When I explain to people that I study women and politics in the medieval world, I’ve repeatedly heard the response ‘Oh, so you’re a gender historian then?’ At first, I would nod and say ‘Yes, I suppose so’. However, as I’ve gone further with my research I’ve become increasingly uneasy with this response.
Our image of women in the medieval world tends to be somewhat grim. As one historian has put it, we see them as having two choices in life: either marriage or the cloister. When we look at the sources from this period, those women who appear are frequently being criticised, condemned or ill-treated by men … More Medieval women – only marriage and the cloister?