowry size and her age when used as proxy for her contribution to the marital household. Parents also provided their daughters with larger dowries when they married "down" into relatively less wealthy or socially prominent households. [Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press.]

August 2000

Smith, Kathryn A. "The Neville of Hornby Hours and the Design of Literate Devotion." Art Bulletin 81, 1 (March 1999): 72-92.

Abstract: This study analyzes image-text relationships in an illustrated vernacular devotional work, the Anglo-French "Complaint of Our Lady/Gospel of Nicodemus," part of a profusely illuminated book of hours commissioned about 1335-40 by a female member of the English Gentry. It is argued that certain features of the manuscript's design and illustration structured and enhanced the religious experience of the "devotionally literate" reader. Further, the study suggests how the patron might have used this illustrated text to educate her daughter in the fundamentals of literate devotion. [Reproduced by Permission of the College Art Association.]

July 2000

Copeland, Rita. "Why Women Can't Read: Medieval Hermeneutics, Statutory Law, and the Lollard Heresy Trials." In Representing Women: Law, Literature, and Feminism. Edited by Susan Sage Heinzelman and Zipporah Batshaw Wiseman. Duke University Press, 1994. Pages 253-285.

Abstract: This article deals with the material historical consequences of the long-lived clerical discourse that feminine reading is a carnal, fleshly, reading that substitutes the letter for the spirit. The article looks at how women readers were regarded by prosecutors of the Lollard heresy, and in particular at one remarkable female "reader," Margery Baxter of Norwich. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

June 2000

Mews, Constant J. "Philosophical Themes in the 'Epistolae Duorum Amantium': The First Letters of Heloise and Abelard." In Listening to Heloise: The Voice of a Twelfth-Century Woman. Edited by Bonnie Wheeler. St. Martin's Press, 2000. Pages 35-52.

Abstract: In this article, I examine philosophical themes within a collection of one hundred and thirteen anonymous love letters, edited by Ewald Könsgen in "Epistolae Duorum Amantium. Briefe Abaelards und Heloises?" (Leiden: Brill, 1974) from a fifteenth-century manuscript of Clairvaux. They reproduce a dialogue between a famous teacher and a gifted female student of philosophy. While Könsgen argued that the manuscript preserved excerpts from authentic letters from the twelfth century, he went no further than saying that they were written by a couple "like Abelard and Heloise." I argue that the theory of love developed by the female student, more sophisticated than that of her teacher, is that of Heloise, while the man's philosophical vocabulary is that of the young Abelard. The love letters explain many features of their more celebrated correspondence. I pursue these arguments more fully in "The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard: Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France" (New York: St Martin's Press, 1999). [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

May 2000

Carrasco, Magdalena Elizabeth. "The Imagery of the Magdalen in Christina of Markyate's Psalter (St. Albans Psalter)." Gesta 38, 1 (1999). Pages 67-80.

Abstract: The St. Albans Psalter, one of the masterpieces of English Romanesque painting, includes in its prefatory cycle two paintings featuring Mary Magdalen: Christ in the house of Simon, with the Magdalen at the feet of Christ, and Mary Magdalen announcing the resurrection to the apostles. The latter is so rare as to be almost unique, while the former is relatively more familiar but still unusual in the context of psalter illustration. These images can be interpreted in relation to the recluse and nun, Christina of Markyate, for whom the Psalter appears to have been made, and in terms of the large body of writing devoted to the Magdalen in this period. As evidenced in contemporary devotional literature, including the prayers of St. Anselm (1033-1109) and the "De institutione inclusarum" of Aelred of Rievaulx (ca. 1100-1167), the growth in the cult of the Magdalen was closely linked with a new emphasis on affective piety. In early medieval exegesis. the Magdalen is interpreted allegorically as the type of the church or as the model of the contemplative life; by the later middle ages, she had become an intimately personal moral exemplar and a directly accessible patroness. The Magdalen images in the St. Albans Psalter, and Christina of Markyate herself, exemplify the transformation of the Magdalen into a personal model of the spiritual life. This transformation was itself part of a larger shift toward a more intimate and emotional spirituality, a shift in which women played a significant role and which transformed traditional assumptions concerning the nature and use of visual images in religious observance. [Reproduced by permission of the International Center of Medieval Art.]

