Six Trailblazing Medieval Women: BBC History Magazine

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), a scientist, doctor of medicine, musician, philosopher and theologian. Photo by ullstein bild via Getty Images
Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), a scientist, doctor of medicine, musician, philosopher and theologian. Photo by ullstein bild via Getty Images

I’m delighted to say that my article on “Six Trailblazing Medieval Women” has appeared on the BBC History Magazine website. My editors at Oxbow Books who publish A Medieval Woman’s Companion: Women’s Lives in the European Middle Ages arranged this connection. Social media is a great way to share the lives of dynamic and influential of women from the past. I hope you enjoy reading about the playwright Hrotsvit of Gandersheim; Margaret of Beverley who unexpectantly fought in the Crusades; profound writer and famous lover Heloise d’Argenteuil;  audacious innovator Hildegard von Bingen; vocal feminist Christine de Pizan; and matchless matriarch Margaret Paston.

Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Peter Abélard. (© Quagga Media/Alamy Stock Photo)
Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Peter Abélard. (© Quagga Media/Alamy Stock Photo)

Catherine Morland, Jane Austen’s heroine in Northanger Abbey (1803), laments, “I read [history] a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all—it is very tiresome….” Poor Catherine! If only she could come back today, when much medieval history focuses on gender and the everyday experiences of the vibrant, dynamic, and unexpected lives of women from the medieval period.


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