Lemurian City of Ladies

A Lemurian City Built in Memory of Christine de Pizan

Archive for May 2008

Noble Women at Work

with 9 comments

“The joy you give me is such that a thousand doleful people

would be made merry by my joy.”  – Beatritz de Dia, trobairitz.


Further exploration on the theme of the Trobairitz

and what she traditionally did,

brings inspiration in the following link

from Wikipedia,

detailing sample music from the mysterious

Comtessa de Dia, whose rare ancient composition can

be heard here, interpreted by modern singers.  Usually

the Trobairitz was of noble birth,

as opposed to her male

counterpart.  No doubt she took her role seriously, and

delighted many a court with her

finely schooled voice and

composing skills.  To be able to witness such a grand evening

would be a treat, with the beautiful

lamenting tune echoing

off the walls of ancient abbeys or castle halls.  There is a coloured

icon medieval image of her in the attached link,

and she certainly

gives all the appearance of an accomplished noble woman at work.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2008.)

Written by imogen88

May 21, 2008 at 10:44 am

Trobairitzes – Working for a Song

with 9 comments

Expanding more on the theme of women’s work, and lesser known roles in medieval times,

brings to mind the Troubairitzes, the female version of the male medieval Troubadours.

Often, the work of these women was secondary

only in fame to their male counterparts, and not in quality.  The women’s works

had a lightness and intelligence of emotion which men might not

convey through their sung tales.  These songs often contained wise instruction

on courtly love, or served as laments, or tales of woe in song.  The style

came from the south of France, at a time when much was changing in women’s

lives, and more freedoms were gained,

as discussed in the article on women and the Crusades below.

Here is some interesting material in lyric form, on these works,

which have been reproduced for modern CD listening,

  Early Women Masters

The lyrics are quite fascinating, even by today’s standards,

showing how little has changed with the passage of time.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2008.)

(Linked material is copyright to their respective authors.)

Written by imogen88

May 18, 2008 at 10:42 am

Posted in Women's Work

Tagged with ,

Abandoned at Work and Home

with 5 comments

“Jerusalem, you do me a great wrong by taking from me that which I loved best.
Know this to be true: I’ll never love you, for this is the reason for my unhappiness…

Fair, sweet lover, how will you endure your great ache for me out on the salty sea,
When nothing that exists could ever tell the deep grief that has come into my heart?
When I think of your gentle, sparkling face that I used to kiss and caress,
It is a great miracle that I am not deranged….”

(by Anonymous singer of women’s songs)


Thanks to a brilliant essay from The Women’s World Curriculum,

“Women and the Crusades”,

at Medieval Sources Online, detailing women’s work and roles

at the time, more can be learned about the lesser known

phenomenon of men leaving their wives to tend to their

estates at the time of the Crusades.  The excerpt above from a French

song of lament, though anonymous, gives a voice to the feelings of

women at the mercy of the nature of those times.  Often, these

men did not return, communication would have been scant and

difficult, and absences could last years.  Before the real danger of

these crusades was known, women sometimes accompanied their

men, but after the devastating cost was known, there was a ban on

anyone but men attending the ravaging travels of crusades.

The linked essay also contains some great revelations, and details of

a noble lady, making her stand and “do or die choice” in the name of

protecting her estate when her noble husband was away.  Accounts of

women finding their administrative powers over their home and land

flourish in a time of great hardship, and present an odd boon to this troubled

age, which was the stretch in the reach of women’s perceived limits, showing

their full capabilities, at women’s work.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2008.)


Written by imogen88

May 17, 2008 at 8:54 am

Pens, Needles and Linens

with 15 comments

Women’s days throughout history were busy with things to do, varying with the different eras, the regions where they lived, and their family size and priorities.  The house was invariably the woman’s domain to manage.  Every day women were required to either clean or oversee the order of the home, manage the preparation of food and food sources, tend to the sewing, handwork, and often the clothing of the children.  They also managed the administrative tasks, such as writing letters, and kept up a vital chain of correspondence until it became an art. 

Often throughout history, women were and are, like a threaded needle working through cloth, weaving their words to friends and family, whether written on paper or embroidered, or just merely spoken to neighbours and others.  My grandmothers were both modest women of letters and linens, and their work lives on, handed to the generations who follow them.  Both were skilled with their hands, with thread and needle.

Imagining even a day, let alone an era, without such communication seems impossible, or without the handwork which gave women great joy.  Many modern women cherish heirlooms their mother’s mother made, or even further back.  It is the way they maintain the thread through the generations.  It is a way of hearing the wisdom of women who made their mark before them, and who then handed the needle to future women to go on with.  Here is a lovely quote, which says some interesting things about women and linens:

“White linen is the paper of [housewives], which

must be on hand in great, well-ordered layers,

and therein they write their entire philosophy

of life, their woes and joys.”

Gottfried Keller, from “Der Grune Heinrich” (1854)


The idea of women’s days being recorded on linens seems a wonderful thought, honouring all that women did or tried to do, as if their stories were imprinted on it like damask roses.  Also, this quote shows a sensitivity of the author, which likewise honours women’s work.  The linens, like the paper letters, told the stories of the households, and were often wept over, laughed at, smiled at, or used for more practical purposes.  Women exchanged linens as they did letters, respectively, using them to announce births, as much as to adorn babies heads.  Paper and fabric, the pen and the needle, were and are an important part of a woman’s day.  She used them to express herself, and share part of that self with those around her, and no doubt always will.

Quote sourced from Heather Blakey’s reference book:

“Women’s Work – The First 20,000 Years”

by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.

 (copyright Imogen Crest 2008.)

Written by imogen88

May 15, 2008 at 9:09 am

Posted in Women's Work