A Medieval Woman's Companion: Women's Lives in the European Middle Ages [Paperback]

Susan Signe Morrison(Author)

ISBN: 9781785700798 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2015 | Language: English 176p, H8.3 x W5.8, black/white illustrations
Status: In Stock - Available

A Medieval Woman's Companion


2016 Foreword INDIES Award Winner in 3 Categories:
-Bronze: Women's Studies
-Honorable Mention: History
-Honorable Mention: Young Adult Nonfiction
What have a deaf nun, the mother of the first baby born to Europeans in North America, and a condemned heretic to do with one another? They are among the virtuous virgins, marvelous maidens, and fierce feminists of the Middle Ages who trail-blazed paths for women today. Without those first courageous souls who worked in fields dominated by men, women might not have the presence they currently do in professions such as education, the law, and literature.
Focusing on women from Western Europe between c. 300 and 1500 CE in the medieval period and richly carpeted with detail, A Medieval Woman’s Companion offers a wealth of information about real medieval women who are now considered vital for understanding the Middle Ages in a full and nuanced way. Short biographies of 20 medieval women illustrate how they have anticipated and shaped current concerns, including access to education; creative emotional outlets such as art, theater, romantic fiction, and music; marriage and marital rights; fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, contraception and gynecology; sex trafficking and sexual violence; the balance of work and family; faith; and disability. Their legacy abides until today in attitudes to contemporary women that have their roots in the medieval period. The final chapter suggests how 20th and 21st century feminist and gender theories can be applied to and complicated by medieval women's lives and writings.
Doubly marginalized due to gender and the remoteness of the time period, medieval women’s accomplishments are acknowledged and presented in a way that readers can appreciate and find inspiring. Ideal for high school and college classroom use in courses ranging from history and literature to women's and gender studies, an accompanying website with educational links, images, downloadable curriculum guide, and interactive blog will be made available at the time of publication.

Table of Contents


1. Gudrun Osvifsdottir: Viking Vixen
2. Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir: Fearless Explorer
3. Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: First Woman Playwright
4. Anglo-Saxon and Norman Women: Political Power Dynasties and Steadfast Sovereigns [Emma of Normandy; St. Margaret of Scotland; Matilda of Scotland]
5. The Importance of Language

6. St. Christina of Markyate: Resolute Virgin
7. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Cougar
8. Margaret of Beverley: Fighting Crusader

9. Anna Komnene: Dutiful Daughter
10. Understanding the Female Body: Misogyny and Sympathy
11. Trota of Salerno: Compassionate Physician
12. Hildegard von Bingen: Audacious Innovator
13. Heloise d’Argenteuil: Scandalous Nun
14. Marie de France: Rhyming Romancer

15. Women Troubadours/Trobairitz: Clever Composers
16. Margueritte Porete: Heroic Heretic
17. St. Birgitta of Sweden: Righteous Reformer
18. Margery Kempe: Peerless Pilgrim

19. Christine de Pizan: Vocal Feminist
20. Joan of Arc: Savior of France
21. Textile Concerns: Holy Transvestites and the Dangers of Cross-Dressing

22. Teresa de Cartagena: Foremother of Deaf Culture
23. Margaret Paston: Matchless Matriarch
24. Looking Forward: Contemporary Feminist Theory and Medieval Women

Primary Sources
Secondary Sources

Reviews & Quotes

"“[Morrison’s] book, so rich in material, serves to challenge any argument that there simply aren’t enough records of medieval women’s writings to merit their inclusion…. Deliberately and artfully smashes every male, medieval argument against the female of the species with a pen as keen as any sword.” "
(March 24, 2017)

"“Susan Signe Morrison's new general-interest book about medieval women has been deservedly nominated for awards in women's studies, young adult non-fiction, and history. It is a wonderfully illustrated and pleasant read, touring its audience through short biographies of notable women of the Christian, European Middle Ages while simultaneously providing context and historical overview… Morrison succeeds in her project to present an accessible and relevant group of medieval women to her audience… The book as a whole provides a friendly, accessible user experience.”"


"A Medieval Woman's Companion is—I'm not exaggerating here—the best introduction I know of to the widely-varied lives of medieval women. In this rich, information-filled book, Susan Signe Morrison gives women of the Middle Ages their due as explorers, creators, crusaders, sovereigns, physicians, innovators, lovers, matriarchs, poets, troubadours, reformers, and, yes, feminists."
Susan Wittig Albert

"“Morrison does a superb job of making medieval women accessible to mainstream audiences, and tying in traditional and digital sources.” "
Sandra Alvarez
(Vol. 3, No. 4. Mar 2, 2017)

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