Skip to main content

The Lady and the Virgin

Image, Attitude, and Experience in Twelfth-Century France

Penny Schine Gold provides a bold analysis of key literary and artistic images of women in the Middle Ages and the relationship between these images and the actual experience of women. She argues that the complex interactions between men and women as expressed in both image and experience reflect a common pattern of ambivalence and contradiction. Thus, women are seen as both helpful and harmful, powerful and submissive, and the actuality of women’s experience encompasses women in control and controlled, autonomous and dependent.

Vividly recreating the rich texture of medieval life, Gold effectively and eloquently goes beyond a simple equation of social context and representation. In the process. she challenges equally simple judgments of historical periods as being either "good" or "bad" for women.

"[The Lady and the Virgin] presents its findings in a form that should attract students as well as their instructors. The careful and controlled use of so many different kinds of sources . . . offers us a valuable medieval case study in the inner-relationship between the segments of society and its ethos or value system."—Joel T. Rosenthal, The History Teacher

"Something of a tour de force in an interdisciplinary approach to history."—Jo Ann McNamara, Speculum

"[A] well-written, extremely well-researched book. . . . The Lady and the Virgin is useful, readable, and well informed."—R. Howard Bloch, Modern Philology

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Foreword by Catharine R. Stimpson
1. Secular Image: Women in Chanson de Geste and Romance
Literature and History: Some Methodological Concerns
Chanson de Geste
2. Religious Image: The Iconography of the Virgin Mary
The Romanesque Image: The Virgin and Child
The Early Gothic Image: The Triumph of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin and the Standing Virgin and Child
The Virgin Mary and Attitudes toward Women
3. Religious Life: The Monastic Experience
Historical Survey
The Reform Movements
The Order of Fontevrault
4. Secular Life: Control of Property
5. Conclusion
Selected Bibliography

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press