Misogyny in the Middle Ages  

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"In spite therefore of certain ideals of chastity presented by the Christian hagiographies, in spite of the incense burnt at the altar of Woman in romances, at tourneys and in the Courts of Love, there was never a time in the world's history in which women were more grossly insulted, more shamefully reviled, or more basely defamed than they were in the middle ages, by men of every class, beginning with the most serious writers of theology and going down to the mountebanks of the street-plays. The number of anecdotes, trivial or obscene, that drag women in the dirt is simply infinite…"--Vergil in the Middle Ages (1872) by Domenico Comparetti

"The history of medieval misogyny was described by J. Michelet in his book “The Witch.” Since woman and the contact with woman were regarded as radically evil, it followed that in theory and practice asceticism was the ideal; celibacy was only the natural consequence of this hatred of woman; so also were the later witch trials the natural consequence. Therefore to this medieval misogyny, in contrast with modern misogyny, which represents only a weak imitation, we cannot deny a certain justification. The misogyny of the middle ages was earnestly meant; but it has become to-day mere phrase-making, dilettante imitation, and ostentation. In contrast with the utterances of the modern misogynist, the coarse abuse of women by such a writer as Abraham a Santa Clara has a refreshing and amusing character.--The Sexual Life of Our Time (1907) by Iwan Bloch

Image:Lai d' Aristote.jpg
Aristotle and Phyllis, c. 1485, from the medieval legend Lai d' Aristote, illustrated by the Master of the Housebook

Related e



Misogyny in the Middle Ages was widespread.


Antifeminist and anti-matrimonial literature of the Middle Ages

Antifeminist and anti-matrimonial literature of the Middle Ages is a corpus of antifeminist literature found in medieval texts. In these writings, women are stereotypically portrayed as unfaithful and cunning.

In the corpus is included the Jankyn's Book of Wikked Wyves, a collection of texts mentioned in The Canterbury Tales.

Other texts in this category are Le Miroir de Mariage by Eustache Deschamps.

Often referenced in the Middle Ages are Tertullian's "An Exhortation to Chastity" and Solomon's downfall because of his polygyny.

In theory, this antifeminism was countered by the concept and practices of courtly love, which idealizes women.

Precursors in Antiquity

Misogyny in Greek literature


See also

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