Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Translation of the Month

December 2018 [Posted December 2019]

Elmeligi, Wessam. The Poetry of Arab Women from the Pre-Islamic Age to Andalusia. Routledge, 2019. ISBN 9781138323575 (hbk) and 9780429451317 (ebk).

Woman (Gaia?) holding a basket of fruit
Woman (Gaia?) holding a basket of fruit, Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi, Syria, border of a floor fresco, Umayyad, circa 730, Musée National de Damascus (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"This critical anthology presents the poems of more than 200 Arabic women poets active from the 600s through the 1400s CE. It marks the first appearance in English translation for many of these poems. The volume includes biographical information about the poets, as well as an analysis of the development of women’s poetry in classical Arabic literature that places the women and the poems within their cultural context. The book fills a noticeable void in modern English-language scholarship on Arabic women, and has important implications for the fields of world and Arabic literature as well as gender and women’s studies. "—Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

September 2018 [Posted July 2019]

The Works of Gwerful Mechain. Translated and edited by Katie Gramich. Broadview Press, 2018. ISBN 9781554814145.

Virgin Mary in an Annunciation scene
Virgin Mary in an Annunciation scene, The Llanbeblig Hours, London, National Library of Wales, NLW MS 17520A, fol. 2r. Circa 1390-1400 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"Gwerful Mechain is the only Welsh female poet from the late middle ages whose poems have survived as a substantial body of work. One of the most immediately striking characteristics of her poetry is the easy coexistence in her oeuvre of devotional and erotic works. Even to those who may be familiar with the bawdiness of Chaucer or Boccaccio, Gwerful's work is remarkably direct. Yet, as the introduction discusses, some sorts of coexistence of the erotic and the religious were not entirely untypical of medieval literary production in Wales; overall, indeed, one of the most important characteristics of Gwerful's work is the degree to which it takes its place in the mainstream of medieval Welsh poetry. Her themes and techniques do not position her as a marginal or isolated figure, participating in some putative female sub-culture; on the contrary, she engages in poetic dialogues with her male contemporaries, using the same forms, tropes, and vocabulary as they do. Yet, she often speaks with a female voice and overtly sees things from a woman's point of view, taking her peers to task for their male arrogance. She jousts with them verbally as their equal, confident in her own craft and opinions.

All of Gwerful's known work is included here-as are several poems of uncertain authorship, and a number of other works that help to fill in the historical and literary context. A unique feature of the volume is the provision, for each work of medieval Welsh poetry included, of two different translations. The first, a literal translation, is presented in facing page format opposite the original Welsh; a second, freer translation, with rhyme patterns approximating those of the original, follows."—Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

May 2018 [Posted June 2019]

Mary Magdalene and Her Sister Martha: An Edition and Translation of the Medieval Welsh Lives. By Jane Cartwright. Catholic University of America Press, 2013. ISBN 9780813221885.

Mary Magdalene and Christ after his Resurrection
Mary Magdalene and Christ after his Resurrection (Noli me tangere), Queen Mary Psalter, London, British Library, Royal 2 B VII, fol. 300v, England, circa 1310-1320 (Source: British Library, public domain)

"Mary Magdalene and Her Sister Martha: An Edition and Translation of the Medieval Welsh Lives provides scholarly editions and English translations of the medieval Welsh versions of the legends of Mary Magdalene and Martha. Described by Victor Saxer as medieval best sellers, these hagiographical tales, which described how Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha survived a perilous sea voyage from the holy land and evangelized Provence, were available in many different Latin and vernacular versions and circulated widely in the medieval West. The texts were translated or adapted into Middle Welsh some time before the mid-fourteenth century: the Middle Welsh Life of Mary Magdalene is extant in thirteen manuscripts and the Middle Welsh Life of Martha is preserved in eight of the same manuscripts.

Jane Cartwright makes the Middle Welsh versions available to an international audience for the first time and provides a detailed study of the Welsh manuscripts that contain the texts, a comparison between the different manuscripts versions and a discussion of the wider hagiographical context of the texts in Wales. The volume includes transcriptions, editions and translations of the two Lives based on the oldest most complete extant versions found in the Red Book of Talgarth c. 1400, as well as an additional section of text describing Mary Magdalene’s life before Christ’s crucifixion from the fifteenth-century Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, Peniarth MS 27ii. The edition is accompanied by a comprehensive glossary which provides translations of all medieval Welsh words that occur in the texts, an analysis of the development and transmission of the legends, as well as a discussion of the relevance and popularity of these two female saints in late medieval Wales: medieval Welsh poetry, church dedications, and holy wells are also considered."—Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

April 2018 [Posted April 2019]

Hermits and Anchorites in England, 1200-1550. Translated and edited by E. A. Jones. Manchester Medieval Sources Series. Manchester University Press, 2019. ISBN 9781526127235.

An anchoress receives a blessing from a bishop.
An anchoress receives a blessing from a bishop. Pontifical, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, Parker Library, MS 079, fol. 72r, England, circa 1400-1410 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"This source book offers a comprehensive treatment of solitary religious lives in England in the late Middle Ages. It covers both enclosed recluses (anchorites) and free-wandering hermits, and explores the relationship between them. Although there has been a recent surge of interest in the solitary vocations, especially anchorites, this has focused almost exclusively on a small number of examples. The field is in need of reinvigoration, and this book provides it. Featuring translated extracts from a wide range of Latin, Middle English and Old French sources, as well as a scholarly introduction and commentary from one of the foremost experts in the field, Hermits and Anchorites in England is an invaluable resource for students and lecturers alike."—Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

March 2018 [Posted March 2019]

Noble Society: Five Lives from Twelfth-Century Germany. Translated and annotated by Jonathan R. Lyon. Manchester Medieval Sources Series. Manchester University Press, 2017. ISBN 9780719091025.

An initial letter D with a self-portrait by the nun Guda.
An initial letter D with a self-portrait by the nun Guda. Homilary of Guda, Frankfurt, Staats- und Universitäts-bibliothek, MS Barth 42, fol. 110v, circa 1250-1300 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"This book provides scholars and students alike with a set of texts that can deepen their understanding of the culture and society of the twelfth-century German kingdom. The sources translated here bring to life the activities of five noblemen and noblewomen from Rome to the Baltic coast and from the Rhine River to the Alpine valleys of Austria. To read these five sources together is to appreciate how interconnected political, military, economic, religious and spiritual interests could be for some of the leading members of medieval German society-and for the authors who wrote about them. Whether fighting for the emperor in Italy, bringing Christianity to pagans in what is today northern Poland, or founding, reforming and governing monastic communities in the heartland of the German kingdom, the subjects of these texts call attention to some of the many ways that noble life shaped the world of central medieval Europe."—Description reproduced from the publisher's website. The book includes:

  • "The Life of an Unnamed Magistra of Admont" and
  • "The Life of Mechthild of Diessen" (d. 1160) by Engelhard of Langheim

February 2018 [Posted January 2019]

Hildegard of Bingen. The Book of Divine Works. Translated by Nathaniel M. Campbell. The Fathers of the Church: Mediaeval Continuation, Volume 18. Catholic University of America Press, 2018. ISBN 9780813231297.

Title page from La nef des dames vertueuses
The Cosmic Sphere and Human Being with Hildegard receiving the vision from Liber Divinorum Operum, Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942, fol. 9r, circa 1210-1230 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"Declared a Doctor of the Church in 2012, St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is one of the most remarkable figures of medieval Latin Christianity. A visionary theologian and prophetic reformer, as well as composer, artist, and natural scientist, her voice echoes across the centuries to offer today an integrated vision of the relationship between cosmos and humanity.

Completed in 1173, The Book of Divine Works (Liber Divinorum Operum) is the culmination of the Visionary Doctor's theological project, offered here for the first time in a complete and scholarly English translation. The first part explores the intricate physical and spiritual relationships between the cosmos and the human person, with the famous image of the universal Man standing astride the cosmic spheres. The second part examines the rewards for virtue and the punishments for vice, mapped onto a geography of purgatory, hellmouth, and the road to the heavenly city. At the end of each Hildegard writes extensive commentaries on the Prologue to John's Gospel (Part 1) and the first chapter of Genesis (Part 2)—the only premodern woman to have done so. Finally, the third part tells the history of salvation, imagined as the City of God standing next to the mountain of God's foreknowledge, with Divine Love reigning over all.

For Hildegard, the Incarnation is the key moment of all history, willed from eternity to complete God's Work. God's creative capacity and loving mission are thus shared with the humans he made in his image and likeness—for Hildegard, the incarnate Christ's tunic and the Word's creative rationality, respectively. Containing all creation within ourselves, we are divinely called to cooperate in the Creator's work, to enter into a fruitful and sustainable relationship with creation. The scope of Hildegard's visionary theology is both cosmic and close—reflections of God's loving self-revelation are both grand and utterly intimate, as the Work of God reaches from the very heart of infinity down into every smallest detail of the created world. "—Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

December 2017 [Posted December 2018]

Champier, Symphorien. The Ship of Virtuous Ladies. Edited and translated by Todd W. Reeser. The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 61. Iter Press and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2018. ISBN 9780866985857.

Title page from La nef des dames vertueuses
Symphorien Champier, Title page from La nef des dames vertueuses, 1503. (Source: Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France/Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, public domain)

"First published in 1503 in Lyons, Symphorien Champier's The Ship of Virtuous Ladies helped launch the French Renaissance version of the querelle des femmes, the debate over the nature and status of women. The three books included in this edition include arguments for gender equality, and a catalogue of virtuous women modeled on Boccaccio’s Famous Women and Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend. Titled “The Book of True Love,” book 4 is especially important in gender history, importing and transforming the male-centered Neoplatonic philosophy of Marsilio Ficino for pro-woman ends." - Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

November 2017 [Posted November 2018]

Legenda vetus, Acta processus canonizationis, et Miracula Sanctae Margaritae de Hungaria = The Oldest Legend, Acts of the Canonization Process, and Miracles of Saint Margaret of Hungary. Edited by Ildikó Csepregi, Gábor Klaniczay and Bence Péterfi. Translated by Ildikó Csepregi, Clifford Flanigan and Louis Perraud. Central European University Press, 2018. ISBN 9789633862186.

Simone Martini, Female saint identified by some scholars as Saint Margaret of Hungary
Simone Martini, Female saint identified by some scholars as Saint Margaret of Hungary, circa 1330, Assisi, Lower Basilica of Saint Francis (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"This bilingual volume (Latin text with English translation) is the second in the series presenting hagiographical narratives from medieval Central Europe. It contains the most important hagiographical corpus of medieval Hungarian history: that of Saint Margaret (1242–1270), daughter of King Béla IV, who lived her life as a Dominican nun. Margaret's cult started immediately after her death and the demand to examine her sanctity was first formulated in 1272. The canonization process recommenced in 1276, followed by further initiatives across the centuries. Margaret was eventually canonized only in 1943.

Besides the full Latin text and the English translation of her oldest legend, written between 1272 and 1275, this volume contains the acts of the 110 testimonies of the papal investigation concerning her sainthood, recorded between July and October 1276 and prepared from existing source editions. In addition, the editors include a series of recently discovered documents, including a petition by the bishop of Várad (Oradea) to promote the cause, and the notarial records of a set of miracles that occurred at Margaret's grave in the second half of the fifteenth century.

The book ends with a selected bibliography of Saint Margaret and of her hagiography."—Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

October 2017 [Posted October 2018]

McNamer, Sarah. Meditations on the Life of Christ: The Short Italian Text. University of Notre Dame Press, 2018. ISBN 9780268102852.

