The medieval woman was both idealised and vilified. The idea that she might stray outside the boundaries established by her family and husband threw the medieval man into a veritable fit of anxiety. Pilgrimage gave women a justification for escaping the confines of their existence and for those wealthy and determined enough the journey could provide merriment, empowerment, adventure and escapism. However, women pilgrims were a cause of real grief to the church and society. In theory it was a good thing for women to go to the holy places, but their presence on the road was a disturbance. After all, women were known as witches, as husband-murderers and as latter-day Eves who would seduce and betray men given the opportunity. Sarah Hopper's challenging new book presents women as pilgrims, saints, wives, mothers, widows, mystics and tavern owners, as victims of abuse, danger and misogynistic opposition and not least as pious devotees and enthusiastic souvenir shoppers! She brings to life the ambiguities, the joys and the perils of being a medieval woman.
Neither downtrodden nor simplistically pious, the figure that emerges from the book is many-faceted and spirited, concerned with both spirituality and fun. A remarkably modern person, in fact.
Buy Mothers, Mystics and Merrymakers book by Sarah C. Hopper from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(234mm x 156mm x 10mm)
Sutton Publishing Ltd
Publisher: The History Press Ltd
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Author Biography - Sarah C. Hopper
Sarah Hopper is the author of To Be a Pilgrim (Sutton, 2002), an introduction to medieval pilgrimage. Her background is in history and art history and her articles have appeared in The Times and BBC History.