Extraordinary Women of the Medieval and Renaissance World: A Biographical Dictionary

By Carole Levin; Debra Barrett-Graves et al. | Go to book overview

Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem; and Nzinga, Queen of Angola, in Africa.

Because this work focuses on women in history who have been largely "unsung" and who represent a wide range of backgrounds, some originally intended subjects have had to be omitted because of insufficient information. A few extraordinary women have been included, however, even if complete biographical information was not available. For example, Jacqueline Félicie worked as a physician in Paris in the early fourteenth century, and for practicing medicine without a license--as a woman she could not be licensed--she was brought before the Inquisition. The transcripts noted in the profile provide the only information we have about Félicie; after her trial, she disappears from recorded history.

The purpose of this collection is to make the lives of these extraordinary women available to a wider audience and to encourage further studies of their lives and of the lives of other medieval and Renaissance women. In numerous ways the lives of the women profiled here were remarkable and provide lessons for later generations. As we enter a new millennium, women and men of today need to know about and celebrate the courageous and impressive lives of women who have lived before them.

Carole Levin


NOTES
1.
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own ( 1929; New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991).
2.
Two pioneers of medieval and Renaissance women's history were Eileen Power , Medieval Women, ed. M. M. Postan ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), and Ruth Kelso, Doctrine for the Lady of the Renaissance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1956). More recently, Natalie Davis and Joan Kelly transformed the field. For Kelly, see Women, History, & Theory: The Essays of Joan Kelly ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986). For Davis, some very important early essays were collected in Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975). Davis's bibliography is long and stellar. For an important recent work, see Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives ( Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1995). For those who would like to read more on women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, see the selected bibliography.

-xvii-

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