The goddess Othea presents her letter to Hector
Pietro Lorezetti, Madonna deif Tramonti, circa 1330, Assisi, Basilica of Saint Francis (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"The Meditations on the Life of Christ was the most popular and influential devotional work of the later Middle Ages. With its lively dialogue and narrative realism, its poignant and moving depictions of the Nativity and Passion, and its direct appeals to the reader to feel love and compassion, the Meditations had a major impact on devotional practices, religious art, meditative literature, vernacular drama, and the cultivation of affective experience.

This volume is a critical edition, with English translation and commentary, of a hitherto-unpublished Italian text that McNamer argues is likely to be the original version of this influential masterpiece. Livelier and far more compact than the Latin text, the Italian "short text" possesses a stylistic and textual integrity that appears to testify to its primacy among early versions of the Meditations. The evidence also suggests that it was composed by a woman, a Poor Clare from Pisa—an author whose work McNamer contends was obscured by the anonymous Franciscan friar who subsequently altered and expanded the text. In bringing to light this unique Italian version and building a case for its origins and importance, this book will encourage a fresh look at the Meditations and serve as a foundation for further scholarship and debate concerning some of the most compelling subjects in Italian and European literary and cultural history, including the role of women in the invention of new genres and spiritual practices, the early development of Italian prose narrative, the rise of vernacular theology, and the history of emotion."—Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

September 2017 [Posted August 2018]

Christine de Pizan. Othea's Letter to Hector. Edited and translated by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Earl Jeffrey Richards. The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 57. Iter Press and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017. ISBN 9780866985772.

The goddess Othea presents her letter to Hector
The goddess Othea presents her letter to Hector, British Library, Harley MS 4431, fol. 95v, French, circa 1414 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"Othea's Letter to Hector, one of Christine de Pizan's most popular works, is at the same time one of her most complex creations. Combining a somewhat Sibylline verse text based on a mythological figure with extensive citation of pagan sapiential authorities, the Bible, and the Church Fathers, it showcases Christine's extraordinary learning and her innovative approach to didacticism. An appendix provides new insights on her skillful use of patristic sources and creative command of Latin authors." - Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

May 2017 [Posted July 2018]

Visions of Sainthood in Medieval Rome: The Lives of Margherita Colonna by Giovanni Colonna and Stefania. Translated by Larry F. Field. Edited and Introduced by Lezlie S. Knox and Sean L. Field. University of Notre Dame Press, 2017. ISBN 9780268102012.

Coronation of the Virgin, apse mosaic by Jacopo Torriti
Coronation of the Virgin, apse mosaic by Jacopo Torriti, Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, 1295. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

"Margherita Colonna (1255–1280) was born into one of the great baronial families that dominated Rome politically and culturally in the thirteenth century. After the death of her father and mother, Margherita was raised by her brothers, including Cardinal Giacomo Colonna. The two extant contemporary accounts of her short life offer a daring model of mystical lay piety forged in imitation of St. Francis but worked out in the vibrant world of medieval Rome.

In Visions of Sainthood in Medieval Rome, Larry F. Field, Lezlie S. Knox, and Sean L. Field present the first English translations of Margherita Colonna's two "lives" and a dossier of associated texts, along with thoroughly researched contextualization and scholarly examination. The first of the two lives was written by a layman, the Roman Senator Giovanni Colonna, one of Margherita Colonna's brothers. The second was written by a woman named Stefania, who had been a close follower of Margherita Colonna and assumed leadership of her Franciscan community after Margherita's death. These intriguing texts open up new perspectives on numerous historical questions. How did authorial gender and status influence hagiographic perspective? How fluid was the nature of female Franciscan identity during the era in which the papacy was creating the Order of St. Clare? What were the experiences and influences of female visionaries? And what was the process of saint-making at the heart of an aristocratic Roman family? These texts add rich new texture to our overall picture of medieval visionary culture and will interest students and scholars of medieval and renaissance history, literature, religion, and women's studies." —Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

April 2017 [Posted June 2018]

"The Saintly Life of the Blessed Lady Rickeldey, Named Gertrude, and the Great Wonders that Our Dear Lord Accomplished with Her." Translated by Gertrud Jaron Lewis and Tillman Lewis. Edited and annotated by Michael Hopf, Freimut Löser, and Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker. The Dedicated Spiritual Life of Upper Rhine Noble Women: A Study and Translation of a Fourteenth-Century Spiritual Biography of Gertrude Rickeldey of Ortenberg and Heilke of Staufenberg. By Anneke B. Mulder-Bakke. Sanctimoniales: Religious Women series, 2. Brepols, 2017. Pages 111-250. ISBN 9782503574318.

Crowned woman (likely Eleanor of Woodstock) at Mass
Crowned woman (likely Eleanor of Woodstock) at Mass, Taymouth Hours, 14th century, more information. (Source: British Library, public domain)

" Lady Gertrude Rickeldey of Ortenberg (d. 1335) was a noble widow who lived a spiritual, but secular life in her own household, first in Offenburg and later in Strasbourg, the economic and cultural heart of southern Germany. Her life story was written by a lay woman from Gertrude's entourage and was based on numerous stories told by Gertrude's lifelong companion, Heilke of Staufenberg (d. after 1335). The biographer gives us a view of the aristocratic household, reports the many conversations that the women held with fellow believers and learned mendicants, and shows how they led a life of devotion in their own home while also being full citizens of the city, taking part in both the civic and religious politics of Strasbourg. The details of her account reveal that the women did not take vows or renounce their possessions. They did not abandon their own decision-making power. Instead, they were mistresses of their own lives and developed into ethicae of stature." — Description reproduced from the publisher's website.

March 2017 [Posted April 2018]

"Berhtgyth's Letters to Balthard." Introduced, edited and translated by Kathryn Maude. Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 53, 3 (2017): 1-24. Subsidia Series Volume 7, 2017. Medieval Texts in Translation 4. Available online.

The woman with the blood flow, mosaic from Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, 520-526 C.E
The Breedon Virgin, Anglo-Saxon sculpture, 8th century C.E., more information. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, photo by James Yardley, labeled for non-commercial reuse)

"In the late-eighth century, the nun Berhtgyth, a member of the Anglo-Saxon mission to Germany, wrote three letters to her brother Balthard; these were preserved as part of the so-called Boniface correspondence and collected in a mid-ninth century manuscript along with the extended correspondence of Archbishops Boniface and Lull. These three letters have not been edited since Michael Tangl's 1916 edition, and this is the first edition with an introduction and notes in English. This is also the first complete English translation of Berhtgyth's letters, although portions have been translated in the past by Jane Stevenson and Peter Dronke, among others. As these letters have not previously been translated into English, they are also not available in the Epistolae database of letters to and from women. Scholars have focused on the Berhtgyth letters primarily as evidence for intimate sibling relationships in the early medieval period, as well as an expression of women's literacy and poetic talent." —Opening paragraph of the introduction. Reproduced with the author's permission.

February 2017 [Posted February 2018]

Jacob of Sarug's Homilies on Women Whom Jesus Met. Edited and translated by Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Sebastian P. Brock, Reyhan Durmaz, Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos, Michael Payne and Daniel Picus. Texts from Christian Late Antiquity. Gorgias Press, 2016. ISBN 9781463205805.

The woman with the blood flow, mosaic from Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, 520-526 C.E
The woman with the blood flow, mosaic from Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, 520-526 C.E.
(Source: Mode of Life, labeled for non-commercial reuse )

The Gospels contain a number of stories about women whom Jesus met during his ministry. Most of these women are unnamed, but their stories were important for ancient Christians and continue to be so throughout Christian history. In this volume, we collect five verse homilies by the great Syriac poet preacher, Jacob of Sarug (d. 521) that treat these encounters: on the Canaanite Woman, on the Samaritan Woman, on the Hemorrhaging Woman, on the Woman Bent Double, and on Jairus' Daughter. In each of these stories, the unnamed woman suffered affliction, whether physical, psychological, moral or ethical. To each one Jesus offered healing by word and by deed.

These verse homilies also provide vivid examples of Jacob of Sarug's preaching. Crafted with lyrical beauty, presented in lively manner, and displaying profound discernment into human nature, they demonstrate why and how Jacob came to be called "the Flute of the Holy Spirit" in Syriac tradition. -- Description from the publisher's website.

December 2016 [Posted January 2018]

A Revelation of Purgatory. Edited and translated by Liz Herbert McAvoy. Library of Medieval Women. D. S. Brewer, 2017. ISBN 9781843844716.

Prayer Book of Stefan Lockner
Stefan Lochner, Souls in Purgatory, between 1450 and 1451, Germany. Prayer Book of Stefan Lockner (Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.)

"A Revelation of Purgatory was written by an unnamed woman, almost certainly an anchoress, in Winchester in 1422. It details from a first-person perspective a series of terrifying visions experienced by the author in which she witnesses the purgatorial sufferings of a former friend named Margaret who makes her way through the blazing fires of purgatory tormented by devils, the "worm of conscience", and - uniquely - her two former pets, a fierce little cat and dog. Through her prayer and the prayers she elicits from her own circle of influential priests, the anchoress is eventually able to deliver Margaret to the doors of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Made available here in accessible parallel-text format with extended introduction and annotation, the Revelation is an important text: not only does it testify to popular and religious concerns with the afterlife in the late Middle Ages but also underscores the significant role played by women in mitigating the suffering of souls in purgatory by means of their personal interventions. The text also bears witness to female friendship, effective intergender dialogue, and the central role played by an anchoress in those communities with which she interacted, be they spiritual, institutional or personal." -- Description from the publisher's website.

November 2016 [Posted December 2017]

Ippolita Maria Sforza. Duchess and Hostage in Renaissance Naples: Letters and Orations. Edited by Diana Robin and Lynn Lara Westwater. The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 55. Iter Press and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017. ISBN 9780866985741.

Profile portrait of a young girl
Antonio del Pollaiolo, Profile portrait of a young girl, circa 1465, Florence. Berlin, Gemäldegalerie (Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.)

"This volume presents in translation 100 previously unknown letters of Ippolita Maria Sforza (1445–1488), daughter of the Duke of Milan, who was sent at age twenty to marry the son of the infamously brutal King Ferrante of Naples. Sforza's letters display the adroit diplomacy she used to strengthen the alliance between Milan and Naples, then the two most powerful states in Italy, amid such grave crises as her brother's assassination in Milan and the Turkish invasion of Otranto. Still, Ippolita lived as a hostage at the Neapolitan court, subject not only to the threat of foreign invasion but also to her husband's well-known sexual adventures and her father-in-law's ruthlessness. Soon after Ippolita's mysterious death in 1488, the fraught Naples-Milan alliance collapsed." -- Description from the publisher's website.

October 2016 [Posted September 2017]

Symeon Metaphrastes. Christian Novels from the Menologion of Symeon Metaphrastes. Translated by Stratis Papaioannou. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library Series, 45. Harvard University Press, 2017. ISBN 9780674975064.

Pelagia of Antioch, circa 1000, Constantinople
Pelagia of Antioch, circa 1000, Constantinople, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms. Vat.gr.1613: The Menologion of Basil II, p. 97 (Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.)

"Created in the tenth century, most likely as an imperial commission, the Menologion is a collection of rewritings of saints' lives originally intended to be read at services for Christian feast days. Yet Symeon Metaphrastes's stories also abound in transgression and violence, punishment and redemption, love and miracles. They resemble Greek novels of the first centuries of the Common Era, highlighting intense emotions and focusing on desire, both sacred and profane.

Symeon Metaphrastes was celebrated for rescuing martyrdom accounts and saints' biographies that otherwise may have been lost. His Menologion, among the most important Byzantine works, represents the culmination of a well-established tradition of Greek Christian storytelling. A landmark of Byzantine religious and literary culture, the Menologion was revered for centuries—copied in hundreds of manuscripts, recited publicly, and adapted into other medieval languages. This edition presents the first English translation of six Christian novels excerpted from Symeon's text, all of them featuring women who defy social expectations." -- Description from the publisher's website.

