Every Spring Christ Church holds a Special Interest Weekend open to the public. In April 2014 we are having a single topic weekend on 'Politics, Patronage and Prostitution: The Experiences of Medieval Women'. This weekend offers the chance to hear papers from a group of specialists on those matters which involved and concerned women generally. By sampling some individuals, such as Christine de Pisan, Heloise, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Joan of Arc, as well as taking a look at the experiences of those less famous, we shall endeavour to answer the question: what was it like for women to live in the medieval world?
In her 1929 book, A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf expressed her frustration that, after a day in the British Museum, she could find no viable facts about women or the origins of misogyny or even a description of how women lived. She would be astonished at the transformation that took place at the end of her century and at the vibrancy of research into every aspect of the lives of medieval women.
Despite the undeniable dominance of a patriarchal view in the medieval world and the lack of an independent legal identity for women, the survival of a huge quantity of source material about them in all sections of society has made it possible reconstruct their experiences – whether they were queens, nobles, urban dwellers or nuns.
A landmark source is the advice literature of the Italian-born Christine de Pisan (d.c.1430), whose own life stands as a model of what could be achieved. She was the first woman to write about how all women ought to behave, but her works remind the historian that a great gap exists between what writers thought women ought to do and what they actually did in practice. This weekend offers the chance to hear papers from a group of specialists on those matters which involved and concerned women generally. Marriage was the common experience of most women but, through the remarkable life of Heloise (d.1164), we shall explore in part the world of nuns. Queenship offered women the highest possible office and none is better known, yet as enigmatic, as Eleanor of Aquitaine (d.1204). Many were wealthy and used their riches to support the arts while others struggled to make ends meet, sometimes living as prostitutes. Few are as intriguing as Joan of Arc, who remains shrouded in mystery. By sampling some individuals we shall endeavour to answer the question: what was it like for women to live in the medieval world?
Further details of 'Politics, Patronage and Prostitution: The Experiences of Medieval Women' are available in the conference leaflet, which is attached in pdf format.
Online booking is available by clicking the red button below. It is also possible to book by completing and returning the attached booking form. Full payment is required at the time of booking.
If you have any queries or would like a hard copy of the conference leaflet, please email:
or telephone + 44 (0)1865 286848
|Medieval Women Leaflet.pdf||1.66 MB|
|Booking Form. Medieval Women.pdf||39.06 KB|
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