This study of the feudal societies of France, England, the Low Countries and southern Germany from 1100 to 1500 brings the varied textures of women's daily lives to light, including the social and legal realities, for queens, noblewomen, nuns, mystics, recluses, peasants, prostitutes and felons.
What was daily life like for mediaeval women? Much of what we know applies to exceptional women, such as Joan of Arc or Eleanor of Aquitaine, both extraordinarly powerful in their own way, while the lives of the majority have been overlooked. Margaret Wade Labarge redresses the balance, giving us an insight into ordinary women's lives in France, England, the Low Countries and southern Germany between 1100 and 1500. From queens, including Marguerite of Provence and Queen Blanche of France, and noblewomen like the wealthy Isabella de Fortibus and Elizabeth de Burgh, to peasants, nuns, mystics, prostitutes and felons, the author shows that women, despite their inferior social and legal status, could exercise power either within the family, within the church, or as rulers or healers. She looks closely at the works of Mahaut of Artois, France's greatest lady of the 14th century, Hildegard of Bingen, the abbess and scholar, and Christine de Pizan, the only professional women writer of her day. These contemporary viewpoints along with the scholarly, yet highly readable, narrative bring the lives of these largely uncelebrated women vividly to life.