September 2016 [Posted July 2017]

Antoine de La Sale. Jean de Saintré: A Late Medieval Education in Love and Chivalry. Translated by Roberta L. Krueger and Jane H. M. Taylor. The Middle Ages Series. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. ISBN 9780812245868.

Jean de Saintré jousting with the Spanish knight
Jean de Saintré jousting with the Spanish knight, Enguerrant, ca. 1470, France, British Library, Ms. Cotton Nero D. IX: The Romance of Jean de Saintré, folio 40 (Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.)

"Written in 1456 and purporting to be the biography of the actual fourteenth-century knight of its title, Jean de Saintré has been called the first modern novel in French and one of the first historical novels in any language. Taken in hand at the age of thirteen by an older and much more experienced lady, Madame des Belles Cousines, the youth grows into an accomplished knight, winning numerous tournaments and even leading a crusade against the infidels for the love of Madame. When he reaches maturity, Jean starts to rebel against Madame's domination by seeking out chivalric adventures on his own. She storms off to her country estates and takes up with the burly abbot of a nearby monastery. The text moves into darker and uncourtly territory when Jean discovers their liaison and lashes out to avenge his lost love and honor, ruining Madame's reputation in the process.

Composed in the waning years of chivalry and at the threshold of the print revolution, Jean de Saintré incorporates disquisitions on sin and virtue, advice on hygiene and fashion, as well as lengthy set pieces of chivalric combat. Antoine de La Sale, who was, by turns, a page, a royal tutor, a soldier, and a judge at tournaments, embellished his text with wide-ranging insights into chivalric ideology, combat techniques, heraldry and warfare, and the moral training of a young knight. This superb translation—the first in nearly a hundred years—contextualizes the story with a rich introduction and a glossary and is suitable for scholars, students, and general readers alike. An encyclopedic compilation of medieval culture and a window into the lost world of chivalry, Jean de Saintré is a touchstone for both the late Middle Ages and the emergence of the modern novel." -- Description from the publisher's website.

May 2016 [Posted June 2017]

Christine de Pizan. The Book of the Mutability of Fortune. Edited and translated by Geri L. Smith. The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 52. Iter Press and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017. ISBN 978-0-86698-570-3.

Christine de Pizan in her study
Christine de Pizan in her study, ca. 1410-14, at the beginning of the Cent Balades in the manuscript known as The Book of the Queen (Source: British Library, Harley MS 4431, f. 4r; public domain)

"Christine de Pizan (ca. 1364–ca. 1431) has long been recognized as France's first professional woman of letters, and interest in her voluminous and wide-ranging corpus has been steadily rising for decades. During the tumultuous later years of the Hundred Years' War, Christine's lone but strong feminine voice could be heard defending women, expounding the highest ideals for good governance, and lamenting France's troubled times alongside her own personal trials. In The Mutability of Fortune, Christine fuses world history with autobiography to demonstrate mankind's subjugation to the ceaselessly changing, and often cruel, whims of Fortune. Now, for the first time, this poem is accessible to an English-speaking audience, further expanding our appreciation of this ground-breaking woman author and her extraordinary body of work." -- Description from the publisher's website.

April 2016 [Posted April 2017]

Juan Rodríguez del Padrón, Triunfo de las donas / The Triumph of Ladies. Translated by Emily C. Francomano. Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 52, 3 (2016). Available online.

Master of La Manta, Three women from the Male and Female Worthies fresco
Master of La Manta, Three women from the Male and Female Worthies fresco, ca. 1419, Castello della Manta, Italy. Identified as Deiphile, Sinope and Hippolyta (Source: italyinus.org; public domain)

Abstract: "The Triunfo de las donas (The Triumph of Ladies) (1438-1441) by Juan Rodríguez del Padrón (fl. 1440s), is among the very first contributions in Hispanic literature to the pro-feminine modality of the querelle des femmes, or querella de las mujeres. Composed as the preface and dedication to María of Aragón (1396-1445), queen consort of Juan II of Castile (1405-1454), for Rodríguez del Padrón's Cadira de honor (The Seat of Honor), a treatise in defense of noble lineages, the Triunfo de las donas asserts the superiority of women over men, and in so doing, the supremacy of Queen María over her husband, at a time when she was actively involved in the struggle for control of the Castilian throne. Rodríguez del Padrón infuses the standard pro-feminine authorities from the querelle with irony, includes unusual examples of female virtue, and employs satire, a mode more commonly associated with misogynist diatribes, as a persuasive tool. The Triunfo de las donas is consequently both orthodox and subversive. It is also a prime example of how many texts from the debate on women, though highly conventional, are situated within specific contexts and endow the old commonplaces with new meanings." -- Description from the publisher's website.

March 2016 [Posted February 2017]

Ibn al-Sā 'ī. Consorts of the Caliphs: Women and the Court of Baghdad. Edited by Shawkat M. Toorawa. Library of Arabic Literature series. New York University Press, 2015. ISBN 9781479850983.

Noblewoman and ladies listen to music in a garden, 13th century
Noblewoman and ladies listen to music in a garden, 13th century (?), Spain (?). Vatican, Hadīth Bayâd wa Riyād, ̣Apostolic Library, Ms. Ar.368. (Source: Wikimedia Commons; Public domain)

"Consorts of the Caliphs is a seventh/thirteenth-century compilation of anecdotes about thirty-eight women who were, as the title suggests, consorts to those in power, most of them concubines of the early Abbasid caliphs and wives of latter-day caliphs and sultans. This slim but illuminating volume is one of the few surviving texts by Ibn al-Saʿi (d. 674 H/1276 AD). Ibn al-Saʿi was a prolific Baghdadi scholar who chronicled the academic and political elites of his city, and whose career straddled the final years of the Abbasid dynasty and the period following the cataclysmic Mongol invasion of 656 H/1258 AD.

In this work, Ibn al-Saʿi is keen to forge a connection between the munificent wives of his time and the storied lovers of the so-called golden age of Baghdad. Thus, from the earlier period, we find Harun al-Rashid pining for his brother's beautiful slave, Ghadir, and the artistry of such musical and literary celebrities as ʿArib and Fadl, who bested the male poets and singers of their day. From times closer to Ibn al-Saʿi's own—when Abbasid authority was trying to reassert itself and Baghdad was again a major center of intellectual and religious activity—we meet women such as Banafsha, who endowed law colleges, had bridges built, and provisioned pilgrims bound for Mecca; slave women whose funeral services were led by caliphs; and noble Saljuq princesses from Afghanistan.

Informed by the author's own sources, his insider knowledge, and well-known literary materials, these singular biographical sketches, though delivered episodically, bring the belletristic culture of the Baghdad court to life, particularly in the personal narratives and poetry of culture heroines otherwise lost to history." -- Description from the publisher's website.

February 2016 [Posted December 2016]

Catherine of Siena: An Anthology. Translated by Suzanne Noffke. ACMRS (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies), 2011-2012. 2 vols. ISBN 9780866984546.

Lothar II with Waldrada, his concubine and preferred wife
Andrea Vanni, St. Catherine of Siena with a female devotee , 1380-83, Siena, Basilica of San Domenico. The saint wears the white habit and black cloak of a Dominican tertiary. (Source: flickr- Photographed by Jim Forest; Creative Commons 2.0 license)

"Drawing from all of the writings of Catherine of Siena - The Letters, The Dialogue, and The Prayers - this anthology gathers texts in three collections:

  • her theology, following a thematic outline generated from the internal logic of her works;
  • her imagery, with images in related clusters; and
  • significant issues with which she dealt in her own time.
Within each subsection, texts are presented in chronological order, the better to reveal the evolution of Catherine's thought. The whole is preceded by a substantial Introduction. For more detailed information, download the complete Table of Contents (PDF) here." -- Description from the publisher's website.

December 2015 [Posted October 2016]

The Divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga: Hincmar of Rheims's De divortio. Edited by Rachel Stone and Charles West. Manchester Medieval Sources Series. Manchester University Press, 2016. ISBN 9780719082962.

Lothar II with Waldrada, his concubine and preferred wife
Representation of a king and queen illustrating Psalm 45 ("My heart is stirred…"), 9th century, Stuttgart Psalter (Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Cod. Bibl. fol. 23, 57v)
(Source: Württembergische Landesbibliothek; Public domain)

"In the mid-ninth century, Francia was rocked by the first royal divorce scandal of the Middle Ages: the attempt by King Lothar II of Lotharingia to rid himself of his queen, Theutberga and remarry. Even "women in their weaving sheds" were allegedly gossiping about the lurid accusations made. Kings and bishops from neighbouring kingdoms, and several popes, were gradually drawn into a crisis affecting the fate of an entire kingdom.

This is the first professionally published translation of a key source for this extraordinary episode: Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims's De divortio Lotharii regis et Theutbergae reginae. This text offers eye-opening insight both on the political wrangling of the time and on early medieval attitudes towards magic, penance, gender, the ordeal, marriage, sodomy, the role of bishops, and kingship. The translation includes a substantial introduction and annotations, putting the case into its early medieval context and explaining Hincmar's sometimes-dubious methods of argument." -- Description from the publisher's website.

November 2015 [Posted August 2016]

Making Love in the Twelfth Century: "Letters of Two Lovers" in Context. Translation with Commentary by Barbara Newman. The Middle Ages Series. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. ISBN 9780812248098.

Abelard and Heloise speaking together
Abelard and Heloise speaking together, circa 1370, Le Roman de la Rose (Chantilly, Musée Condé, ms fr. 482/665, fol. 160v)
(Source: Wikimedia Commons;, Public domain)

"Nine hundred years ago in Paris, a teacher and his brilliant female student fell in love and chronicled their affair in a passionate correspondence. Their 116 surviving letters, some whole and some fragmentary, are composed in eloquent, highly rhetorical Latin. Since their discovery in the late twentieth century, the Letters of Two Lovers have aroused much attention because of their extreme rarity. They constitute the longest correspondence by far between any two persons from the entire Middle Ages, and they are private rather than institutional—which means that, according to all we know about the transmission of medieval letters, they should not have survived at all. Adding to their mystery, the letters are copied anonymously in a single late fifteenth-century manuscript, although their style and range of reference place them squarely in the early twelfth century.

Can this collection of correspondence be the previously lost love letters of Abelard and Heloise? And even if not, what does it tell us about the lived experience of love in the twelfth century?

Barbara Newman contends that these teacher-student exchanges bear witness to a culture that linked Latin pedagogy with the practice of ennobling love and the cult of friendship during a relatively brief period when women played an active part in that world. Newman presents a new translation of these extraordinary letters, along with a full commentary and two extended essays that parse their literary and intellectual contexts and chart the course of the doomed affair. Included, too, are two other sets of twelfth-century love epistles, the Tegernsee Letters and selections from the Regensburg Songs. Taken together, they constitute a stunning contribution to the study of the history of emotions by one of our most prominent medievalists." -- Description from the publisher's website.

October 2015 [Posted July 2016]

Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi. Letters to Her Sons, 1447-1470. Translated and edited by Judith Bryce. Other Voice in Early Modern Europe, 46. Iter Academic Press and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2016. ISBN 9780866985482.

Scene from the Miracle of the Abbess Delivered
Benozzo Gozzoli, Saint Zenobius Resuscitating a Dead Child, 1460s, Florence
(New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 15.106.3)
Rights: Open Access for Scholarly Content

"The seventy-three surviving letters written by Florentine widow, Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi (c.1406–1471), to her distant sons first appeared in print well over a century ago, but are here translated into English in their entirety for the first time. Whether for the professional historian or for the general reader interested in Renaissance Florence, they constitute a most precious testimony regarding both private and public life in the mid-fifteenth century, with themes ranging from familial relations, motherhood, marriage, and aspects of material culture to the harsh realities of political exile meted out by the Medici to their perceived opponents, these latter including her husband and, subsequently, her sons. -- Description from the publisher's website.