April 2000

Schulenburg, Jane Tibbetts. "Gender, Celibacy, and Proscriptions of Sacred Space: Symbol and Practice." In Medieval Purity and Piety: Essays on Medieval Clerical Celibacy and Religious Reform. Edited by Michael Frassetto. Garland Publishing, 1998. Pages 353-376.

March 2000

Burns, E. Jane. "Speculum of the Courtly Lady: Women, Love, and Clothes." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 29, 2 (Spring 1999). Pages 253-292.

Abstract: This essay offers a reassessment of courtly love in the French and Occitan traditions by "reading through the clothes" of female protagonists in lyric and romance texts from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Providing evidence to counter the reigning courtly topoi of male desire figured as Narcissus and Pygmalion, it argues that alternative patterns of desire and subjectivity exist for courtly female protagonists and that those patterns are often expressed through clothes. The article thus proposes an alternative to medieval readings of women's adornment as deceitful and destructive, revealing instead how women can deploy clothing in various ways to define an independent social position within the confines of courtly love. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

February 2000

Stafford, Pauline. "Queens, Nunneries, and Reforming Churchmen: Gender, Religious Status, and Reform in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century England." Past and Present: A Journal of Historical Studies 163 (May 1999). Pages 3-35.

Abstract: The paper deals with a period of ecclesiastical reform in England, the tenth and eleventh centuries, and with the implications of this for two groups of women, queens and nuns. Queens and nunneries were themselves connected via personnel, and royal control of and involvement in religious houses. 'Reform' is seen as significant for gender definition, concerned as it was with purity [and thus the definition of women as impure] and also with monasticism as an ideal [and thus with virginity and its more complex possibilities of freedom and regendering of women]. It was undertaken with royal backing, which drew reformers into close relations with king and queen at the same time as their control of religious houses became problematic for a reform movement which defined lay control as unacceptable. The royalty of the queen was thus stressed, and the reform movement played its part in promoting the status of English queens. At the same time reform in the short term offered to some women the positive aspects of virginity, possibilities seized upon especially by the larger female houses, which used it in some cases to move towards greater autonomy vis a vis the queen. Stress is laid, however, on the historical specificity of such relations between queen and religious houses, and the extent to which they were played out not merely in the context of reform but also in that of royal family politics. The paper urges that blanket generalisations about the impact of 'reform' on 'women' should be nuanced by an appreciation of the different messages of reform, the different stages of its unfolding and the different groups of women on whom it impacted. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

January 2000

Berman, Constance H. "Were There Twelfth-Century Cistercian Nuns?" Church History: Studies in Christianity & Culture 68, 4 (December 1999). Pages 824-864.

Abstract: Cistercians have generally been thought to have only admitted women into their order in the late twelfth century under considerable outside pressure. This view has posited a twelfth-century Gold Age when abbots of the Order totally avoided contact with women. Only later did the flood-gates burst open and a great wave of women wishing to be Cistercians flood over the Order powerless to resist it. This paper reassesses narrative accounts, juridical arguments and charter evidence to show that such assertions of the absence of twelfth-century Cistercians nuns are incorrect--based on incorrect notions of how the early Cistercian Order developed and a biased reading of the evidence, including a double-standard of proof of Cistercian status, made much higher for women's houses than for men's. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

December 1999

Livingstone, Amy. "Aristocratic Women in the Chartrain." In Aristocratic Women in Medieval France. Edited by Theodore Evergates. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Pages 44-73.

