I finally finished Four Queen: The Provencal Sister Who Ruled Europe by Nancy Goldstone. It was a great look at life in Medieval Europe and how much power and influence women actually did yield.
When we think of the middle ages, we usually think of women on pedestals, or being used as political pawns. While these images are correct, there is a much deeper, more complex aspect to the role of women in the middle ages.These four sisters, all married to kings, ended up wielding immense power and influence in France, England and Europe as a whole. These women weren't the exception. Their mother was very influential, as were their mother-in-laws, one of whom held the reigns of power in France until her son came of age. These women endured the hardships of war, the grief of loss, the fear of disease and the uncertainty of political upheaval, all while pregnant or looking after their families and helping maintain their family's power and influence. Reading about these ladies has given me a while new perspective on women in the middle ages.
So, what to read next? I've decided to leave Europe and look a little closer to home. I'm currently reading Army Wives on the American Frontier: Living by the Bugles by Anne Bruner Eales. As I make my way through this book, my respect for the women who have come before me increases. After all, they sometimes gave birth in the back of a wagon while in a snow storm. It makes me realize that my life just isn't that hard.