September 2015

Marie de France. Poetry: New Translations, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism. Translated and edited by Dorothy Gilbert. Norton Critical Editions. W. W. Norton, 2015. ISBN 9780393932683.

Scene from the Miracle of the Abbess Delivered
Maître de Jean de Papeleu, Marie de France writing. Fables of Marie de France, Paris, between 1285 and 1292
(Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Ms. 3142, fol. 256). Full view of the manuscript page at the BNF. Source of the detail view: Wikimedia Commons

"Marie de France was a medieval poet who was probably born in France and who lived in England during the twelfth century. Prominent among the earliest poets writing in the French vernacular, Marie de France helped shape the style and genres of later medieval poetry. This Norton Critical Edition includes all of Marie's lais (short narrative verse poems); selected fables; and a generous excerpt from Saint Patrick's Purgatory, a long poem based on a well-known medieval legend. Each text is accompanied by detailed explanatory annotations. For comparative reading, two lais, "Bisclavret" and "Yönec," are accompanied by Marie's facing-page originals.

"Backgrounds and Contexts" is thematically organized to provide readers with a clear sense of Marie's inspirations. Topics include "The Supernatural," "Love and Romance," "Medical Traditions," "Fable Sources and Analogues: Similar Themes," and "Purgatory and the Afterlife." Ovid, Chaucer, Andreas Capellanus, Boccaccio, Aristotle, and Bede are among the authors included.

From the wealth of scholarly work published on Marie de France, Dorothy Gilbert has chosen excerpts from nine pieces that address issues of history and authorship as well as major themes in the lais, fables, and Saint Patrick's Purgatory. The contributors are Thomas Warton, Abbé Gervais de la Rue, Joseph Bedier, Leo Spitzer, R. Howard Bloch, E. A. Francis, Jill Mann, and Jacques Le Goff." -- Description from the publisher's website.

May 2015

William of Malmesbury. Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Edited and translated by R. M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom. Boydell Medieval Texts. Boydell Press, 2015. ISBN 9781783270163.

Scene from the Miracle of the Abbess Delivered
Scene from the Miracle of the Abbess Delivered, Queen Mary Psalter, England (London/Westminster or East Anglia?); Between 1310 and 1320 (London, British Library, Royal 2 B VII, fol.208v). Image is in the public domain. Here the Virgin intervenes to save the reputation of the abbess. Mary entrusts the newborn baby to an angel for delivery to a hermit.

"This is the first title in the new series Boydell Medieval Texts, which will provide scholarly editions of major works with facing translation. Written c. 1135 by the Benedictine monk, historian and scholar William of Malmesbury (d. 1143), The Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary is of interest on several counts. It belongs in the first wave of collected miracles of the Virgin, produced by English Benedictine monks in the 1120s and '30s. These collections were to be influential across Europe and through the rest of the medieval period. Only two copies of William's work survive in anything like its complete form, and only one of them represents the finished product. But many of the stories were also transmitted separately, in groups or individually; the systematic use of this evidence is a feature of this new text.

The work is written in elegant Latin and embellished with William's customary erudition, including frequent quotations and echoes from (sometimes unusual) ancient authors. His instinct as a historian is to the fore, as he tries to establish historical context and credibility for his stories. Above all, the scope of the collection is surprisingly international, including stories drawn from all around the Mediterranean. This is an important document in the history of Marian devotion in medieval Europe. In his long Prologue (which enjoyed some independent circulation), William argues strongly for the Virgin's Immaculate Conception and bodily Assumption, doctrines still not generally accepted in western Europe at the time. With the appearance of this book all of William of Malmesbury's major works are available in modern editions and translations." -- Description from the publisher's website.

April 2015
(Posted March 2016)

The Life of St. Winifred: The Vita S. Wenefrede from BL Lansdowne MS 436. Introduced, edited and translated by James Ryan Gregory. Medieval Feminist Forum, Subsidia Series, Volume 4, 2016. Medieval Texts in Translation 2.
Available open access: http://ir.uiowa.edu/mff/vol51/iss3/1/#.Vq_a-nTRFjI.twitter

Martyrdom of St. Winifred
Fastolf Master, Martyrdom of St. Winifred, Hours of William Porter France, Rouen, circa 1420-25 (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.105, fol. 73 )
(Source: Twitter)

"Known in Welsh as Gwenfrewy, Winifred is the best known of the Welsh female saints. She lived and died in the seventh century, and her legend survives in multiple written accounts from the High and Late Middle Ages...The collection [early 14th century manuscript of saints' lives] was owned in the fifteenth century by the Benedictine nunnery at Romsey in southwestern England, and it is possible, although not certain, that the manuscript was created there. The manuscript contains no clues regarding the compiler-redactor's identity, including that person's gender. Romsey ownership and the seemingly educational nature of the legendary—combined with the fact that it contains the vitae of several female saints—indicates that the collection was most likely created specifically for a female audience.

A female saint from the border region between Wales and England, Winifred herself is an intriguing and liminal figure. She became known and was venerated in both countries after English monks translated her bones from Wales to the relatively new Benedictine abbey at Shrewsbury in 1138. Claimed by two nations with a history of conflict, Winifred's narrative thus became a site for the expression of competing nationalist interests." -- Description from the translation's introduction

March 2015

Francesco Barbaro. The Wealth of Wives: A Fifteenth-Century Marriage Manual. Edited and translated by Margaret L. King. The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 42. Iter Academic Press and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2015. ISBN: 9780866985406.

Portraits of Arrigo and Agnese Licinio and Their Children
Bernardino Licinio, Portraits of Arrigo and Agnese Licinio and Their Children Circa 1530 (Rome, Galleria Borghese)
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1415, Francesco Barbaro produced a marriage manual intended at once for his friend, a scion of the Florentine Medici family, and for the whole set of his peers, the young nobility of Venice. Countering the trends of the day toward dowry chasing and dowry inflation, Barbaro insisted that the real wealth of wives was their capacity to conceive, birth, and rear children worthy of their heritage. The success of the patriciate depended, ironically, on women: for they alone could ensure the biological, cultural, and spiritual reproduction of their marital lineage. The Wealth of Wives circulated in more than 100 manuscript versions, five Latin editions, and translations into German, Italian, French, and English, far outstrip- ping in its influence Leon Battista Alberti’s On the Family (1434). -- Description from the Iter website.

February 2015

A Corresponding Renaissance: Letters Written by Italian Women, 1375-1650. Translated and edited, with an introductory essay by Lisa Kaborycha. Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780199342433.

Book cover with an illustration from Pinturicchio’s Eritrean Sibyl
Book cover with an illustration from Pinturicchio’s Eritrean Sibyl (Baglioni Chapel, Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Spello, Italy) (Source: Lisa Kaborycha’s website, Renaissance Italy)

Women's vibrant presence in the Italian Renaissance has long been overlooked, with attention focused mainly on the artistic and intellectual achievements of their male counterparts. During this period, however, Italian women excelled especially as writers, and nowhere were they more expressive than in their letters. In A Corresponding Renaissance: Letters Written by Italian Women, 1375-1650 Lisa Kaborycha considers the lives and cultural contributions revealed by these women in their own words, through their correspondence. By turns highly personal, didactic, or devotional, these letters expose the daily realities of women's lives and their feelings, ideas, and reactions to the complex world in which they lived. Through their letters women emerge not merely as bystanders, but as true cultural protagonists in the Italian Renaissance.

A Corresponding Renaissance is divided into eight thematic chapters, featuring fifty-five letters that are newly translated into English-many for the first time ever. Each of the letters is annotated and includes a brief biographical introduction and bibliographic references. The women come from all walks of life--saints, poets, courtesans and countesses--and from every geographic area of Italy; chronologically they span the entire Renaissance, with the majority representing the sixteenth century. Approximately one third of the selections are well-known letters, such as those of Catherine of Siena, Veronica Franco, and Isabella d'Este; the rest are lesser known, previously un-translated, or otherwise inaccessible. -- Description from the Oxford University Press website.

December 2014

Adenet, le Roi. Bertha of the Big Foot (Berte as grans pies): A Thirteenth-century Epic. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 417. Translated by Anna Moore Morton. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2013. ISBN: 9780866984652.

Illustration from Adenet's Cléomadès
Illustration from Adenet's Cléomadès (Paris, Arsenal Library, ARS MS-3142) The poet stands to the left, while the queen's sister-in-law recites the story of Cléomadès which she heard in Spain.
(Source: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies)

This is the first translation of Adenet le Roi's thirteenth-century epic in Old French, Berte as grans piés, into a modern language. The principal characters in this work are women, an unusual circumstance in medieval French literature, especially in epics. Four women make the key decisions and take the crucial actions in Berte. Men are relegated to minor roles. The medieval popularity of this dramatic tale and Adenet’s artistry in telling it should make the translation useful to those who study literature but do not read Old French and to those particularly interested in women’s studies. --
Description from the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

October 2014

Jaume Roig. The Mirror of Jaume Roig: An Edition and an English Translation of MS. Vat. Lat. 4806. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 350. Edited by María Celeste Delgado-Librero. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2010. ISBN: 978–0–86698–398–3.

Temptation of Adam and Eve (second half of the 10th century).
Temptation of Adam and Eve (second half of the 10th century) El Escorial, Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo, Ms & II. 5 f° 18.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This is an annotated edition and English translation of Jaume Roig’s Spill, a vast, mid-15th-century Iberian narrative poem composed in Valencian Catalan. The work is considered to be one of the most significant pieces of literature in that dialect, but it is usually overlooked because of the difficulties of the language despite its serving as a major touchstone for knowledge of late medieval medicine (Roig was a physician), misogyny, Marian theology, and a huge array of cultural practices such as midwifery, wet nursing, marriage, and civil law. -- Description from the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

September 2014

The Book of Gladness/ Le livre de leesce: A 14th Century Defense of Women, in English and French, by Jehan Le Fèvre. Translated by Linda Burke. McFarland, 2014.

The Revelations of Saint Birgitta.
Penthesilea as one of the Nine Female Worthies (c 1460-1470) Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manuscrits occidentaux, cote: Clairambault 1312. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Book of Gladness (ca. 1380) contains one of the most powerful, original, and influential pro-feminine voices of the late Middle Ages. In a spirited riposte to the misogynist tradition, Le Fèvre (with the help of Gladness, his lady-persona) boldly reinterprets the Bible while questioning ancient authorities in the light of "true" experience, especially his own.

Despite its foundational importance, this work has never been translated into English. The present prose translation is lively and accessible, yet thoroughly grounded in scholarship. An Introduction explains the textual challenges hindering the full recognition of this classic up to now and elucidates its contribution to the medieval debate on the nature and status of women and marriage. Also included is the first-ever English translation and discussion of a newly discovered scribal interpolation on Christine de Pizan in a manuscript of Jehan Le Fèvre's Lamentations. The bibliography provides the first complete list of manuscripts containing the French Lamentations and Le Livre de Leesce. -- Description from the McFarland website.

May 2014

D'Avray, D. L.. Dissolving Royal Marriages: A Documentary History, 860-1600. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

The Revelations of Saint Birgitta.
Eleanor of Aquitaine marrying Louis VII in 1137 from Les Chroniques de Saint-Denis, late 14th century In the scene on the right Louis departs for the Crusades (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Dissolving Royal Marriages adopts a unique chronological and geographical perspective to present a comparative overview of royal divorce cases from the Middle Ages through to the Reformation period. Drawing from original translations of key source documents, the book sheds new light on some of the most prominent and elite divorce proceedings in Western history, including Charles IV's annulment from Blanche of Burgundy. The comprehensive commentary that accompanies these materials allows readers to grasp, for the first time, how the constructs of canon law helped shape the legal arguments on which specific cases were founded, and better understand the events that actually unfolded in the courtrooms. In his case-by-case exploration of elaborate witness statements, extensive legal negotiations and political wrangling, d'Avray shows us how little the canonical law for the dissolution of marriage changed over time in this fascinating new study of Church-state relations and papal power over princes. -- Description from the Cambridge University Press website.

