Women of Power : Formidable Females of the Medieval World by Teresa Cole

Women of Power : Formidable Females of the Medieval World by Teresa Cole

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The stereotypical medieval woman is a pious, helpless creature of little intelligence, and still less drive and ambition. Completely at the mercy of the men in her life, she was married young, had copious offspring and died, often in childbirth, to make way for another, younger model. At best she may have inspired music (made by men), art (made by men), or poetry (made by men), but clearly she were incapable of doing anything for herself.

While this may have been true of many, it was certainly not true of the women featured here. Emma, Matilda and Eleanor were all queens of England wielding great influence in their time, while the Empress Matilda ruled northern Italy at the age of sixteen, and came close to seizing back the English crown, promised to her and then usurped by her cousin, Stephen. Matilda of Tuscany and Melisende of Jerusalem both ruled in their own right and with notable success, while Eleanor of Aquitaine was surely one of the most significant and powerful women of her age.

In each case the choices they made and the lives they lived had a profound impact on their own times, while, for some, their influence lasted well beyond their own era. These women can truly be called Women of Power.