Aristocratic Women in Medieval France

Aristocratic Women in Medieval France

Aristocratic Women in Medieval France

Aristocratic Women in Medieval France

Synopsis

Offers five case studies of women from the mid-eleventh through the thirteenth centuries, and from regions as diverse as Blois-Chartres, Champagne, Flanders, and Occitania. This title shows not only the diversity of life experiences these women enjoyed but the range of social and political roles open to them.

Excerpt

This volume originated in a remark and an invitation by Fredric L. Cheyette in 1993. Despite the current interest in medieval women, he observed, there still lacked close studies of women’s lives and their exercise of lordship in the central Middle Ages. Was it not time for historians working “on the ground,” as it were, to explore the lives and actions of women within their regional settings, especially in France where women were conspicuously absent from recent works of medieval social history? To that end, the authors of this volume were invited to prepare chapters on aristocratic women in the regions of France they already knew well.

Our undertaking took us far beyond what seemed initially a straightforward task. As we reread familiar source materials with our new questionnaire, we were forced to discard powerful older, but clearly outmoded, interpretive models of medieval social and familial organization in order to form a coherent view of aristocratic women consonant with the documentary evidence. Our chapters also reflect the shared insights and approaches that emerged in a most collegial interchange of reading and commenting on one another’s contributions. In appreciation for this opportunity to explore beyond the seemingly known and certain, we dedicate this volume to Fred.

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