Category Archives: Women

Magical obstetrics

There is something ultimately mysterious about the birth of a child, even now. We don’t know what governs sex selection in conception of a child, why some babies are stillborn, why some identical twins are conjoined, or how mutations happen. … Continue reading

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Medieval gynecology

Early medieval traditional medicine gave due respect to the particular needs of women. Irregular periods and infertility, labor that’s timely and complete, and post-birth appearance of milk were the three basic problems for women. Some of the herbal remedies are still used, … Continue reading

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Medieval craftsman’s wife

The life of a medieval woman in town is closer to our modern ideas than the other pathways (such as the castle lady or peasant’s wife).  This isn’t coincidental, since modern life developed from the roots of those medieval towns. … Continue reading

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Christine de Pizan

Around 1400, the most famous woman author was Christine de Pizan (or Pisan, both short for Pizzano, south of Bologna, Italy). Christine spent her life at the French court, originally moving there as an infant when her father was hired … Continue reading

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Heloise d’Argenteuil, an educated medieval woman

Following on my profile of the life of a male university graduate, I want to profile two highly educated women of the Middle Ages, whose lives turned out quite differently. First, since I mentioned her yesterday, Heloise d’Argenteuil. What we … Continue reading

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Early medieval ladies

This post is a follow-up to an earlier one about the lives of castle ladies. Prior to 1100, medieval ladies didn’t have castles, they had halls. There was one key difference that completely shaped the lady’s life. That is, instead … Continue reading

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Wearing Anglo-Saxon saucer brooches

In my book, A Companion to Beowulf, there is an artist’s reconstruction of how the brooches and beads might have been worn. At Pannebaker Press’s website you can see a discussion of how we came to decisions about them, with … Continue reading

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Gossip at the Council of Piacenza

We remember the Council of Clermont, in 1095, as the launchpad of the First Crusade. But in order to understand why the Crusade was called, we need to look at the Council of Piacenza, held earlier in the same year. … Continue reading

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Kievan interlude

To take note of today’s news of fiery uprising in Kiev, I’m going to duck to one side of the Islamic developments I’ve been tracking, and instead look at Anne of Kiev, a Queen of France. Anne’s grandmother may have … Continue reading

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Social change after the plague: the occult

In the world after the plague, the occult had a much larger role. It isn’t hard to argue that pagan magic had never entirely stopped when Europe became officially Christian; but there is also no question that “black” magic, power … Continue reading

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