Femina

Femina

A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It

Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Extraordinary women have held positions of power throughout history. But, aside from the select few, why do we not hear about them?

The middle ages are seen as a bloodthirsty time of Vikings, Saints and Kings: a patriarchal society that oppressed and excluded women. But by digging a little deeper into the truth, drawing on evidence from all disciplines, we can see that the 'dark' ages were anything but. BBC historian Janina Ramirez has uncovered countless influential women's names struck out of historical records, with the word FEMINA annotated beside them. Male gatekeepers of the past ordered books to be burnt, artworks to be destroyed, and new versions of myths, legends and historical documents to be produced, which has manipulated our view of history.

By weaving a vivid and evocative picture of the lives of the women who influenced their society, we discover not just why these remarkable individuals were removed from our collective memories, but also how many other misconceptions underpin our historical narratives, altering the course of history, upholding the oppressive masculine structures of their present, and affecting our contemporary view of the past.

© Janina Ramirez 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Reviews

  • 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

About the author

Janina Ramirez

Dr Janina Ramirez is a presenter, lecturer and researcher, specialising in interpreting symbols and examining art works within their historical context. She is Course Director for the Undergraduate Certificate and Diploma in History of Art at the Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University. She has published widely on medieval art and literature, and has taught and researched across a broad chronological sweep, covering everything from the sculptures of antiquity to post-modern architecture. She has also written and presented a number of documentaries for BBC4 and Radio Four, and is a regular guest presenter of Front Row. She is a passionate and enthused academic driven by a desire to share ideas.
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