'tis but a scratch: fact and fiction about the Middle Ages
'tis but a scratch: fact and fiction about the Middle Ages
Richard Abels
"Wicked" Medieval Women and the Monks Who Loathed Them
1 hour 20 minutes Posted Dec 7, 2022 at 1:00 pm.
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Show notes

In this episode Ellen and I discuss three "wicked" medieval women and the monastic authors who loathed them.  We begin with the Anglo-Saxon Queen Ælfthryth, a champion of the Tenth-Century Benedictine Reform movement in England,  who appears in the twelfth-century Liber Eliensis as a lascivious witch responsible for the murders of her stepson King Edward the Martyr and Byrhtnoth, the first abbot of Ely.  We then turn to an early twelfth-century French countess, Sibyl of Porcien, a lascivious beauty whose adultery, according to Abbot Guibert of Nogent, caused a war between her first and second husbands, and who plotted the ruin and death of her stepson. We conclude with a late eleventh-century Norman female robber baron, Mabel of Belleme as she appears in Orderic Vitalis's Ecclesiastical History.  In each case, Ellen and I discuss whether these women deserve their notoriety, and consider why the monks who told their stories portrayed them as wicked.  The larger issue in this episode is, of course, medieval misogyny.