Guest Fest, al-Barran
Meet People and Learn Things

Women and Work in the Middle Ages
Countess Monika von Zell, May 3, 2007

Mistress Monika shared with us many stories of realities and details of women's lives based on evidence from paintings, letters, church documents and other sources. As a beginning exercise, participants had a chance to choose from a pile of brief accounts of women from the period, which we read and then summarized for the group. Stories included:

a weaver from Germany
a woman from Holland who wrote on gender-neutral intelligence and medicine
a philosophy professor who sculpted, etched glass, and painted for money (same Hollander)
a prioress in England who wrote and illustrated a treatise on fishing
a stonemason and sculptor in Germany
a doctor of medicine in France
a pirate in Gotland (who had been a princess, but ran away, found her true love and had a baby girl)
a blacksmith in Germany
an author, a biographer and researcher in France
a textile merchant who sponsored a hospital and food for the poor

     those brief biographies were from Uppity Women of the Middle Ages.

Some of the many other books Monika brought were:
800 Years of Women's Letters (Biography, Letters & Diaries), by Olga Kenyon
Legend of Good Women: Medieval Women in Towns and Cities, by Erika Uitz, 1988
A History of their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present (two volumes)

Five estates of women were discussed:

Those categories were based on a research paper Monika had done for a seminar a few years back. The text of the paper is here:


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