The lives and actions of medieval women were carefully controlled and restricted by the men who ruled the homes, countries and world they lived in. It was men who fought wars, made laws and dictated religious doctrine. It was men who were taught to read, trained to rule and who were expected to fight to defend their people and country. Today, it is easy to think that all women from this era were down-beaten, retiring and obedient housewives, whose soul purpose was to give birth to children (preferably boys) and serve their husbands. 'Heroines of the Medieval World' looks at the lives of the women – some well known and some almost forgotten to history – who broke the mould; those who defied social norms and made their own future, consequently changing lives, society and even the course of history.
Some of the women featured you will have heard of, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was not only a duchess in her own right, but also Queen Consort of France through her first marriage, Queen Consort of England through her second, a crusader, a rebel and Regent of England. Then there are those who have been all but forgotten by history, including Nicholaa de la Haye, the remarkable women who defended Lincoln Castle in the name of King John, and Maud de Braose, who spoke out against the same king’s excesses and who’s death (or murder) was the inspiration for a clause in the Magna Carta.
Women had to walk a fine line in the Middle Ages, but many learned to survive – even flourish – in this male-dominated world. Some led armies, while others made their influence felt in more subtle ways, but all made a contribution to the medieval world and should be remembered for daring to defy and lead in a world that demanded they obey and follow.
15 Sep 2017
Available on: Friday 15th September 2017