Medieval Writings on Secular Women

Medieval Writings on Secular Women

Introduction by: Patricia Skinner
Introduction by: Elisabeth van Houts
Editor: Patricia Skinner
Editor: Elisabeth van Houts

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780141439914
  • 448 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


‘Woman, who is equal to the moon in the flower of youth, Is equal to a little old ape after the onset of old age’ This remarkable collection brings together a host of writings from across different regions and cultures of the Middle Ages, from the ninth to the fifteenth century. They are arranged to follow the life stages of a Medieval woman living a secular existence, from infancy and girlhood, through marriage and motherhood, to widowhood and old age. Some women are famous or captured in exceptional circumstances, many more are anonymous: an abandoned baby in Italy, or an epitaph for the female leader of a Synagogue, speaking across the ages. This selection contains an introduction discussing the Medieval woman’s status, separate introductions to each chapter, notes and a bibliography.


“An admirable variety of writings (almost 140 of them!) on the stages of women’s lives and the ranges of women’s concerns.  Were I teaching a course on medieval history or culture, this would be a text to consider for adoption.” —William Cotton, Associate Professor, Loyola University, New Orleans, LA
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