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John M. Kelly Library

Research Guide to Women in the Middle Ages

PDF version

This research guide is designed for use particularly by undergraduate students in the Mediaeval Studies Program. It was originally produced by Harriet Sonne de Torrens and is now maintained by Richard Carter. It was last updated August 2011.

General Reference

Women in the Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia.

Edited by Katharina M. Wilson and Nadia Margolis. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2004. 2 volumes.
[St. Michael's Library 1st Floor Reference Area - HQ1143 .W643 2004]
This 2-volume set contains multi-page scholarly articles on individual women and on broad topics relating to women between the second and fifteenth centuries. The lengthy bibliographies include both primary and secondary sources.

Encyclopedia of Women in the Middle Ages.

By Jennifer Lawler. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001.
[PIMS Library, 4th Floor Kelly Library - HQ1143 .L38 2001 IMSF]
With entries on women from England, France, Germany, Japan, and other nations, this 1-volume work covers the culture, history and circumstances of medieval women from 500 to 1500 A.D.

Women in the Middle Ages [Videorecording].

Produced by the Media Centre and Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto; directed by Gail Singer and Amy Bodman. Toronto: University of Toronto, Information Commons, 2011.
[Media Commons Library, 3rd Floor Robarts Library - VideoDVD 757216]

An Annotated Index of Medieval Women.

By Anne Echols and Marty Williams. New York: Markus Wiener Publishing, 1992.
[St Michael's 1st Floor Reference Area - CT3220 .A56 1992]
[Robarts Library 4th Floor Reference Ara - CT3220 .A56 1992]
This work offers short entries on hundreds of medieval women, plus methods for finding women based on when and where they lived, as well as by their occupation. Contains a large bibliography of primary and secondary sources that are useful for the study of women in the Middle Ages.

Extraordinary Women of the Medieval and Renaissance World.

By Carole Levin. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2000.
[Victoria College, Pratt Library Reference Area - HQ 1143 .E93 2000]
[Robarts Library 11th Floor Stacks - HQ1143 .E93 2000X]
This resource brings together biographical profiles of 70 women, representing 18 countries. They include artists, builders, mystics, political leaders, religious activists, diarists and dramatists, poets and writers, and scholars.

Early Modern Women Database.

This database, created by the University of Maryland, links to World Wide Web resources useful for the study of women in early modern Europe and the Americas. It focuses on the period ca. 1500 to ca. 1800. Search by keyword, or browse by title, subject, type or resource, time period, language, or geographic area.

Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

An index to journal articles, essays, and reviews of books about women, sexuality, and gender in the Middle Ages.

General Studies

Women's Writing in Middle English.

Edited by Alexandra Barratt. Longman Annotated Texts. 2nd ed. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2010.
[St. Michael's 2nd Floor - PR1120 .W66 2010]

Medieval Women.

By Eileen Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1143 .P68]
Divided into five sections: Medieval ideas about women; The lady; The working woman in town and country; The education of women; Nunneries.

The Fourth Estate: A History of Women in the Middle Ages.

Revised edition. By Shulamith Shahar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1143 .S5213 2003]
Concentrates on western Europe; one of the most influential works on this topic.

Studying Medieval Women: Sex, Gender, Feminism.

Edited by Nancy F. Partner. Cambridge: The Medieval Academy of America, 1993.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1143 .S78 1993]
A collection of articles from an issue of the journal Speculum, all of which deal with women in the Middle Ages.

Power of the Weak: Studies on Medieval Women.

Edited by Jennifer Carpenter and Sally Beth MacLean. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1143 .P69 1995]
Contains seven essays on a wide range of topics.

Women in Medieval English Society.

Prepared for the Economic History Society by Mavis E. Mate. Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1999.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1599 .E5 M38 1999]
Women in religious,economic, educational, and political life from 600-1530.

Women in Medieval Society.

By Brenda M. Bolton ... [et al.] ; edited by Susan Mosher Stuard. [Philadelphia] : University of Pennsylvania Press, 1976.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1143 .W64]
A collection of articles concerning the legal aspects of women in medieval society. A range of topics are discussed such as infanticide, divorce, female felon, doweries and child custody.

Memory and Gender in Medieval Europe, 900-1200.

By Elisabeth van Houts. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 1999.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - D113 .V36 1999]
The author examines the role of memory and perceptions of gender in the literary sources in central Europe from c. 900 - 1200 in chronicles and annals, saints' lives and miracles and family histories. The last chapter examines the use of other non-literary objects to record memories. Includes a selected annotated bibliography and index.

Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900 - 1700.

By Eva Levin. Ithica, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989.
[Robarts Library 11th Floor Stacks - HQ18 .E852 L48 1989]
Includes a bibliography.

