FAMOUS WOMEN OF THE MIDDLE AGES
By Tim Lambert
Clotilde married Clovis, the king of the Franks who ruled northern France. She helped to convert her husband to Christianity.
Theodora c. 497-548 Empress of the Byzantine Empire
Berta or Bertha 539-612
In the 6th century AD England was divided into small kingdoms and the English were pagans. However Berta was a Christian and she married the king of Kent. It was partly due to her influence that Kent was converted to Christianity.
Hilda of Whitby 614-680
Hilda was an influential woman in the Saxon church who founded several monasteries. In 664 she hosted the Synod of Whitby, an important church meeting.
In the Middle Ages books were often beautifully decorated. This art was called illumination. Ende was a famous illuminator.
Gruoch 1007-1060 She was the real Lady Macbeth
Lady Godiva 11th Century
Lady Godiva certainly existed (she is mentioned in documents of the time) but whether her famous naked ride took place it is impossible to say. According to the story her husband Leofric was taxing the people of Coventry heavily and Godiva begged him to remove the tax. He jokingly said he would lift the tax if she rode through the town naked. Godiva did so! The story was first written down by Roger of Wendover (died 1236) and it may be true. However Peeping Tom is a much later addition to the story of Lady Godiva. He was not mentioned until the 17th century.
Hildegard was a theologian and writer. She also wrote about natural history and the medicinal use of plants. She also wrote music and a play.
Trota of Salerno c. 1100 Trota of Salerno was a famous doctor. (Salerno in Italy was famous for its medical school. Women were allowed to study there).
Matilda 1102-1167 She was queen of England 1135-1154. (Although there was another claimant to the throne and they fought a long civil war).
Eleanor of Aquitaine c 1122-1204 She was an influential woman in 12th century Europe
Teresa of Portugal 1181-1250 She was a devout woman who founded a monastery
Clare of Assisi 1194-1253 A follower of Francis of Assisi Clare founded the order known as the poor Clares
Guda 12th century Guda was a famous book illuminator
Isabella of England 1214-1241 She was empress of Germany 1235-1241
Marguerite de Provence 1221-1295 She was queen of France
Eleanor of Castile 1241-1290 She was queen of England 1254-1290
Claricia 13th Century Claricia was another famous book illuminator
Sabina von Steinbach 13th century Sabina was a famous sculptor
Lady Agnes Randolph aka Black Agnes 1312-1369 She defended a castle
Jadwiga c 1373-1399 She was queen of Poland
Alice Perrers 1340-1400 She was the mistress of the English King Edward III
Julian of Norwich 1342-1416
Despite the masculine name Julian was a woman. She was a famous mystic and writer. Julian wrote about the 'motherhood' of God.
Margaret of Denmark 1353-1412 She was queen of Denmark
Christine de Pisan 1364-1432 Christine was another famous writer
Margery Kempe 1373-c. 1439
Margery was an English mystic. The story of her life became a famous book The Book of Margery Kempe.
Joan of Arc 1412-1431Joan inspired French soldiers to fight against the English
Jane Shore c. 1445-1527 She was the mistress of the English King Edward IV
Isabella of Castile 1451-1504
She married Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 and when his father died in 1479 the two kingdoms were united
Anne Neville 1456-1485 She was the wife of Richard III and Queen of England 1483-1485
Famous Women in the 16th Century
Famous Ancient Women
A History of Women's Jobs
A History of Women's Rights