Abstract: The prominent medieval scholar, Georges Duby, characterized the medieval world as the "male" middle ages - a description that scholars have readily adopted. This essay challenges this interpretation. Based on charter evidence from the west of France, this essay demonstrates that aristocratic women were extremely important members of both their society and family. Aristocratic daughters, wives and widows, participated in the full range of familial and lordly activities, including adjudication, litigation, inheritance and lordship. The lives that are recoverable from these documents prove that women were vital participants in their families, in the world of lords and vassals, and were important allies for the church. The experience of the elite women of the Chartrain demonstrates the prominence that many women enjoyed in the society of eleventh and twelfth-century France. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

November 1999

Caviness, Madeline H. "Anchoress, Abbess. and Queen: Donors and Patrons or Intercessors and Matrons?" In The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women. Edited by June Hall McCash. University of Georgia Press, 1996. Pages 105-154.

Abstract: Madeline Caviness reflects here on the complex relationships that existed in the Middle Ages between the production of art objects and their first owners. Although it appears that works were normally commissioned, the patron's control was seldom absolute, and many of the books used by women were given to them by men. Case studies are presented that demonstrate a variety of women's roles as patrons, sponsors, donors, recipients, or users; representations of kneeling women cannot be interpreted as donor figures unless we can prove they controlled the means of production. The twelfth century Psalter that belonged to Christina of Markyate was probably made, but with her in mind, in the men's Benedictine house at Saint Albans. Its male-to-male discourse is seen to inscribe the symbiosis of male and female monastic ideals that dictated Christina's life as a disciple of the hermit Roger. When women were also authors -- as in the case of the Hortus Deliciarum manuscript produced by the Abbess Herrad of Landsberg, and Hildegard of Bingen's lost illuminated Scivias manuscript -- they were freer of patriarchal control, especially in designing these books for in-house use by nuns. By 1200, when leadership in education shifted to the cathedral schools which excluded women, queens, dowagers, and heiresses were more likely than abbesses to patronize the arts. Donations to churches of works from Anglo-Saxon women were frequently documented, and two queens who held land in their own right, Cnut's Norman wife Emma and Eleanor of Aquitaine when she was married to Henry II of England, are represented on the honored dexter side of their offering, taking precedence over their husbands. Agnes of Braine made gifts from her hereditary lands to endow a large Premonstratensian church next to her castle, in which she and her sons were buried. Such benefactors were mentioned in the prayers of the church, and their named representations in the windows would have served to preserve their memory. Yet churchmen became critical of such displays later in the thirteenth century, and also encouraged women to stay home and read their prayer books. Thus by the fourteenth century women became subject to the very works that were made "for" them. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

October 1999

Newman, Barbara. "WomanSpirit, Woman Pope." In From Virile Woman to WomanChrist: Studies in Medieval Religion and Literature. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995.

