Medieval women have a hidden story, often wilfully erased by male chroniclers from the Middle Ages as well as later scholars and historians.
New book engages with well-known stories, but in an engaging and new manner
Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It
By Janina Ramirez
PENGUIN UK 2022
The middle ages are seen as a bloodthirsty time of Vikings, saints and kings: a patriarchal society which oppressed and excluded women. But when we dig a little deeper into the truth, we can see that the ‘dark’ ages were anything but.
Oxford and BBC historian Janina Ramirez has uncovered countless influential women’s names struck out of historical records, with the word FEMINA annotated beside them. As gatekeepers of the past ordered books to be burnt, artworks to be destroyed, and new versions of myths, legends and historical documents to be produced, our view of history has been manipulated.
Only now, through a careful examination of the artefacts, writings and possessions, which they left behind, are the influential and multifaceted lives of women emerging. In this new book Janina Ramirez dig into the official records to uncover the true impact of women like Jadwiga, the only female King in Europe, Margery Kempe, who exploited her image and story to ensure her notoriety, or the Loftus Princess, whose existence gives us clues about the beginnings of Christianity in England.
For some, the stories will be well-known. However, others may enjoy to see the medieval world with fresh eyes and discover why these remarkable women were removed from our collective memories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Until 2021, Ramirez was the course director on the Certificate in History of Art at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education. In 2021, Ramirez became Research Fellow in History of Art at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford. She is also known as a TV presenter.
The socalled “Loftus Princess”, a welldressed female found in a grave near Kirkelatham. Source: Wikipedia/Prioryman