April 2014

Saint Birgitta of Sweden. The Revelations of St. Birgitta of Sweden. Translated by Denis Searby. Introduction and notes by Bridget Morris. Oxford University Press. Volume 1, 2006; Volume 2, 2008; Volume 3, 2012; Volume 4, June 2015.

The Revelations of Saint Birgitta.
The Revelations of Saint Birgitta, 1375-1395, National Library of Poland, rps 8007, Malinowski folio
Source: Wikimedia Commons

St. Birgitta of Sweden (1303-1373, canonized 1391) was one of the most charismatic and influential female visionaries of the later Middle Ages. Altogether, she received some 700 revelations, dealing with subjects ranging from meditations on the human condition, domestic affairs in Sweden, and ecclesiastical matters in Rome, to revelations in praise of the Incarnation and devotion to the Virgin. Her Revelations, collected and ordered by her confessors, circulated widely throughout Europe and long after her death. Many eminent individuals, including Cardinal Juan Torquemada, Jean Gerson, and Martin Luther read and commented on her writings, which influenced the spiritual lives of countless individuals. Birgitta was also the founder of a new monastic order, which still exists today. She is the patron saint of Sweden, and in 2000 was declared (with Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein) co-patroness of Europe. -- Description from the Oxford University Press website.

March 2014

Giovanni Gioviano Pontano. On Married Love and Eridanus. Translated by Luke Roman. I Tatti Renaissance Library, vol. 63. Harvard University Press, 2014. ISBN 9780674728660.

Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement.
Filippo Lippi, A Man and a Woman at a Casement. Italy, 1440-1444. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
See more information about the image in Feminae #28744

Giovanni Pontano (1429-1503), whose academic name was Gioviano, was one of the great scholar-poets of the Renaissance as well as a leading statesman who served as prime minister to the Kings of Aragon and southern Italy. The dominant literary figure of quattrocento Naples, Pontano produced literary works in several genres and was the leader of the Neapolitan academy. Among his large poetic output are the two brilliantly original poetical cycles that comprise the present volume. On Married Love stakes out new ground in the Western tradition as the first sustained exploration of married love in first-person poetry. In Eridanus, which celebrates the poet’s love for a mistress, Pontano combines the familiar motifs of courtly love with the allusive matrix of classical elegy and his own distinctive vision. Both works are here translated into English for the first time. -- Description from the Harvard University Press website.

February 2014

A Nun of Barking Abbey. La Vie d'Edouard le Confesseur. Edited and translated by Jane Bliss. Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies series. Liverpool University Press, 2014. ISBN 9781846319518.

Edith, wife of King Edward the Confessor, is crowned queen.
Edith, wife of King Edward the Confessor, is crowned queen. English, from a copy of The Life of Saint Edward the Confessor by Matthew Paris, circa 1250-1260 (Cambridge University Library MS. Ee.3.59, f. 11v.)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
See more information about the image in Feminae #31825

The twelfth-century Anglo-Norman verse Life of King Edward the Confessor is presented here in modern English for the first time, and with a full introduction and notes. Its author, an anonymous Nun of Barking Abbey, offers a many-faceted and absorbing portrait of the celebrated king and saint, together with legendary material found in no other version of this hagiographic narrative.

There is also a wealth of detail about Edward's times as well as about the twelfth-century context in which the Nun was writing, making the poem of great interest to historians as well as to literary scholars. This is among the earliest texts in French known to be by a woman, and so will also be of great value to scholars investigating medieval female authorship.

Long neglected, perhaps because mistakenly thought to be a mere translation of Aelred of Rievaulx's Vita in Latin, it proves to be remarkably independent of its main source and raises questions about the freedom and originality of medieval "transposition" or translation.-- Description from the Liverpool University Press website.

December 2013

Pietro da Eboli. Book in Honor of Augustus (Liber ad Honorem Augusti). Translated by Gwenyth Hood. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012. ISBN 9780866984461.

Empress Constance entrusts her new-born son to the duchess of Spoleto.
Empress Constance entrusts her new-born son to the duchess of Spoleto, from the Book in Honor of Augustus (Burgerbibliothek Bern)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Book in Honor of Augustus is a translation of Pietro da Eboli's Liber ad Honorem Augusti, published with the original Latin text, with black and white reproductions of the miniatures from the manuscript, with a historical introduction, a commentary, and biographical sketches of all the personalities mentioned in the poem. Liber, completed around 1196–1197, follows the struggles of Henry VI of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor, to establish himself as king of Sicily after marrying its heiress, Constance of Hauteville..-- Description from the ACMRS website.

November 2013

Heroines of the French Epic: A second selection of chansons de geste.  Translated by Michael A. H.  Newth.  D. S. Brewer, 2014.  ISBN 9781843610.

Heroines of the French Epic: A second selection of chansons de geste.  Translated by Michael A. H.  Newth.

The epic tales of medieval France, called chansons de geste, or "songs of deeds", provided the chief means of cultural and imaginative expression in the French language for over one hundred and fifty years (c.1100-1250), during one of the most significant periods of social change in the history of Western civilisation. Yet they remain largely unknown to most English-speaking readers of the twenty-first century. In Heroes of the Old French Epic (Boydell, 2005) Michael Newth translated a selection of the traditional militaristic narratives dominated by male heroes.

This oral-based epic genre was increasingly influenced by the ethos of romance, and the present volume offers full English verse translations of six more of these songs, each chosen this time to illustrate the range of roles gradually accorded to women in these originally militaristic narratives. Four key narrative roles have been selected - woman as helpmeet, woman as lover, woman as victim, and woman as spiritual model - in order to illustrate some major changes in the social status of women that took place during the period of this popular genre's existence. These poems are a key witness to the final stages of the chansons de geste before they were overtaken by the new fashion for the fictions of courtly romance. Apart from "The Capture of Orange", which has never been translated into modern English verse, none of the poems have yet appeared in English translation.-- Description from the Boydell and Brewer website.

October 2013

Isabel de Villena.  Portraits of Holy Women: Selections from the Vita Christi.  Introduction and selection of texts by Joan Curbet and translation and notes by Robert D. Hughes.  Barcino and Tamesis, 2013.  ISBN 9781855662599.
The book was a result of research sponsored by the Institute of Medieval Studies at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Isabel de Villena.  Portraits of Holy Women
Isabel de Villena. Portraits of Holy Women

The Life of Christ (Vita Christi), written by the abbess Isabel de Villena, is the only literary work to have been preserved in Catalan and to bear the signature of a woman during the Middle Ages. It was composed to provide spiritual direction for the nuns within the community of Poor Clares which Sor (i.e. Sister) Isabel oversaw at the Convent of the Holy Trinity in Valencia.

The work was only able to emerge from obscurity by accident. In 1497 Queen Isabel of Castile, the wife of Ferdinand of Catalonia-Aragon, who had heard news of the book's existence, asked Sor Isabel's successor for a copy. The new Abbess, Sor Aldonça, responded by bringing the work to press.

Queen Isabel's interest in Sor Isabel's book was understandable. The former abbess had been the daughter of the refined and restless Marquess of Villena, and was herself educated at Court, a milieu with which she maintained very positive relations throughout her life. As an abbess, what's more, she carried out important reforms at the convent and became a valued and respected figure within the dynamic cultural world of the Valencia of her day.

Isabel de Villena's Vita Christi has often been interpreted as a response, delivered from the serenity of the cloister, to the misogyny and satire against the female gender emanating from certain books written at that time.  Sor Isabel's work is a re-evaluation of the role women played in the life of Jesus Christ, a role at variance with the subsidiary one ascribed to them by the majority of commentators.-- Description from the Tamesis website.

September 2013

A Renaissance Wedding: The Celebrations at Pesaro for the Marriage of Costanzo Sforza and Camilla Marzano d’Aragona 26-30 May 1475.  Introduced, translated, and edited by Jane Bridgeman.  Latin poems edited and translated by Alan Griffiths.  Harvey Miller Publishers, 2013.  ISBN 9781905375936

Sandro Botticelli,
Panel from The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (1493)
(Wikimedia Commons)

This publication is the first English translation from the Italian of the fascinating contemporary account of the spectacular four-day celebrations that took place in Pesaro in May 1475 to mark the marriage of Costanzo Sforza Lord of Pesaro and Camilla d’Aragona of Naples. The event was commemorated both in manuscript and early print in an anonymous narration that describes in great detail the arrival of the bride and her welcome procession into Pesaro; the actual marriage ceremony and the celebratory banquet that followed; the pageants, presentation of gifts and fireworks that filled the third day; and the final day’s excitement of jousts and yet more theatrical entertainment…

This present edition of the text includes all the images that illustrate the original manuscript – 32 full-page miniatures that depict the floats that welcomed the bride at the city gates of Pesaro; the costumed figures at the wedding banquet who represented the presiding Sun and Moon or the male and female messengers of the classical gods and goddesses who announced the exotic dishes of the 12-course banquet; and further colourful, unusually interesting illustrations of the ballets, fireworks and triumphs of the final two days of the celebrations. -- Description from the Brepols website.

May 2013

The Secrets of Women in Middle Dutch: A Bilingual Edition of Der vrouwen heimelijcheit in Ghent University Library Ms 444.  Orlanda S. H. Lie and Willem Kuiper.  Translated by Thea Summerfield.  Verloren, 2011.  ISBN 9789087042448

Coitus from the Tacuinum sanitatis (ca late 1390s)
(Wikimedia Commons)

A poet, head over heels in love with a charming lady, writes a book at her request on intimate matters concerning women. It is a delicate undertaking, not only because it is a relatively unknown subject for him, but also because he does not want her to be angry with him when she reads about these highly personal matters. This is how Der vrouwen heimelijcheit [The Secrets of Women] begins. An intriguing characteristic of this fifteenth-century text is the way in which the author has alternated scientific knowledge of the medieval artes corpus with a personal love complaint. He interrupts his gynecological exposition in twenty-odd places to express his love in lyrical terms. To make the text available for an international readership, this publication provides a cultural historical introduction and presents the Middle Dutch Secrets of Women together with an English translation.

--  Description from the Verloren website.

April 2013

Three Spanish Querelle Texts: Grisel and Mirabella, The Slander against Women, and The Defense of Ladies against Slanderers.  Perre Torrellas and Juan de Flores.  Edited and translated by Emily C. Francomano.  Iter and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2013.  ISBN 9780772721341

Juana of Castile, called “The Mad,”
Juan de Flandes, 1500
(Wikimedia Commons)

This translation, bilingual edition, and study bring together the two most influential voices in the Spanish querelle des femmes, Pere Torrellas (ca. 1420 – ca. 1492) and Juan de Flores (d. ca. 1503). Torrellas’ Slander against Women (Maldezir de mugeres) and Flores’ short romance Grisel and Mirabella (La historia de Grisel y Mirabella), circulated widely among Spanish readers from the time of their composition throughout the sixteenth century. Pere Torrellas and Juan de Flores in all likelihood never met, but their works have more in common than their participation in the querelle, for Torrellas appears as a misogynist, libertine character in Grisel and Mirabella. Indeed, theSlander against Women, Flores’ Grisel and Mirabella, and Torrellas’ lesser-known Defense of Ladies against Slanderers together circumscribe the Spanish querelle, a debate that blurs the lines between literature and history.