Abstract: This essay investigates the little-known history of the Guglielmites, a small heretical sect that flourished in Milan in the last two decades of the thirteenth century._ The Guglielmites, whose membership probably never surpassed 100, were primarily laypersons._ Their social status ran the gamut from Galeazzo Visconti, the prince's son, to a poor unmarried seamstress._ Female members outnumbered men by about three to two; a number of the women were Umiliati sisters of the convent at Biassono._ The sectarians were united by their devotion to St. Guglielma of Milan (d. 1281), a local holy woman who had acquired a reputation as a charismatic healer and miracle-worker._ Apparently an oblate of the Cistercian abbey of Chiaravalle, Guglielma was buried there after her death,_ and her tomb became the center of a growing saint cult encouraged by the monks._ But the Guglielmites, unlike the holy woman's other devotees, taught in secret that Guglielma was none other than the Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, who became incarnate upon annunciation by the angel Raphael, was born on the feast of Pentecost, and was destined to rise again like Christ and found a new Church with a female Pope._ Under this new and inclusive regime, all Jews and Saracens would be saved, and the redemption of the world would be completed._ The sect's chief theologian, a layman named Andrea Saramita, and other sectarians composed new Scriptures in honor of Guglielma, along with hymns to the Holy Spirit embodied in her person; these Scriptures were to comprise a third testament that would supersede the New Testament in a typological relation, much as the New had superseded the Old._ At the height of the sect's popularity, several paintings of the Holy Spirit in the guise of St. Guglielma could be found in various churches of Milan._ The Guglielmites' liturgical leader was another woman, Maifreda da Pirovano, a sister of Biassono._ Members granted her the title of "la Papessa," or Popess, and paid her high honors._ Her priestly duties culminated in a solemn mass which she celebrated secretly on Easter 1300, the year of the jubilee, for twelve chosen disciples--six men and six women._ Shortly afterward, the sect came to the attention of inquisitors (not for the first time), and after a brief but intense period of interrogation, several of the principals were apparently condemned to the stake as relapsed heretics._ The Guglielmites' theology, known to us only from inquisitorial records, was heavenly influenced by Joachite ideas of the coming "third status" of the Holy Spirit._ But the Spiritual Franciscans had no belief in the femininity of the Holy Spirit, and they were no less male-dominated than the mainstream church hierarchy that persecuted them._ Only one other woman--Na Prous Boneta, a Spiritual Franciscan arrested in Carcassonne in 1325 and later burnt as a "heretic and heresiarch"--appears to have held similar views._ She believed that she was the donatrix of the Holy Spirit just as Mary had been the donatrix of the Word, and taught that no one could be saved unless they believed her words and those of Peter John Olivi, the Franciscan prophet, with whom she claimed to be "one spirit."_ This essay examines the beliefs of the Guglielmites and the near-contemporary teaching of Na Prous in light of a perennial underground current within Christianity, beginning with the Montanist movement of the second century and continuing through the 19th-century Shakers and beyond._ This alternative, sectarian form of Christianity centers on the closely intertwined motifs of a feminine manifestation of deity, female charismatic leadership, gender complementarity, and the fulfillment of millennial hopes._ The essay argues both diachronically and synchronically, examining the history of these beliefs as well as the reasons they may have taken the particular medieval forms that we find in the doctrines of the Guglielmites and of Na Prous Boneta. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

September 1999

Scott, Karen. "Mystical Death, Bodily Death: Catherine of Siena and Raymond of Capua on the Mystic's Encounter with God." In Gendered Voices: Medieval Saints and Their Interpreters. Edited by Catherine M. Mooney. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Pages 136-167.

Abstract: This essay examines two kinds of sources for the life and thought of Catherine of Siena (1347-1380): the writings she dictated in Italian (her letters, the "Dialogo," and her prayers); and Raymond of Capua's "Legenda Major," a long hagiographical text composed some fifteen years after her death to promote her canonization. After assessing how various scholarly uses of these sources might create different images of Catherine as a female mystic or apostle, this study focuses on one rare instance in which both authors wrote about the same event, an incident of mystical death that occurred near the end of Catherine's life, when she was in Rome attempting to end the Western Schism. Though there are interesting convergences between the two narratives, the "Legenda" version was shaped by a view of female mysticism that emphasized supernaturally-induced somatic suffering, and this differed significantly from Catherine's more ordinary, apostolic, and hopeful emphasis. While Raymond's account is instructive about her fame as a holy woman after her death, Catherine's own words should be considered the privileged source for her thought and life. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

August 1999

Jewers, Caroline. "Reading and Righting: Issues of Value and Gender in Early Women Poets." Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 10, 1 (Spring 1998): 97-121.

Abstract: This study analyzes the concept of value in the lyric poems of the Comtessa de Dia, one of the best known "trobairitz" of medieval Occitania. It argues, through close reading of the language of her cansos, that she encodes a network of imagery pertaining to her sense of her own value in her poems, and by extension explores the status of woman as desiring subject within a lyric system of courtly love that problematized that position. Jewers frames her discussion by looking at how critics too have sometimes fallen into a gender-biased and political trap when assessing women's lyric poetry, and established systems of value that have underprivileged our assessment of such works. She compares their fortunes to those of women artists. Other poets and performers mentioned include Corinna, Sulpicia, and the Gorilla Girls. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

July 1999

McNamara, Jo Ann. "The 'Herrenfrage': The Restructuring of the Gender System, 1050-1150." In Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages. Edited by Clare A. Lees with the assistance of Thelma Fenster and Jo Ann McNamara. Medieval Cultures, Volume 7. University of Minnesota Press, 1994. Pages 3-29.

