The Middle Ages have a bad reputation: dark ages, uncivilised times, unhygienic cities. A misogynistic era par excellence, too: women barely played a public role and filled their days as housewives within the confines of their home. This stereotypical image of the medieval period is widespread but tells us little about the daily lives of medieval men and women.
This lecture tells a different story. Based on years of research into archival documents from medieval Flanders, Andrea Bardyn paints a surprising picture of the everyday life of people who populated the many cities in the region. Women played an important and public role. They appear as entrepreneurs, beguines, craftswomen, and artists. In the Low Countries women had better rights than one would have imagined, and they used these to conduct trade, take their husbands to court, or voice their opinion in the streets.
Andrea is a postdoctoral researcher in medieval history at the KU Leuven. Her research focuses on gender, social and economic inequality in urban contexts during the Late Middle Ages. She recently co-edited the book Wijvenwereld, which brings the history of women in the medieval Low Countries to a broad public.