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Big leaf Mapleshelly_rae wrote
on August 25th, 2012 at 03:50 pm

Like your list of women. We could make it very, very long.
When I taught medieval lit eons ago I had a special fondness for Marie de France, Christine De Pizan, Heloise, and Margery Kempe. Here are three medieval woman of no "exceptional" upbringing. They were women of their time. Yet, Marie de France wrote some of the most powerful female oriented romances around. Constrained ladies who escape using their powers and knights who are somehow feminized. (keep in mind this is a brief lj post, not a formal paper discussion.) Christine de Pizan taught at university in Paris, supported her family doing so and wrote City of Ladies--possibly one of the earliest feminist eutopias--no men allowed in this city. Her book on chivalry and arms was highly copied but often--this sound familiar?--people couldn't believe that a woman wrote it so her name was left off the copies. Heloise, well, Abelard gets the big news because he was castrated but really? Heloise took a bad situation (she too was highly educated) and became not only a terrific writer but she successfully ran an abbey that became wealthy and grew under her guidance.

Then there's Margery Kempe. I adore Margery but she is not easy to like. She 'wrote the first autobiography in English' (lost except in reference until 1936). She tells stories, weeps for Christ, starts two business and fails, makes a deal with her husband at the crossroads, has 8 children, and travels to Jerusalem at least twice, Germany once, and all over England. She visited Julian of Norwich (female mystic enclosed in the walls of a church), she was brought up on charges of lollardry twice and successfully defended herself. And generally annoyed and delighted people. But beyond that, she makes it clear that she wasn't the only one. Many women traveled to the holy lands, or across England, they started businesses, they talked, visited, worked, had adventures, they did not sit at home waiting for knights to come home or if they did they managed the world around them while the men were gone.</p>

I'll get off the soapbox now. Sometimes I just want to well, you know, mow the lawn.

Anon


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