Femina – A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of it
- WH Allen, Penguin Books
- 2022 ISBN 9780753559574
- 464 pages
- 23.5 × 15.5 × 3.5 cm
The middle ages are seen as a bloodthirsty time of Vikings, saints and kings: a patriarchal society which oppressed and excluded women. But when we dig a little deeper into the truth, we can see that the ‘dark’ ages were anything but.
Oxford and BBC historian Janina Ramirez has uncovered countless influential women’s names struck out of historical records, with the word FEMINA annotated beside them. As gatekeepers of the past ordered books to be burnt, artworks to be destroyed, and new versions of myths, legends and historical documents to be produced, our view of history has been manipulated.
Only now, through a careful examination of the artefacts, writings and possessions they left behind, are the influential and multifaceted lives of women emerging. Femina goes beyond the official records to uncover the true impact of women like Jadwiga, the only female King in Europe, Margery Kempe, who exploited her image and story to ensure her notoriety, and the Loftus Princess, whose existence gives us clues about the beginnings of Christianity in England. See the medieval world with fresh eyes and discover why these remarkable women were removed from our collective memories.
“Revelatory… Ramirez shows again and again that dark age Europe was a far more various place than we like to believe.” – Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian
“One of Femina’s greatest strengths is that it is not just a collection of medieval heroines, although there are inspirational stories aplenty in its pages, but also a readable and wide-ranging account of the Middle Ages – with the women put back in – that forces us to look at familiar stories in new ways.” – The Sunday Times
“Beautifully written, wonderfully free-ranging and gloriously original, Femina makes us look into the mists of history in new, exciting and provocative ways. A joyous read” – Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
“Spellbinding, passionate, gripping and magnificently fresh in tone, boldly wide in range, elegantly written, deeply researched, Femina is a ground-breaking history of the Middle Ages. It brings the world to life with women at its very heart, centre stage where they belong. What a delight.” – Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: The Biography
“This is a passionate, energetic, hugely enjoyable and brilliantly observed book. Both a plea for a new way of thinking about history and a commitment to putting women’s lives back at the heart of things, I read it in one sitting. Magnificent.” – Kate Mosse, bestselling author of Labyrinth