The Lady in Medieval England 1000-1500.

By Peter Coss. [S.l.] : Wrens Park Publishing, 1999.
[St Michael's - HQ1147 .G7 C677 1999]
Illustrated, with recommended reading list and index.

Clothes Make the Man : Female Cross Dressing In Medieval Europe.

Valerie R. Hotchkiss. New York : Garland, 1996.
[Robarts - HQ 77 .H67 1996X]
[Pontifical Institute - HQ77 .H67 1996]

The Depiction of Women in Medieval French Manuscript Illumination.

By Patricia M. Gathercole. Lewiston, NY : Edwin Mellen Press, 2000.
[St Michael's - ND3337.5 .G38 2000]
Includes 29 plates.

Women in the Days of Cathedrals.

By Regine Pernoud. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1147 .F7 P4713 1998]
Concentrates on women in medieval France.

Women in Medieval Italian Society, 500 - 1200.

By Patricia Skinner. London: Longman, 2001.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1147 .I8 S58 2001]

Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450 - 1500.

By Henrietta Leyser. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1147 .G7 L49 1995]

Women in Medieval Western European Culture.

Edited by Linda E. Mitchell. New York: Garland Publishing, 1999.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1147 .E85 W655 1999]
A collection of twenty essays, grouped into various categories, including law, marriage, work, religion, and art.

Women at the Burgundian Court: Presence and Influence.

Edited by Dagmar Eichberger, Anne-Marie Lega Anne-Marie Legar and Wim Hskin. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2010.
[PIMS Library, 4th Floor Kelly Library - DC611 .B78 W6545 2010 IMS]: Library Use Only.

Primary Sources

Woman Defamed and Woman Defended : An Anthology of Medieval Texts.

Edited by Alcuin Blamires ; with Karen Pratt and C.W. Marx. Oxford [England] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1992.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - PR1912 .A2 W65 1992]
A selection of primary texts grouped according to their role in formulating medieval antifeminism. The selections reveal the early roots in pre-Christian material, the theme in writings of the Church Fathers, antifeminist tales and concludes with defensive responses by contemporary figures.

Medieval Women and the Sources of Medieval History.

Edited by Joel T. Rosenthal. Athens : University of Georgia Press, 1990.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor- HQ1143 .M44 1990]
A collection of essays addressing the perceptions of women in a number of different sources such as French sigillographic sources, Old Norse sources, in obstetric and gynecological literature, coins and saints' lives.

Women's Lives in Medieval Europe : A Sourcebook.

Edited by Emilie Amt. New York : Routledge, 1993.
[Robarts - HQ1143 .W65 1993]
[New College Library - HQ1143 .W65 1993]
[Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Library - DA 170 .W655 1995]
Includes index and bibliography.

Women in England, c. 1275-1525: Documentary Sources.

Translated and edited by P.J.P. Goldberg. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.
[Robarts - DA170 .W655 1995X]
[Pontifical Library - DA170 .W655 1995]
Includes index and bibliography.

Internet Medieval Sourcebook - Selected Sources on Sex and Gender

Links to primary source material available online.

Bibliography on Women in Byzantium

Compiled by Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies. Includes a list of primary sources available in translation, secondary sources, and web resources.

Religion, Church and Convent Life

Gender and Power in Medieval Exegesis.

By Theresa Tinkle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
[St. Michael's 3rd Floor - BR163 .T56 2010]

Sex, Gender, and Episcopal Authority in an Age of Reform, 1000-1122.

By Megan McLaughlin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
[St. Michael's 3rd Floor - BX1200 .M3 2010]

Women and Religion in Late Medieval Norwich.

By Carole Hill. Royal Historical Society Studies in History: New Series. London: Royal Historical Society/Boydell Press, 2010.
[PIMS Library, 4th Floor Kelly Library - HQ1147 .G7 H56 2009 IMS]: Library Use Only
[Robarts Library - HQ1147 .G7 H56 2010]

Ladies, Whores, and Holy Women: A Sourcebook in Courtly, Religious, and Urban Cultures of Late Medieval Germany.

Introductions, translations, and notes by Ann Marie Rasmussen and Sarah Westphal-Wihl. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2010.
[St. Michael's 3rd Floor - BX4220 .G7 W37 2001]

Spiritual Economies : Female Monasticism In Later Medieval England.

By Nancy Bradley Warren. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001. The Middle Ages series.
[St Michael's - BX4220 .G7 W37 2001]
Includes extensive notes and a good index.

Holy Women of Byzantium: Ten Saints' Lives in Engish Translation.