See an excerpt from the text on the website of the Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: the Toronto series.

--  Description from the Georgetown University publications website

March 2013

Maximus the Confessor. The Life of the Virgin. Translated by Stephen J. Shoemaker.  Yale University Press, 2012.    ISBN 9780300175042

Mary and the Disciples at Pentecost,
Rabbula Gospels, Syria, 586 CE
(Wikimedia Commons)

Long overlooked by scholars, this seventh-century Life of the Virgin, attributed to Maximus the Confessor, is the earliest complete Marian biography. Originally written in Greek and now surviving only in Old Georgian, it is now translated for the first time into English. It is a work that holds profound significance for understanding the history of late ancient and medieval Christianity, providing a rich source for understanding the history of Christian piety.

This Life is especially remarkable for its representation of Mary's prominent involvement in her son's ministry and her leadership of the early Christian community. In particular, it reveals highly developed devotion to Mary's compassionate suffering at the Crucifixion, anticipating by several centuries an influential medieval style of devotion known as “affective piety” whose origins generally have been confined to the Western High Middle Ages.

--  Publisher’s description from the Yale University website

February 2013

Fra Giunta Bevegnati. The Life and Miracles of Saint Margaret of Cortona (1247-1297). Translated by Thomas Renna. Franciscan Institute Publications, 2012. ISBN 1576593010 (print); 1576593029 (online)

Fra Giunta Bevegnati. The Life and Miracles of Saint Margaret of Cortona
Life of St. Margaret of Cortona, Italy, circa 1290s
(Wikimedia Commons)

Saint Margaret of Cortona is the light of the Third Order of Francis. Such is the theme of the most extensive biography of any Franciscan Tertiary in the Middle Ages. Margaret’s extraordinary career brings the historian closer to the early development of the Franciscans and the Order of Penance; it tells us much about how women saints were described, and about how civic cults of saints emerged. Another window, although a smaller one, opens to the tensions between the Franciscan Community and the Spiritual Franciscans before the split prior to Pope John XXII. Indeed it could be said that we know more about Margaret of Cortona than about any woman of thirteenth-century Italy, with the exception of Clare of Assisi and Clare of Montefalco. This edition is translated from the critical Latin edition by Fortunato Iozzelli, O.F.M. of The Life of Saint Margaret of Cortona by Fra Giunta Bevegnati. The original translation by Thomas Renna has been edited by Shannon Larson.

Preface 5
Introduction 9
Prologue 43
1. The Life of Margaret in a Secular Habit 45
2. Her Perfect Conversion to God 51
3. Her Austerity and Love of Poverty 75
4. Her Profound Humility 83
5. Meditation on the Passion of Christ 105
6. Her Devout Prayer 149
7. Purity of Conscience and Frequent Confession and Communion 177
8. Her Maternal Piety and Zeal for Souls 205
9. The Revelation of Secrets 227
10. Her Indescribable Fear Concerning All That She Bore, and Her Desire for Her Death 281
11. Miracles 303
Declaration of Authenticity 327
Bibliography 329
Index of Scripture 337

--  Publisher’s description and contents [from the Franciscan Institute Publications website]

January 2013

Melusine; or, The Noble History of Lusignan. Jean d'Arras. Translated and with an introduction by Donald Maddox and Sara Sturm-Maddox. Penn State University Press, 2012.
ISBN 9780271054124

Melusine;  or, The Noble History of Lusignan.
Source: Penn State University Press

Jean d'Arras's splendid prose romance of Melusine, written for Jean de Berry, the brother of King Charles V of France, is one of the most significant and complex literary works of the later Middle Ages. The author, promising to tell us "how the noble and powerful fortress of Lusignan in Poitou was founded by a fairy," writes a ceaselessly astonishing account of the origins of the powerful feudal dynasty of the Lusignans in southwestern France, which flourished in western Europe and the Near East during the age of the Crusades. The spellbinding story of the destinies of the fairy Melusine, her mortal husband, and her extraordinary sons blends history, myth, genealogy, folklore, and popular traditions with epic, romance, and Crusade narrative.

Preceded by a substantial introduction, this translation, the first in English to be amply annotated, captures the remarkable range of stylistic registers that characterizes this extravagant and captivating work.


  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Melusine; or, The Noble History of Lusignan
  • Prologue
  • Crossed Destinies: Melusine and Raymondin
  • Founding Lusignan
  • Raymondin in Brittany
  • Founding a Dynasty in Poitou
  • Urian and Guyon Defend Cyprus
  • Urian and Guyon: The Armenian Campaign
  • Antoine and Renaud in Luxembourg
  • Geoffrey Big-Tooth in Ireland
  • Crisis in the Near East
  • Betrayal, Fratricide, and Loss
  • Geoffrey in Northumberland
  • Raymond: Pilgrimage and Penance
  • Six Sons of Lusignan Defend Alsace
  • Raymond’s Noble Funeral
  • Epilogue I: The Knight of the Tower
  • Epilogue II: The Castle of the Sparrow Hawk
  • The Legacy of Lusignan and the Duke of Berry
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index

--  Publisher’s description and contents [from the Penn State University Press website]

December 2012

Debate of the Romance of the Rose.  Christine de Pizan.  Edited and translated by David F. Hult.  The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe series.  University of Chicago Press, 2010.   
ISBN 9780226670133

Debate of the Romance of the Rose.  Christine de Pizan
Source: University of Chicago Press

In 1401, Christine de Pizan (1365–1430?), one of the most renowned and prolific woman writers of the Middle Ages, wrote a letter to the provost of Lille criticizing the highly popular and widely read Romance of the Rose for its blatant and unwarranted misogynistic depictions of women. The debate that ensued, over not only the merits of the treatise but also of the place of women in society, started Europe on the long path to gender parity. Pizan’s criticism sparked a continent-wide discussion of issues that is still alive today in disputes about art and morality, especially the civic responsibility of a writer or artist for the works he or she produces.

In Debate of the “Romance of the Rose,” David Hult collects, along with the debate documents themselves, letters, sermons, and excerpts from other works of Pizan, including one from City of Ladies—her major defense of women and their rights—that give context to this debate. Here, Pizan’s supporters and detractors are heard alongside her own formidable, protofeminist voice.  The resulting volume affords a rare look at the way people read and thought about literature in the period immediately preceding the era of print.

Series Editors’ Introduction
Volume Editor’s Introduction
Volume Editor’s Bibliography

  • I Christine and the Rose before the Debate
  • 1. From Christine de Pizan, The God of Love’s Letter (May 1, 1399)
  • 2. From Christine de Pizan, Moral Teachings (1399 or 1402?)
  • 3. From Christine de Pizan, The Debate of Two Lovers (1400?)
  • II The Debate: First Phase
  • 4. Jean de Montreuil to Pierre d’Ailly (Late May 1401)
  • 5. Christine de Pizan to Jean de Montreuil (June–July 1401)
  • 6. Jean de Montreuil to a Lawyer (July–August 1401)
  • 7. Jean de Montreuil to a Prelate (July–August 1401)
  • 8. Jean de Montreuil to Gontier Col (July–August 1401)
  • 9. Jean de Montreuil to a Prelate (July–August 1401)
  • 10. Jean de Montreuil to a Lawyer (July–August 1401)
  • 11. Pierre d’Ailly, The Devout Soul’s Garden of Love (Summer 1401?)
  • 12. From Jean Gerson, Considerate lilia (August 25, 1401)
  • 13. Gontier Col to Christine de Pizan (September 13, 1401)
  • 14. Gontier Col to Christine de Pizan (September 15, 1401)
  • 15. Christine de Pizan to Gontier Col (Late September 1401)
  • 16. Christine de Pizan to Isabeau de Bavière (February 1, 1402)
  • 17. Christine de Pizan to Guillaume de Tignonville (February 1, 1402)
  • 18. Christine de Pizan, Account of the Debate (February 1, 1402)
  • III The Debate: Second Phase
  • 19. Jean de Montreuil to a Great Poet (Either February / March or July / August 1402)
  • 20. Jean Gerson, Treatise against the Romance of the Rose (May 18, 1402)
  • 21. Pierre Col to Christine de Pizan (Late Summer 1402)
  • 22. Christine de Pizan to Pierre Col (October 2, 1402)
  • 23. Pierre Col to Christine de Pizan (Fragment, November 1402)
  • IV Aftermath
  • 24. From Jean Gerson, Sermons of the Poenitemini Series (December 1402)
  • 25. Christine de Pizan, Ballade Addressed to the Queen of France (January 1, 1403)
  • 26. Christine de Pizan, Rondeau Addressed to a Lord (January 1, 1403?)
  • 27. Christine de Pizan, Ballade to an Unknown Addressee (January 1, 1403?)
  • 28. Jean Gerson to Pierre Col (Winter 1402–3)
  • 29. Jean de Montreuil to a High- Ranking Prelate (1403–4)
  • V Christine’s Later Mentions of the Romance of the Rose
  • 30. From Christine de Pizan, Book of Fortune’s Transformation (November 1403)
  • 31. From Christine de Pizan, Book of the City of Ladies (1405)
  • 32. From Christine de Pizan, Christine’s Vision (1405)
  • 33. From Christine de Pizan, Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry (1410)

Series Editors’ Bibliography
Index of People and Places
Index of Allegorical Personifications and Mythological and Fictional Characters
--  Publisher’s description and contents [from the University of Chicago website]

November 2012

Source: Ashgate Publishing

Gonzalo de Berceo and the Latin Miracles of the Virgin: A Translation and a Study.  Edited by Patricia Timmons and Robert Boenig.  Ashgate 2012.   
ISBN 9781409441908

In Gonzalo de Berceo and the Latin Miracles of the Virgin, Patricia Timmons and Robert Boenig present the first English translation of a twelfth-century Latin collection of miracles that Berceo, the first named poet in the Spanish language, used as a source for his thirteenth-century Spanish collection Milagros de Nuestra Señora. Using the MS Thott 128, close to the one Berceo must have used, Timmons and Boenig provide both translation and analysis, exploring the Latin Miracles, suggesting how it was used as a sacred text, and placing it within the history of Christians' evolving understanding of the Virgin's role in their lives. In addition, this volume explores Berceo's reaction to the Latin Miracles, demonstrating that he reacted creatively to his source texts as well as to changes in Church culture and governance that occurred between the composition of Latin Miracles and the thirteenth century, translating it across both language and culture. Accessible and useful to students and scholars of medieval and Spanish studies, this book includes the original Latin text, translations of the Latin Miracles, including analyses of 'Saint Peter and the Lustful Monk,' 'The Little Jewish Boy,' and 'The Jews of Toledo.'


  • Preface;
  • Part 1 The Latin Miracles: Gonzalo de Berceo's Milagros de Nuestra Señora and his Latin sources; The Latin Miracles and the History of the Virgin Mary; The Latin Miracles and spiritual reading; The style and artistry of the Latin Miracles.
  • Part 2 The Latin Miracles: Translation: The Latin Miracles: translation; Explanatory notes.
  • Part 3 Berceo's Milagros: The life and times of Gonzalo de Berceo and his audiences; The Fornicating Sexton; The Wedding and the Virgin; The Jews of Toledo; The Little Jewish Boy; The Pregnant Abbess.
  • Part 4 The Latin Miracles: The Thott Latin Miracles of the Virgin; Bibliography; Index.

--  Publisher’s description [from the Ashgate Publishing website]

October 2012

Source: Manchester Univeristy Press 

Women and the Visual Arts in Italy c. 1400–1650.  Luxury and Leisure, Duty and Devotion: A Sourcebook.  Selected, translated, and introduced by Paola Tinagli and Mary Rogers.  Manchester University Press, 2012. 
ISBN 9780674047570 (hardback) and 9780719080999 (paperback)

The anthology of original sources from c.1400 to 1650, translated form Italian or Latin, and accompanied by introductions and bibliographies, is concerned with women’s varied involvement with the visual arts and material culture of their day.

