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Medieval Women and War Female Roles in the Old French Tradition

Sophie Harwood

Harwood Sophie, Medieval Women and War Female Roles in the Old French Tradition, Bloomsbury, 2020.

ISBN : 9781788315197.

For the first time, Sophie Harwood uses the Old French tradition as a lens through which to examine women and warfare from the 12th to the 14th centuries. The result is a skilled analysis of gender roles in the medieval era, and a heightened awareness of how important literary texts are to our understanding of the historical period in which they circulated.

Medieval Women and War examines both the text and illustrations of over 30 Old French manuscripts to highlight the ways in many of the texts differ from their traditionally assumed (usually classical) sources. Structured around five pivotal female types – women cited as causes for violence, women as victims of violence, women as ancillaries to warriors, women as warriors themselves, and women as political influences – this important book unpicks gendered boundaries to shed new light on the social, political and military structures of warfare as well as adding nuance to current debates on womanhood in the middle ages.


List of Figures
List of Tables
Notes on the Text
List of Abbreviations and Sigils

Reading Texts through the Manuscript Tradition, 1150 – 1400
Women as Reasons for War
Women as Victims of War
Women as Ancillaries in War
Women as Warriors in War
Women as Diplomats in War

Appendix 1. Catalogue of Manuscripts
Appendix 2. Manuscript Illustrations of Women