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Women of the Twelfth Century, Volume 2, Remembering the Dead


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Women of the Twelfth Century, Volume 2, Remembering the Dead

Georges Duby

ISBN: 978-0-745-61948-4 January 1998 Polity 160 Pages


In this volume, one of the greatest medieval historians of our time continues his rich and illuminating enquiry into the lives of twelfth-century women. Georges Duby bases his account here on a twelfth-century genre which commemorated the virtues of noblewomen who had died, and the roles they had played in the history of their lineage.

From these genealogical works a vivid picture emerges of the lives these women led, the values they held, and the way in which they were viewed by the priest and knights who wrote about them.

The first section outlines the way in which the dead, and the memory and tales of the dead, served to bond noble society in the twelfth century. The second draws on the Gesta, written by Dudo of Saint Quentin, and reflects on what it tells us about the roles ascribed to wives and concubines and women, in war and in power. The third and final section reconstructs women as wives, mothers and widows through the work of Lambert, Priest of Ardres.

This book is part of a three-volume work on women in the Middle Ages. It will be of great interest to students and researchers in medieval history, social history and women's history.


Part I: Serving the Dead:.

1. The dead with the house.

2. Women and the dead.

3. Writing about the dead.

4. Remembering women.

Part II: Wives and concubines: .

1. The genealogy of a eulogy.

2. The trouble with women.

3. Wives.

4. Mistresses.

5. Arlette.
>Part 3: The Power of Women.

1. The context.

2. The witness.

3. Mother goddesses.

4. The couple.

5. Widows.


"It is difficult to think of any other historian who has been surrounded by so much respect and esteem." Douglas Johnson, The Guardian

"Elegantly written and elegantly translated, Duby's book distils what can be found about the lives of six elite women from the meagre records of the twelfth century. It leads him to revise his earlier opinions and see the recognition of the spirituality of women in that century as leading Europe to rate the values of love more highly. And all this is done with his customary scholarship and sensitivity." Professor Jack Goody, St John's College, Cambridge

"Georges Duby was a grand master among medieval social historians, and this is true vintage: subtle, perceptive, penetrating, sympatheic, and - helped by Jean Birrell's translation - highly readable. Women's history is of special interest today, and the book will provide for many a refreshing entry to a fascinating world." Professor Christopher Brooke, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

"An illuminating insight into the experience of womanhood in twelfth-century Europe." History Today

"Fascinating insight ... thought-provoking and inspirational." Journal of Gender Studies

"This study is Duby's last work, written just before he died in 1997, and it is his most personal and intimate testimony as a historian; he is in the foreground of his own narrative throughout. On that account it is a direct and touching book. As translated (with outstanding skill) by Jean Birrell, it is also very readable." Times Literary Supplement

"There is much in Women of the Twelfth Century to enjoy ... well-informed and thought-provoking ... this book has a lot to offer." History Today

* Second volume of Duby's celebrated trilogy on women in the twelfth century.
* Theme is very topical and will appeal to social historians of the Middle Ages and those interested in the history of women.
* Duby is probably the most well-known contemporary historian of the Middle Ages.