What was a medieval woman?

How do women behave?

Women as a 'mirror' for knights and clerics: women as an example of how men should behave

Extract A: From Book 2, chapter 124 of Perceforest

Women as a danger to men; women soothe the savage beast

Extract B: From Guiron le Courtois, written in France between 1235 and 1239.


How do you know that it is a woman?

Cross-dressing in Guiron le Courtois: man into woman

Extract C: The Morholt as a woman.

Extract D: King Ban of Benoic as a woman.

Extract E: The Good and Fearless Knight as a woman

Cross dressing in Perceforest: woman into man

Extract F: the bad maiden dressed as a man

Extract G: the good maiden dressed as a man

Cross dressing in the Hundred Years War: man into woman

Walter de Manny attacks Mortagne

Further examples of cross-dressing in medieval literature

Women dressed as men

Men dressed as women

Medieval Women: Warfare and Military Activity

Women may use violence in a right cause.

Extract A: The romance of Gyron le Courtois (France:1235-39)

Women may fight to defend their children's rights or their husband's rights.

Extract B: Histoire des Ducs de Normandie et des Rois d'Angleterre: the empress Matilda and Queen Matilda of England

Extract C: Jean Froissart, Chroniques, Livre I, Le Manuscrit d'Amiens Jeanne of Flanders, countess of Montfort, leads a sortie

Women may fight when they have been given authority to do so: e.g., they are acting on behalf of their husbands.

Extract D: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Mercian Register: Æthelflæld, lady of the Mercians, fights against the Danes and the Welsh.

Extract E: Histoire des Ducs de Normandie et des Rois d'Angleterre: Matilda de Braose fights the Welsh

Extract F: Jean Froissart's Chronique: Philippa of Hainaut, queen of England, musters the English army against the Scots: the Battle of Neville's Cross, 1346

Extract G: On the question of women's authority over men: Honoré Bonet, The Tree of Battles.

Other sources on medieval women using force



Constitutions relating to the care of babies and children in the statutes of the English Church

Documents relating to medieval women's life in the towns








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