An article in the BBC Sports section this morning set me off thinking about role models past and present... Who did girls look up to? Why? Who do we remember and why?
Two things stuck out to me:
1. The women the general public remember from the wider medieval period are the sensational, not the politically active (or at least not primarily FOR being politically active), not the religious nor the wholesome...
2. Plus ça change - looks remain important...
Who are key medieval women?
How does the fact that they were female affect how they are viewed in their own time and historically?
Giovanna di Napoli / Giovanna d'Angiò - was a Queen in her own right, yet her reign seems frequently to be analysed in the light of her femininity (or lack), her alleged sexual indescretions and whether she was complicit in the murder of her first husband.
And it's not just medieval women either. Ask many lay persons about Catherine the Great of Russia, and they will talk of her as the woman who allegedly died having intercourse with a horse (she didn't), or who had innumerable lovers.
To Be Continued
(Publishing as part of a push to stop leaving stuff eternally in draft)