Byzantine Saints' Lives in Translation, no.1. Edited by Alice-Mary Talbot. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1996.
[St Michael's - BX393 .H65 1996]
Each translation is preceded by an introduction and bibliography.

Woman under Monasticism.

By Lina Eckenstein. New York: Russell & Russell, 1963.
[St Michael's - BX4200 .E34 1963 SMC]
Includes an index.

Women's Monasticism and Medieval Society: Nunneries in France and England, 890-1215.

By Bruce L. Venarde. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.
[St Michael's - BX4220 .E85 V46 1997]
A study of religious orders for women from 600-1500.

The Convent And The Community in Late Medieval England: Female Monasteries in the Diocese of Norwich, 1350-1540

By Marilyn Oliva. Woodbridge, Suffolk ; Rochester, NY : Boydell Press, 1998. Studies in the history of medieval religion., v. 12.
[St Michael's - BX4220 .G7O57 1998]
Includes an index and bibliography.

The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages

By Katherine Ludwig Jansen. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2000.
[St Michael's - BS2485 .J36 2000]
Includes illustrations, bibliography, and index.

Women and Christianity.

By Mary T. Malone. Ottawa : Novalis, 2000.
[St Michael's - BV639 .W7 M334 2000]
Includes an index and bibliography.

Chaste Passions: Medieval English Virgin Martyr Legends.

Edited and translated by Karen A. Winstead. Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 2000.
[St Michael's - BX4656 .C43 2000]
Translations of legends about female saints.

Rules for Women in Religious Orders

Norm und Wirklichkeit religiser Frauengemeinschaften im Frühmittelalter.

By Thomas Schilp. Gttingen : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998.
[Robarts - BX4205 .S35 1998]
Rule for canonesses issued in 816 by the Council of Aachen (Aix). Similar to Bendictine Rule except a canoness had the right to retain property but not manage it.

Regula Sanctarum Virginum: The Rule For Nuns Of St. Caesarius Of Arles.

By Caesarius, of Arles, Saint, 470?-542. Translation with introduction by Maria Caritas McCarthy. Washington: Catholic University of American Press, 1960.
[Trinity - BX4212 .C313 1960]
Sixth century female rules written for the monastery of St.John of Arles, France.


Witches, Midwives, and Nurses : A History of Women Healers.

By Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English. 2nd ed. Old Westbury, NY: Feminist Press, 1973.
[Gerstein - RT31 .E33 1973]
[New College Library - RT31 .E33 1973]
48-page pamphlet sketching the suppression of witches in medieval Europe.

Women Healers Through History.

By Elisabeth Brooke. London : Women's Press, 1993.
[Gerstein - R692 .B76 1993]
Includes a bibliography.

Women Healers in Medieval Life and Literature.

Freeport, N.Y., Books for Libraries Press, 1968 (reprint).
[St Michael's - R133 .H8]
Includes an appendix of Women Practitioners of the Later Middle Ages, a Glossary of Herbs, a bibliography, and an index.

Hildegard of Bingen's Medicine.

By Wighard Strehlow & Gottfried Hertzka ; translated from the German by Karin Anderson Strehlow. Santa Fe, NM: Bear, 1988.
[Emmanuel Library - R144 .H54 S77 1988]
[Gerstein - R144 .H54 S77 1988]
Includes an index.

Women and Work

Women and Economic Activities in Late Medieval Ghent.

By Shennan Hutton. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
[Robarts Library - HQ1147 .B4 H88 2011X]
This book discusses city life, women and property, married and single women as producers and sellers, and general patterns of women's economic involvement.

Women and Wealth in Late Medieval Europe.

Edited by Theresa Earenfight. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
[St. Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1236.5 .E85 W645 2010]
Includes an index and bibliography.

Women at Work in Medieval Europe.

By Madeleine Pelner Cosman. New York : Facts on File, 2000.
[Robarts Library - HD6134 .C67 2000X]
Organized by trade/profession. Includes illustrations and an index.

Women, Production, and Patriarchy in Late Medieval Cities.

By Martha C. Howell. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1986.
[St Michael's - HD6134 .H69 1986]
Includes and index and bibliography.

Witchcraft and Heresy

Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe : Documents In Translation.

Edited, with an introduction, by Edward Peters. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980.
[St Michael's 3rd Floor - BT1319 .P47]
Discusses medieval sects and heresies.

Devils, Women, and Jews: Reflections of the Other in Medieval Sermon Stories.

By Joan Young Gregg. Albany : State University of New York Press, 1997.
[St Michael's 3rd Floor - BV4208 .E85 D48 1997]
Includes an index and bibliography.

Lewd Women and Wicked Witches : A Study of the Dynamics of Male Domination.