The readers gains a sense of women not only as patrons of architecture, painting, sculpture and the applied arts, but as users of art both on special occasions, like civic festivities or pilgrimages, and in everyday social and devotional life. As they seek to adapt and embellish their persons and their environments, acquire paintings for solace or prestige, or cultivate relationships with artists, women emerge as discerning participants in the consumer culture of their time, and often as lively commentators on it. Their fervent participation in religious life is also seen in their use of art in devotional rituals, or their commissioning of tombs or altarpieces to perpetuate their memory and aid them in the afterlife.

Part I The material world of women
1. Buildings and interiors
2. Beauty, quality and elegance: objects in the house
3. Clothes: legislation, description and uses
4. Ceremony and travel: women participants and observers
Part II Women, secular art and artists: commissioning, buying, preserving
5. The building and embellishment of palaces, villas and gardens
6. Women and their use and commissioning of portraits
7. Relationships with artists
Part III Women, devotion and art
8. Private devotion
9. Communal devotion: spectacles, rituals, miraculous images and pilgrimage
10. Public devotional patronage: personal and collective
Part IV Female artists, craftswomen and writers
11. Female artists and craftswomen
12. Women writing on art and artefacts 

--  Publisher’s description [from the Manchester University Press website]

September 2012

Antonio Beccadelli.  The Hermaphrodite.
Source: I Tatti Renaissance Library

Antonio Beccadelli. The Hermaphrodite. Edited and translated by Holt Parker. I Tatti Renaissance Library Series, 42. Harvard University Press, 2010.
ISBN 9780674047570

Antonio Beccadelli (1394–1471), known as Panormita from his native town of Palermo, was appointed court poet to Duke Filippo Maria Visconti (1429), crowned poet laureate by Emperor Sigismund (1432), and ended his days as panegyrist to King Alfonso V of Aragon and Naples, where he founded the first of the Renaissance Academies. The Hermaphrodite, his first work (1425–26), dedicated to Cosimo de'Medici, won him praise and condemnation. Beccadelli was a pioneer in revitalizing the Latin epigram for its powers of abuse and louche eroticism. Its open celebration of vice, particularly sodomy, earned it public burnings, threats of excommunication, banishment to the closed sections of libraries, and a devoted following. Likened to a "precious jewel in a dunghill," The Hermaphrodite combined the comic realism of Italian popular verse with the language of Martial to explore the underside of the early Renaissance.
-- Publisher's description [from the I Tatti Renaissance Library website]

May 2012

Hildegard of Bingen.  Homilies on the Gospels.  Translated with introduction and notes by Beverly Mayne Kienzle.  Cistercian Publications and Liturgical Press, 2011. 
ISBN  9780879072414 (paper) and 9780879072032 (ebook)

Hildegard of Bingen.  Homilies on the Gospels.
Source: Cistercian Publications

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) is increasingly recognized as one of the most noteworthy and interesting theologians of the Middle Ages. Translated here for the first time from Latin into English, Hildegard’s Homilies on the Gospels is essential for comprehending this twelfth-century mystic’s coherent theological vision. It establishes her as the only known female systematic exegete of the Middle Ages.

Hildegard’s sisters recorded and preserved her informal preaching in this collection of homilies on twenty-seven gospel pericopes. As teacher and superior to her sisters, Hildegard probably spoke to them in the chapter house, with the scriptural text either before her or recited from memory, according to Benedictine liturgical practice. Among her topics here are the themes of salvation history, the drama of the individual soul, the struggle of virtues against vices, and the life-giving and animating force of greenness (viriditas).
--  Publisher’s description [from the Cistercian Publications website]

April 2012

Medieval Conduct Literature: An Anthology of Vernacular Guides to Behaviour for Youths, with English Translations.
Edited by Mark D. Johnston. Medieval Academy Books, No. 111. University of Toronto Press, 2009.
ISBN  9780802098320

Medieval Conduct Literature: An Anthology of 
        Vernacular Guides to Behaviour for Youths with English Translations (Medieval Academy Books)
Source: Amazon     

“Conduct literature is a term used to identify writings that address how one should 'conduct' oneself in social situations. In the medieval period conduct literature was essential reading for nearly all literate children and adolescents to educate them in the expected social behaviours for their culture, gender, and status. Using a comparative approach, this anthology pairs together pieces of male-directed and female-directed medieval conduct literature, many being translated into English for the first time, to present an illuminating picture of medieval gender norms, parenting, literary style, and pedagogy. Containing texts written in six vernacular languages, each section is also accompanied by textual notes, an introduction, and an English translation. A fascinating examination of a diverse range of regions and cultures, Medieval Conduct Literature is a remarkable window into medieval life, customs, behaviour, and social expectations.”
-- Publisher’s description [from the University of Toronto website].

March 2012

Cáin Lánamna: An Old Irish Tract on Marriage and Divorce Law.
Edited and translated by Charlene M. Eska.  Brill, 2010.
ISBN  9789004179059

Saint Thecla and the Wild Beasts, Egypt, 5th century Source: WorldImages
Source: Brill     

“Cáin Lánamna "The Law of Couples", an Old Irish text dated to c. 700, is arguably the most important source of information concerning women and the household economy in early Ireland.  The text describes all the recognized marriages and unions, both legal and illegal, and provides information regarding the allocation of property in the event of a divorce.  The text was heavily glossed over a period of several centuries and provides insights into changes in the Irish legal system.  This book provides, for the first time, an English translation of the entire text and all the accompanying glosses and commentary.  It also includes an introduction to early Irish society, linguistic and legal notes, and a glossary to the tract.” --  Publisher’s description [from Brill’s website]

February 2012

Letters to Francesco Datini.  By Margherita Datini.
Translated by Carolyn James and Antonio Pagliaro.  The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series.  Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2012.
ISBN  9780772721167

Saint Thecla and the Wild Beasts, Egypt, 5th century Source: WorldImages
Source: Centre for Reformation
and Renaissance Studies       

“The letters of Margherita Datini (1360-1423) to her husband Francesco, here translated in English for the first time, provide a wealth of information about the societies of Prato and Florence, between which the Datinis divided their time. Even more remarkably, the letters tell us a great deal about Margherita herself. In them, she reveals her political views and the influence she could exert within Florentine patronage networks by virtue of her aristocratic connections. She also comments in detail on her household, the tasks her husband delegated to her, and the activities and personalities of the relatives and friends with whom she socialized. The complex portrait of everyday life and social relationships in the urban environments of late-medieval Tuscany that emerges from Margherita’s letters is dramatically different from the static, limited view of women’s lives presented in the prescriptive texts of her period.

‘The letters of Margherita Datini to her husband are virtually impossible to put down. Margherita is never obsequious, and never holds her tongue as she chastises Francesco for staying up too late, asks about a case before the Eight of Florence, beseeches him to help friends in prison, worries over financial transactions, and updates him on his business, the harvests, and his illegitimate child (whom she cares for) when he is away. Rich emotional life and historical particulars, the letters are a unique window into late medieval Tuscany and women’s ‘work.’  — Jane Tylus, Professor of Italian Studies and vice provost for academic affairs, New York University” --  Publisher’s description [from the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies website]

January 2012

Miracle Tales from Byzantium.
Translated by Alice-Mary Talbot and Scott Fitzgerald Johnson.  Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, 12. Harvard University Press, 2012.
ISBN  9780674059030

Saint Thecla and the Wild Beasts, Egypt, 5th century Source: WorldImages
Saint Thecla and the Wild Beasts, Egypt, 5th century
Source: WorldImages

“Miracles occupied a unique place in medieval and Byzantine life and thought. This volume makes available three collections of miracle tales never before translated into English. Together, the collections offer an exceptional variety of miracles from the Byzantine era.
First are the fifth-century Miracles of Saint Thekla. Legendary female companion of the Apostle Paul, Thekla counted among the most revered martyrs of the early church. Her Miracles depict activities, at once extraordinary and ordinary, in a rural healing shrine at a time when Christianity was still supplanting traditional religion. A half millennium later comes another anonymous text, the tenth-century Miracles of the Spring of the Virgin Mary. This collection describes how the marvelous waters at this shrine outside Constantinople healed emperors, courtiers, and churchmen. Complementing the first two collections are the Miracles of Saint Gregory Palamas, fourteenth-century archbishop of Thessalonike. Written by the most gifted hagiographer of his era (Philotheos Kokkinos), this account tells of miraculous healings that Palamas performed, both while alive and once dead. It allows readers to witness the development of a saint’s cult in late Byzantium. Saints and their miracles were essential components of faith in medieval and Byzantine culture. These collections deepen our understanding of attitudes toward miracles. Simultaneously, they display a remarkable range of registers in which Greek could be written during the still little-known Byzantine period.” --  Publisher’s description

December 2011

Source: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies
Source: Centre for Reformation and
Renaissance Studies

Antonia Pulci.  Saints’ Lives and Bible Stories for the Stage.
Edited by Elissa B. Weaver.  Translated by James Wyatt Cook.  The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, 7.  Iter and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2010.
ISBN  9780772720733

“Antonia Pulci is the earliest known Italian woman playwright and the first to take her plays to press. Her sacre rappresentazioni (entertaining plays in rhymed octaves) are based on saints’ lives and Old and New Testament stories and feature a variety of female characters—some of her own invention. She was a gifted poet, conveying the religious message of her plays in pleasing rhythms and lively, credible dialogue. Her work enjoyed popular success, and certain of her plays remained in print throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This bilingual edition is the first critical edition of the five plays that can be securely attributed to Pulci: St. Domitilla, St. Guglielma, St. Francis, Prodigal Son, and Destruction of Saul and the Lament of David. Four of the plays appeared in an earlier English verse translation by James Cook, which has been thoroughly revised here.” --  Publisher’s description

November 2011

Old Norse Women’s Poetry: The Voices of Female Skalds.
Edited by Sandra Ballif Straubhaar. Library of Medieval Women. D. S. Brewer, 2011.
ISBN 9781843842712

ISBN: 9780141439914

Old Norse Women's Poetry - boydellandbrewer.com
Source: boydellandbrewer.com

“The rich and compelling corpus of Old Norse poetry is one of the most important and influential areas of medieval European literature. What is less well known, however, is the quantity of the material which can be attributed to women skalds. This book, intended for a broad audience, presents a bilingual edition (Old Norse and English) of this material, from the ninth to the thirteenth century and beyond, with commentary and notes. The poems here reflect the dramatic and often violent nature of the sagas: their subject matter features Viking Age shipboard adventures and shipwrecks; prophecies; curses; declarations of love and of revenge; duels, feuds and battles; encounters with ghosts; marital and family discord; and religious insults, among many other topics. Their authors fall into four main categories: pre-Christian Norwegian and Icelandic skáldkonur of the Viking Age; Icelandic skáldkonur of the Sturlung Age (thirteenth century); additional early skáldkonur from the Islendingasögur and related material, not as historically verifiable as the first group; and mythical figures cited as reciting verse in the legendary sagas (fornaldarsögur).” -- Publisher’s description

  1. Introduction
  2. Part 1: Verse Translations and Commentary
  3. Real People, Real Poetry
  4. Quasi-Historical People and Poetry
  5. Visionary Women: Women's Dream-Verse
  6. Legendary Heroines
  7. Magic-Workers, Prophetesses and Alien Maidens
  8. Trollwomen
  9. Part 2: Prose Translations
  10. Glossary of Names: Persons and Weapons
  11. Time Line
  12. Bibliography

October  2011

Medieval Writings on Secular Women - Source: Amazon.com
Source: Amazon.com


Women’s Writing from the Low Countries 1200-1875: A Bilingual Anthology
Edited by Lia van Gemert (chief editor), Hermina Joldersma, Olga van Marion, Dieuwke van der Poel, and Riet Schenkeveld-van der Dussen.  Amsterdam University Press, 2010.
ISBN 9789089641298

This anthology features 8 authors from the medieval period with facing page English translations and Dutch texts.  The authors address both religious and secular concerns and date from the midthirteenth through the fifteenth century.  Editors have written introductory essays as well as headnotes for each author. 


