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Mothers, Mystics and Merrymakers: Medieval Women Pilgrims

£11.99

The medieval woman was both idealised and vilified. The idea that she might stray outside the boundaries established by her family and husband threw the medieval man into a veritable fit of anxiety. Pilgrimage gave women a justification for escaping the confines of their existence and for those wealthy and determined enough the journey could provide merriment, empowerment, adventure and escapism. However, women pilgrims were a cause of real grief to the church and society. In theory it was a good thing for women to go to the holy places, but their presence on the road was a disturbance. After all, women were known as witches, as husband-murderers and as latter-day Eves who would seduce and betray men given the opportunity. Sarah Hopper's challenging new book presents women as pilgrims, saints, wives, mothers, widows, mystics and tavern owners, as victims of abuse, danger and misogynistic opposition and not least as pious devotees and enthusiastic souvenir shoppers! She brings to life the ambiguities, the joys and the perils of being a medieval woman. Neither downtrodden nor simplistically pious, the figure that emerges from the book is many-faceted and spirited, concerned with both spirituality and fun. A remarkably modern person, in fact.

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