English Literature

Women: Margaret Paston

Women: Margaret Paston Women in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had greatly varied lives not only because of class differences but also because of geographical location, marital status, religious involvement, and individual experience. Even within the smaller group of aristocratic and middle-class women, one needs to remain aware of differences, especially given the nature of… Continue reading Women: Margaret Paston

English Literature

Saracens

Saracens Medieval Christians’ views of Islam developed throughout the Middle Ages, beginning with concerns about easterners’ military and political conquests and developing into a greater understanding of some of the tenets of Islam. This second phase began due to contact with Muslims during the crusades (1096, 1146, 1189, 1228) and the arrival of Arab philosophy… Continue reading Saracens

English Literature

God’s Unknowability

God’s Unknowability Original compositions of contemplative, or mystical, writings in English as well as translations of continental works into the vernacular flourished in the late-fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. From Richard Rolle in the 1340s and even during the persecutions of Lollards in the 1400s (see “Lollardy Trials,” p. 59), English writers and translators explored modes… Continue reading God’s Unknowability

English Literature

Chastity, Marriage, Widowhood, and Virginity

Chastity, Marriage, Widowhood, and Virginity Discussions of chastity went to the core of discourses about sex and marriage in the Middle Ages, in particular as all three topics related to women. The connections begin with St. Paul, who stated that while marital sex was the only kind of sex allowed, chastity was the preferable state.… Continue reading Chastity, Marriage, Widowhood, and Virginity

English Literature

Gender, Sexuality, and Difference Amazons

Gender, Sexuality, and Difference Amazons Christine de Pisan, Boccaccio, and many medieval Troy stories told and retold the ancient tales about Amazons. In them the land of “Femynye” is said to be located (to the modern mind in typically inconsistent fashion) beyond China and near the Caspian Sea. Though similar to many other marvels in… Continue reading Gender, Sexuality, and Difference Amazons