Introduction: Women's Writing from the Low Countries 1200–1875

  1. Women’s Writing from the Low Countries 1200–1575
    Dieuwke van der Poel and Hermina Joldersma
  2. Women’s Writing from the Low Countries 1575–1875
    Riet Schenkeveld-van der Dussen
  3. Conclusion
    Lia van Gemert and Hermina Joldersma


  1. The Daring Flight of a Soaring Bird: Beatrice of Nazareth
    Wybren Scheepsma
  2. The Agony and the Ecstasy of Divine Love: Hadewijch
    Dieuwke van der Poel
  3. Inspired and Resolute: Alijt Bake
    Wybren Scheepsma
  4. An Urban Anchoress: Berta Jacobs
    José van Aelst
  5. ‘As Sister Souken was wont to say’: The Diepenveen Book of Sisters
    Wybren Scheepsma
  6. ‘Some say that this book was written by a woman named Christine’: The Flemish Book of The City of Ladies
    Orlanda Lie
  7. Recording Practical Experience for Posterity: Barbere Sagers
    Orlanda Lie
  8. What Every Midwife Needs to Know: The Trotula
    Orlanda Lie   

September 2011

Medieval Writings on Secular Women - Source: Amazon.com
Source: Amazon.com

Medieval Writings on Secular Women. Translated and with an introduction by Patricia Skinner and Elisabeth Van Houts.
Penguin Books, 2011.
ISBN: 9780141439914

Features 139 passages concerning women in the Middle Ages organized according to the life cycle of birth, youth, marriage and child rearing, widowhood, and old age and death. Many of the texts are translated into English for the first time, while the editors newly translated other passages for accuracy and freshness. The material dates from the ninth through the fifteenth centuries and ranges across western Europe. The thematic organization encourages comparisons across time and region for issues including education, inheritance, dowry and marriage, slavery, financial management, and health.

April 2011

Title: Ladies, Whores, and Holy Women: A Sourcebook in Courtly, Religious, and Urban Cultures of Late Medieval Germany.
Introductions, translations, and notes by Ann Marie Rasmussen and Sarah-Westphal-Wihl. Medieval German Texts in Bilingual Editions, 5. Medieval Institute Publications, 2010.
ISBN: 9781580441513

Chapter 1 Die Beichte einer Frau / A Woman's Confession
Chapter 2 Schwester Katrei and Die Frau von ein-und-zwanzig Jahren / Sister Catherine and The Twenty-One-Year-Old Woman
Chapter 3 Bücherverzeichnis der Elisabeth von Volkenstorff / Elisabeth of Volkenstorff's Booklist
Chapter 4 Stiefmutter und Tochter / Stepmother and Daughter (Augsburg Redaction and Nuremberg Redaction)
Chapter 5 Ordnung der gemeinen Weiber in den Frauenhäusern / Regulations concerning Prostitutes Dwelling in Brothels

March 2011                                                

The Letters of Heloise and Abelard: A Translation of Their Collected Correspondence and Related Writings Source: Amazon.com
Source: Amazon.com

Authors: Abelard, Peter, and Heloise
Contributors: McLaughlin, Mary Martin, translator and editor, with Bonnie Wheeler
Title: The Letters of Heloise and Abelard: A Translation of Their Collected Correspondence and Related Writings.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.   
ISBN: 9780312229351

Introductory Essay * Part I: The Correspondence of Heloise and Abelard * Abelard’s Letter of Consolation to a Friend: A Story of Calamities * Heloise to Abelard * Abelard to Heloise * Heloise to Abelard * Abelard to Heloise * Heloise to Abelard * Abelard to Heloise: The Origin of Nuns * Abelard to Heloise: A Rule for Nuns * Abelard to Heloise: “On Studies” * Abelard’s Last Letter to Heloise: A Profession of Faith * Part II: Heloise’s Questions (Problemata Heloissae ) * Forty-two Questions Posed by Heloise and Answered by Abelard * Part III: Other Related Letters * Abelard to Bernard of Clairvaux * Abelard to His Comrades * Bernard of Clairvaux to Cardinal Ivo * Bernard of Clairvaux to Pope Innocent II * Peter the Venerable to Pope Innocent II * Peter the Venerable to Heloise * Heloise to Peter the Venerable * Peter the Venerable to Heloise * Letter of Absolution for Abelard from Peter the Venerable * Epitaph for Abelard from Peter the Venerable * Epitaph for Heloise by the Nuns of the Paraclete * Last Epitaph at the Paraclete, 1780.

The Life & Afterlife of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Source: Amazon.com

February 2011  

Contributor: Wolf, Kenneth Baxter, editor and translator
Title: The Sources:
Source: The Life & Afterlife of St. Elizabeth of Hungary: Testimony from Her Canonization Hearings. Oxford University Press, 2011. Pages 83 – 216.
Article Type: Translation
ISBN: 9780199732586

Abstract: This book is a study and translation of the testimony given by witnesses at the canonization hearings of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who died in 1231 at age 24 in Marburg, Germany. In January 1233 and again in January 1235, papal commissioners interviewed hundreds of people as witnesses to the healing miracles associated with Elizabeth’s shrine. What these witnesses said about their maladies and their cures provides an unusually clear window into the workings of a nascent saint cult within the context of rural Germany. When the commission convened for the second time, it also heard from Elizabeth’s four closest associates, the so-called handmaids who had witnessed her transformation —under the guidance of her confessor Conrad of Marburg —from the powerful wife of the Thuringian landgrave (Ludwig IV) to a humble hospital worker in Marburg. Their statements, along with that of Conrad himself, allow for a better understanding of the effects of mendicant spirituality (normally associated with more urban environments) on a woman from the highest levels of German society. [Reproduced from the Oxford scholarship online website http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/public/content/religion/9780199732586/toc.html]

Description: http://www.google.com/intl/en/googlebooks/images/gbs_preview_button1.gif

January 2011

Author: Raymond de Sabanac
Contributor: Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Renate, editor and translator
Title: The Revelations of Constance de Rabastens
Source: Two Women of the Great Schism.Other Voice in Early Modern Europe, Toronto Series, 3. Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2010. Pages 35 – 73.
Article Type: Translation
Subject: Constance de Rabastens, Mystic; Great Schism, 1378-1417; Lay Piety; Mystics; Politics; Popes; Prophecy; Visions; Women in Religion
Geographic Area: France
Century: 14
Author: Zanacchi, Simone
Contributor: Venarde, Bruce L., editor and translator
Title: Life of the Blessed Ursulina of Parma
Source: Two Women of the Great Schism. Other Voice in Early Modern Europe, Toronto Series, 3. Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2010. Pages 75 – 122.
Article Type: Translation
Subject: Diplomacy; Great Schism, 1378-1417; Lay Piety; Mystics; Politics; Popes; Prophecy; Ursulina of Parma, Visions; Women in Religion
Geographic Area: France; Italy
Century: 14- 15
ISBN: 9780772720573
Publisher’s Description: The Great Schism (1378–1417) divided Western Christendom into two groups: those who recognized a pope in Rome and those who recognized one in Avignon. It was a crisis of authority that brought with it spiritual anxiety and political uproar. This book presents the responses of two late medieval women who refused to be passive bystanders to factions tearing Christendom apart. The rural Constance de Rabastens had dramatic visions indicting the
Avignon pope Clement VII, despite his being recognized in her region. The urban Ursulina believed that Christ commanded her to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the Roman and Avignon papacies in order to end the schism.Two Women of the Great Schismtranslates Raymond de Sabanac’s record of Constance’s visionary experiences and Simone Zanacchi’s biography of Ursulina.

December 2010

Anchoress and Abbess in Ninth-century Saxony: The Lives of Liutbirga of Wendhausen and Hathumoda of Gandersheim / translated with an introduction and notes by Frederick S. Paxton. Catholic University of America Press, 2009.
The Life of Liutbirga, Anchoress of Wendhausen, pages 83-117.
The Life of Hathumoda, First Abbess of Gandersheim, pages 119-142.
The Dialogue of Agius on the Death of Hathumoda, pages 143-172.
Around the year 840, Liutbirga, the adopted daughter of a noble Saxon widow, asked to be walled into a cell in a church at one of the family's cloisters for religious women. She spent the last thirty years of her life in her cell, doing penance for her sins, fending off attacks by the devil, and instructing women in religion and handiwork through its one small window. Hathumoda, the daughter of a noble Saxon couple whose progeny would establish the first German empire, became abbess of a similar community of women when she was twelve years old. She too spent the rest of her life there, dying at the age of thirty-four in the course of an epidemic that swept across northwestern Europe. In spite of their confinement, both women made so great an impression on those who knew them that substantial biographies appeared within a few years of their deaths.
In the growing field of early medieval texts in translation, this book presents the first full English translations of the Lives of Liutbirga of Wendhausen, the first anchoress in Saxony, and Hathumoda, the first abbess of Gandersheim. The introduction and notes tell the story of the remarkable survival and transmission of the Lives and describe the ninth-century Saxon world that produced them and their authors.
Although praised by their biographers for their holiness, Liutbirga and Hathumoda are not presented primarily as wonder-working saints, but as real flesh-and-blood women, pursuing sanctity in a world driven by family and ecclesiastical politics as much as spirituality. Histories of the women's families as well as memorials to their heroines, the Lives of Liutbirga and Hathumoda shed new light on a vibrant corner of Christian Europe in the century after Charlemagne. [Reproduced from the Catholic University of America Press website:http://cuapress.cua.edu/default.cfm]
Related Resources:
Description: Description: Description: Google Books

November 2010

Author: Clare of Assisi
Contributor: Mueller, Joan
Title: Clare's "Forma vitae" [See also Joan Mueller's commentary on the "Forma vitae" in Chapter Seven, pages 209-257.]
Source: A Companion to Clare of Assisi: Life, Writings, and Spirituality. Joan Mueller. Brill's Companions to the Christian Tradition, 21. Brill, 2010. Pages 275 – 285.
Article Type: Translation
Subject: Clare of Assisi, Saint; Franciscan Order; Monasticism; Poor Clares Order; Regula; Women in Religion;
Geographic Area: Italy
Century: 13
Related Resources:
Description: Description: Google Books
Year of Publication: 2010.
Language: English
ISSN/ISBN: 9789004182165

Ikone der Heiligen Eudokia, Einlegearbeit in Stein und Elfenbein, 10. Jh.Indexers select a translation each month that is significant in the ideas it presents.  This gives users an opportunity to see a range of newly translated medieval works of importance for women’s and gender studies.  It also will build an archive of references to translations that will be useful as classroom readings.

Depending upon the content, an entire work may be indexed as a single title like the vita of a saint or the collected cartularies of a countess.  But in many cases the translation deals only in part with issues involving women and gender.  In those instances, indexing goes to a deeper level, identifying and describing specific sections within a text.  For example, there are 93 records for pertinent sections in the Siete Partidas.

To see more translations, go to the Advanced Search Page  and put “Translation” in the Article Type box.  Add specific terms to Keyword, Century or Geographical Area as needed.  

There are currently over 1800 records for translations in Feminae.  There are also over 300 records for editions in original languages.

Feminae welcomes unpublished translations and editions that authors may wish to make available.