By Marianne Hester. London ; New York : Routledge, 1992.
[New College Library - HQ28 .H47 1992]
[Robarts Library - HQ28 .H47 1992]
Includes an index and bibliography.

Sorceress or Witch?: The Image of Gender In Medieval Iceland And Northern Europe

By Katherine Morris. Lanham, MD : University Press of America, 1991.
[Robarts - PT7162 .W56 M67 1991]
Examines witches in Old Norse and German literature.

Noble Daughters: Unheralded Women In Western Christianity, 13th to 18th Centuries

By Marie A. Conn. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000.
[Knox Library - BV 639 .W7 C58 2000]
[Robarts - BV 639 .W7 C58 2000X]
[Emmanuel Library - BV639 .W7 C58 2000]
A history of forgotten Christian women: beguines, Anabaptists, witches and nuns.

Witchcraft Documents - Fifteenth Century. Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

Copyright Paul Halsall Mar 1996.
[Available online for free]

Women and the Law

The Measure of Woman: Law and Female Identity in the Crown of Aragon.

By Marie A. Kelleher. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
[Robarts Library - KKT517.5 .K45 2010X]

Cáin Lánamna : an old Irish tract on marriage and divorce law.

By Charlene M. Eska. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2010.
[Robarts Library - KDK203 .E83 2010]

"Sexual Equality in Medieval Canon Law" by James A. Brundage in
Medieval Women and the Sources of Medieval History

Edited by Joel T. Rosenthal. University of Georgia Press, 1990.
[St Michael's 2nd Floor - HQ1143 .M44 1990]
A concise article directing the reader to references in key legal texts by Gratian, Benard of Parma, Thomas Aquinas and earlier law codes such as the Digest of Justinian on women's sexual rights. The bibliography of primary and secondary sources is extensive.

Medieval Women and The Law.

Edited by Noël James Menuge. Woodbridge, Suffolk; Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2000.
[Robarts - K644 .M43 2000]
A study of the legal status of women from 500 - 1500.

La femme et l'enfant dans le droit canonique médiéval.

By Ren Metz. London : Variorum Reprints, 1985.
[Robarts - BV639 .W7 M47 1985]
A collection of articles published from various sources (1951-76) on the legal status of women and children.

Canon Law and Cloistered Women: Periculoso and Its Commentators, 1298-1545

By Elizabeth Makowski. Washington, D.C. : Catholic University of America Press, 1997. Studies in medieval and early modern canon law. ; v. 5
[St Michael's 3rd Floor - BX1939 .M6 M33 1997]
A historical view of canon law concerning convents and religious orders for women.

Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England.

By Ruth Mazo Karras. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
[Robarts Library - HQ186 A5 K37 1996]
[Victoria College Pratt Library - HQ 186 A5 K37 1996]

Dowry of Women Religious: A Historical Synopsis and Commentary.

Ph.D. Dissertation by Thomas M. Kealy. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1941. Canon law studies, no. 134.
[St Michael's 3rd Floor - BX1939 .M6 K4 1941]

"In Accordance with the Canons of the Holy Apostles: Muscovite Dowries and Women's Property Rights,"

By Ann Kleimola in Russian Review, April 1992.
[Available online for UofT use: Search "E-journals" for Russian Review. Click on "go." Then select the JSTOR option.]

Family and Marriage

Love and Marriage in Late Medieval London

Selected, translated, and introduced by Shannon McSheffrey. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Published for TEAMS (the Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages) by Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 1995.
[Robarts Library- KD753 .L68 1995]
Primary documents translated from Latin.

Covert Operations: The Medieval Uses of Secrecy

By Karma Lochrie. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Middle Ages series.
[St Michael's - PR275 .W6 L63 1999]
Medieval law, secrecy, gossip, sodomy and social conditions about marriages in literature during the middle ages. Includes extensive bibliographical references.

Marriage, Family, and Law In Medieval Europe.

By Michael M. Sheehan. Edited by James K. Farge. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1997.
[St Michael's - HQ611 .S54 1996]
Studies on wills and marriage from 1066 - 1485.

The Marriage Exchange: Property, Social Place, and Gender in Cities of the Low Countries, 1300-1550

By Martha C. Howell. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
[Robarts - KJC1162 .H69 1998X]
A study of marital property and law in medieval Flanders and Douai, France.

Karaite Marriage Documents from The Cairo Geniza: Legal Tradition and Community Life in Mediaeval Egypt and Palestine

By Judith Olszowy-Schlanger. New York: Brill, 1998.
[Robarts - KRM540.044 1998]

"Infanticide in Pre-Petrine Russia," by Eve Levin, in
Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas
34, no. 2 (1986): 215-224.

[Robarts Library - D1 .J3]