Women and Their Literary Work in the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, the Church exerted the greatest influence over how women were perceived, women did not have the opportunity to raise as warriors or queens as in the Ancient Times.
The two main alternatives for a medieval woman were to marry, or to 'take the veil' and become a nun. Almost all female orders required women to live behind the walls of a monastery or within an individual cell, living a life of contemplation, prayer and work. However, there were some women, who broke with the traditional roles assigned to them in several ways during a time when women had no legal rights and were considered a man's property.
Take Heloise for example, she scandalized the 12th century France by having an love affair with her tutor. The letters she exchanged with Abelard are being read to this day, through them we follow their tragic and passionate love affair. Another women, Hildegard of Bingen is known for her writings and music, her music is still performed today, and her spiritual works are read as examples of a feminine interpretation of church and spiritual ideas.
Marie de France, was considered the most revolutionary writer of her time, as it was not common practice for women to author any texts at all, and so was Christine de Pizan, who become the first women to support herself and her children through writing after her husband died and she was left alone.
I have also included a fictional character in this collection, Sheharazad, the narrator of The One Thousand and One Nights. The female characters in the stories fight to make their own choices and live according to their beliefs about freedom, sexuality, and love, as the other women in this collection.
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