This is a history of the early European middle ages through the eyes of women, combining the rich literature of women's history with original research in the context of mainstream history and traditional chronology. The book begins at the end of the Roman empire and ends with the start of the long eleventh century, when women and men set out to test the old frontiers of Europe. The book recreates the lives of ordinary women but also tells personal stories of individuals. Each chapter also questions an assumption of medieval historiography, and uses the few documents produced by women themselves, along with archaeological evidence, art, and the written records of medieval men, to tell of women, their experiences and ideas, and their relations with men. It covers the continent and its exotic edges, such as Iceland, Ireland, and Iberia; looking at women Christian and non-Christian alike.
Lisa M. Bitel is Professor of History, University of Southern California. She studied at Harvard University, the National University of Ireland and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Her books include Isle of the Saints: Christian Settlement and Monastic Community in Early Ireland (1990) and Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland (1996), winner of the Byron Caldwell Prize and the James Donnelly Prize.