- Paperback: 266 pages
- Publisher: Ignatius Press; 1st edition (March 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0898706424
- ISBN-13: 978-0898706420
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,775,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Women in the Days of the Cathedrals Paperback – March, 1998
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In "Women in the days of the cathedrals," Pernoud's chapter, "Love, the invention of the twelfth century..." speaks for her book. Here, she shows how love and courtesy coexisted, intermingling, growing together; and her following chapter, Fontevrault, describes the origins of, and conduct in, an abbey in which women and men were governed by an abbess who was required to be a formerly married woman.
With chapters on Homemakers, Femininity, Marriage and Economic and Political activities, Pernoud explores the lives of women for almost a millennium, finding that positive, culturally active elements abound. This is surely a book for Women's Studies courses.
Pernoud had a long, distinguished career as a medieval scholar, with unrestricted access to the National Archives of France (a privilege extended to few), where she worked to develop the Museum of History of France. With two books about Joan of Arc to her credit, and others about Hildegard of Bingen and Blanche of Castile, Pernoud understood that the middle ages were far from unrelieved misery. For many, life was a joy. She held that view to the end. Her final title, "Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths," appeared in English only after her death.
A fascinating book
Author of "Power of a Woman. Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine"
(Eleanor writes her memoirs)
First of all, Pernoud says a number of women living in the Middle Ages were queens in their own right. She names these rulers--and some better known than others largely owing to the writing of male historians who seemed to have concentrated on queens married to illustrious men. Of course, there was Eleanor of Aquataine--the grandmother of Europe--who was the wife of both a French and an English king (in succession). She went on a Crusade with her French King. Later, she married Henry II and became the mother of Richard I and poor John of the Magna Carta fame. But Eleanor had some pretty well situated daughters also, and Pernoud tells the reader about them. Also, Eleanor's mother-in-law was the famous Matilda, who sparred with her usurper cousin Stephen for the English throne, which she finally secured for her son Henry II. Another, lesser known queen was a Matilda who along with Agnes of Poitou played a major role in the reforms of the church in the 11th Century by siding with the Pope against the Holy Roman Emperor. "Matilda Dei gratia si quid est" -- Matilda by the grace of God if she is anything.
Hildegard von Bingen has become known in our age because of her beautiful music, and of course many other women were powerful Abbesses in their own right--or Saints like Joan of Arc. I found interesting Pernoud's assertion that the Celtic and Germanic tribes welcomed Christianity because it reinforced their notions of equality of the sexes and the hearth and home as the center of life. So, not only were women queens of countries and lords of fiefdoms, they were "queens" of households. Pernoud points out what any archeologist will tell you--family wealth is centered in the hearth and home--combs, copper pots, and gold crosses.
And Charing Cross? That's named for Eleanor of Castile, granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquataine. When she died, her husband had a gold cross mounted everywhere they had lived. One site can be found at the Charing Cross station in London. Charing Cross is a corruption of "Chere reine" -- beloved queen.