Abstract: Between 1050 and 1150, led by a "reformed" church, European civilization passed through a critical stage of development to form the patterns and institutions that have characterized it ever since. The gender system of the first millennium had been basically syneisactic. Though universally viewed as inferior to men, women had acted as their helpers and even surrogates in every area of life. In the second, women would be systematically excluded from institutions and professions formed and occupied by the celibate clergy. An intense campaign of misogyny helped segregate women from most areas of public life and condemned the men who cooperated with them as heretics. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

June 1999

Elliott, Dyan. "Dominae or Dominatae? Female Mysticism and the Trauma of Textuality." In Women, Marriage, and Family in Medieval Christendon: Essays in Memory of Michael M. Sheehan, C.S.B. Edited by Constance M. Rousseau and Joel T. Rosenthal. Western Michigan University, 1998. Pages 47-77.

Abstract: This article examines the dynamics between the confessor/amanuensis and his female charge -- the illiterate holy woman. It focuses primarily on hagiographical materials, but also includes forays into theological treatises on spiritual discernment. While addressing concrete questions, such as how the process of redaction was undertaken in specific cases, it also examines more abstract problems, such as how revelations were authenticated. These issues are, in turn, used to illuminate the tantalizing question of where the power ultimately resides in these relations. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

May 1999

Schibanoff, Susan. "Botticelli's 'Madonna del Magnificat': Constructing the Woman Writer in Early Humanist Italy." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 109, 2 (March 1994): 190-206.

Abstract: While Botticelli's unusual figuration of the Virgin as writer in his "Madonna del Magnificat" (c. 1483) testifies to an important event in literary history- the appearance of the woman author in quattrocento northern Italy- it also testifies against her, employing a pictorial equivalent of the humanists' "rhetoric of impossibility," which construes the female writer as a miraculous, hence ephemeral, phenomenon. At the same time, however, Botticelli's painting reveals the emergence of a competing imperative in the late quattrocento Latin and vernacular defenses of women by Laura Cereta, Bartolomeo Goggio, and others: the construction of the woman writer as ordinary, thus "possible." [Reproduced by permission of the Modern Language Association of America.]

April 1999

French, Katherine L. "Maidens' Lights and Wives' Stores: Women's Parish Guilds in Late Medieval England." Sixteenth Century Journal: The Journal of Early Modern Studies 29, 2 (Summer 1998): 399-425.

Abstract: The dynamism of the late medieval English parish found some of its expression in new roles and opportunities for women. Churchwardens' accounts show a late fifteenth-century increase in the number and variety of parish activities carried out by women in all-women groups. Parish guilds for married women and single women became a part of communal religious practice, and a means of expressing religious concerns particular to women. Within these groups women organized, raised funds, socialized and worshiped. These new roles gave women visibility and leadership opportunities, but also paradoxically affirmed and reinforced what were deemed to be appropriate female behavior and interests. [Reproduced by permission of the Sixteenth Century Journal publishers.]

March 1999

Neff, Amy. "The Pain of 'Compassio': Mary's Labor at the Foot of the Cross." Art Bulletin 80, 2 (June 1998): 254-273.

Abstract: The Virgin Mary's Swoon at the Crucifixion has been recognized as a visualization of the doctrine of "compassio": Mary shares Christ's suffering. She is thus able to help in Christ's work of redemption. Yet images and texts from the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries attest to another profound meaning of the Swoon. As Mary collapses, she is in labor. Images of the Swoon can be related to an antique iconography of childbirth and to birthing practice in contemporary society. As mother of the Savior and of all mankind in salvation, Mary on Calvary becomes mankind's loving protector and intercessor. [Reproduced by permission of the College Art Association.]

