Our perception of women in medieval England and Wales is that they were merely chattels, who were expected to be mute recipients of the patriarchal dominance of their menfolk. Yet this misconception is very far from the truth. Medieval women used a variety of strategies, depending on rank and circumstance, to make their way in the world; to live, love, work, and express their spirituality in their own unique way, and to exercise power and influence upon their world.
On this course, we will use a wide variety of sources, not least the words of the women themselves, to explore the narrative of their lives. Although a few of the women have been brought to public attention in recent years through popular historical fiction, most of the women studied will be unknown to the casual reader of Medieval history, and come from all walks of life, from castle to monastic cell, the gallows to the world of literature.
The tutor, Gill Rossini, although better known as a social historian of later centuries, started out her career as a Medieval historian. With this course, she returns to her first love to bring the colourful, precarious world of late Medieval England and Wales to a new audience. Attenders need not have any experience of studying the period.