"That's What She Said" part deux
I do so much love talking about medieval women and especially those myths that keep lingering, even today. Things like, "Medieval women couldn't read or write!" It's such rubbish.
Certainly not all women did, but some did. It helps to remember that literacy today is different to literacy in the middle ages. Women might be able to read a little and not write. The definition of illiterate was also quite specific. A person was illiterate if they could not read and write... in Latin. It's true that visiting monks despaired of some 14th century nuns because they only wrote French and were therefore not literate. Scandalous.
We know, of course, that many upper class ladies did read. We also know what they read. Romance novels! Yes, women sighed over Lancelot and his Lady Love; tittered over the Roman de la Rose, a love story set in prose packed with allegorical characters; and yes, wrote love letters to their very own husbands.
"That's What She Said!" was well received by the viewers of the Abbey Friends talk, which is still online if you'd care to see it.