Medieval Gender Roles Were Much More — and Less — Strict Than We Can Imagine

History Unplugged Podcast


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, today’s guest and author of the new book “Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It,” has uncovered countless influential women’s names struck out of historical records, with the word FEMINA annotated beside them. Only now, through a careful examination of the artefacts, writings and possessions they left behind, are the influential and multifaceted lives of women emerging. Femina goes beyond the official records to uncover the true impact of women, such as: · Jadwiga, the only female King in Europe · Margery Kempe, who exploited her image and story to ensure her notoriety · Loftus Princess, whose existence gives us clues about the beginnings of Christianity in England