Middle-Aged Women in the Middle Ages

December 2011
9 black and white illustrations
168 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Gender in the Middle Ages
ISBN: 9781843842828
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC HIS037010, HIS054000, SOC028000

Middle-Aged Women in the Middle Ages

Edited by Sue Niebrzydowski

New research into medieval women from the Anglo-Saxon to the late medieval period demonstrates their energy, defiance and wit.
The phenomenon of medieval women's middle age is a stage in the lifecycle that has been frequently overlooked in preference for the examination of female youth and old age. The essays collected here, ranging from the Anglo-Saxon to the late medieval period, and drawing variously from literary studies, history, law, art and theology, address this lacuna. Taking a variety of critical approaches, the contributors consider medieval definitions, paradigms and experiences of female middle age, analysing how the middle-aged woman perceived herself subjectively, as well as how she was perceived by others. They seek to challenge the received wisdom that in the middle ages, at forty, women were deemed "old" and, from that point onwards, their thoughts should be focused on preparing for death. On the contrary, this collection demonstrates their energy, defiance and wit.

Sue Niebrzydowski is Lecturer in English, Bangor University, Wales.

Contributors: Jane Geddes, Clare A. Lees, Carol M. Meale, Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker, Sue Niebrzydowski, Raluca L. Radulescu, Sara Elin Roberts, Corinne Saunders, Diane Watt.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: 'Becoming bene-straw': The Middle-aged Woman in the Middle Ages - Sue Niebrzydowski
The Age of Discretion: Women at Forty and Beyond - Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker
Seeking the Middle-Aged Woman in Medieval Wales - Sara Elin Roberts
Middle Age in Romance? Magic, Enchantment and Female Power - Corinne Saunders
Age and Desire in the Old English Life of Mary of Egypt: A Queerer Time and Place? - Diane Watt and Clare Lees
The St Albans Psalter: Sex, Desire and the Middle-aged Woman - Jane Geddes
Speaking Volumes: the Middle Aged Woman and the Book in Medieval England - Carol Meale
'Late hir seye what sche wyl': Older Women's Speech and the Book of Margery Kempe - Sue Niebrzydowski
Preparing for Mature Years: the Case of Margaret of Anjou and her Books - Raluca Radulescu


[T]his examination of (mainly) lay and non-royal women [...] is timely, and it is illuminating as it draws our attention to the difficulties inherent in any such study. [...] Niebrzydowski and her colleagues deserve our gratitude. ÓENACH

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