February 1999

Lansing, Carol. "Gender and Civic Authority: Sexual Control in a Medieval Italian Town." Journal of Social History 31, 1 (Fall 1997): 33-59.

Abstract: This study uses judicial sentences for adultery to examine the influence of gendered understandings of political order on late medieval Italian state formation. From the thirteenth century, town councils sought to use the courts to control behavior, including sexual morality. The article first explores normative legislation. Lawmakers, influenced by Christian preaching on original sin, believed that disorder in society resulted from concupiscence, disordered desire. They were also reacting to social change and the presence in the towns of large numbers of poor women who were not clearly under patriarchal control and despite other constraints had freedom of movement and considerable agency. The second half of the article turns to practice. Judicial inquests and sentences for adultery in the town of Orvieto suggest that lawmakers also feared concupiscence because of their experience of genuine threats to authority, more than because of disorderly sexual relations between men and women. [Reproduced by permission of Carnegie Mellon University.]

January 1999

Farmer, Sharon. "Down and Out and Female in Thirteenth-Century Paris." American Historical Review 103,2 (April 1998): 344-372.

Abstract: In "Down and Out and Female in Thirteenth-Century Paris" Sharon Farmer draws on miracle stories, and a variety of other sources, to enhance our understanding of the day-to-day survival of medieval poor women. She argues that poor women survived long-term disability with varying combinations of assistance from family members, charitable institutions, employers, neighbors, close companions, and informal alms. Farmer reveals that women received less assistance from craft guilds than did men, but that employers sometimes assisted both their male and female employees during episodes of prolonged illness or disability. She also surmises that single women were more likely to assist each other through hard times than were single men. Indeed, Farmer argues that, among the working poor, married women did not necessarily fare better than did single women when faced with an inability to work. Farmer's imaginative use of the miracle stories demonstrates that charity often occured in horizontal, rather than vertical, relationships, and that medieval poverty was highly gendered. In the conclusion to her article she attempts to explain why, despite the "microhistorical turn" that took place among social historians in the 1970s, her sources have never before been used to illuminate the social networks of the poor. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

December 1998

Otter, Monika. "The Temptation of St AEthelthryth." Exemplaria 9, 1 (Spring 1997): 139-163

Abstract: Using the example of the shrine of St. AEthelthryth at Ely, the author explores how the cult of local saints is inflected by gender. The shrine of St. AEthelthryth, a closed marble sarcophagus with an inviting but forbidden hole in it, demonstrates the paradoxes of the cult of a female saint in male surroundings, as an object of veneration but also desire and temptation. The imagery and rhetoric used by the twelfth-century Liber Eliensis is compared to the contemporary language of anchoritism and enclosure of nuns. The all-male Ely community has inherited the shrine and cult from an older Anglo-Saxon mixed-gender community. The way in which the twelfth century texts deal with this legacy also reflects historical changes in religious gender politics. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]

November 1998

Bennett, Judith. M. "Confronting Continuity." Journal of Women's History 9,3 (Autumn 1997): 73-94.

Abstract: This exploratory essay shows how attention to long-term continuities in the status of women can create new interpretive possibilities for women's history. These continuities suggest a "patriarchal equilibrium" that has worked to maintain the status of European women in times of political, social, and economic change. This essay suggests a critical distinction between "change" in women's experiences and "transformation" in women's status, and it illustrates how historians of women have often confused one for the other. Arguing that narratives of transformation are unduly dominant in women's history, this essay then analyzes four factors that have promoted this dominance. This essay uses European history to frame its discussion but suggests that its conclusions might be applicable beyond Europe. The essay closes with an example, taken from the history of women in the English brewing industry, of how the concept of patriarchal equilibrium opens new and productive questions. [Reproduced by permission of Indiana University Press].

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