Man Becomes the Measure

"One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying." - Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc lead the French army in defeat of the English at Orleans, which assisted Charles VII's coronation.  In gratitude for her service, the French handed her over to the British who burned her at the stake for heresy when she was 19.
Reminder! Assignment Proposal due on Blackboard Wednesday <3
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII, 1854.











Polykleitos, Doryphoros, 450 - 440 BCE.
Knidian Aphrodite, Roman copy
after Praxiteles of ca. 340 - 330 BCE.











Adam and Eve

Gianlorenzo Bernini, Medusa, 1630.

Peter Paul Rubens, Adam and Eve, 1597.











The Little Mermaid

Walt Disney Studios, The Little Mermaid, 1989.











“Girls, be good to these spirits of music and poetry that breast your threshold with their scented gifts. Lift the lyre, clear and sweet, they leave with you.” - Sappho
Fresco of a woman with a writing
tablet from Pompeii, 1st century CE.











Pompeii Painter, 79 – 50 BCE.
Painter in Her Studio, tomb relief from Rome, 2nd Century.











The Battle of Issos or Battle of Alexander and the Persians,
mosaic copy from Pompeii of a Hellenistic painting of ca. 315 BCE.









The Middle Ages
Lady Godiva


Fall of the Roman Empire

859 - 1088

First universities established


Norman conquest of England

1095 - 1099

First Crusade called by the Pope to retake the Holy Lands from the Muslims


Lady Godiva rides naked through the marketplace to get her husband to lower coventry taxes
Black Death


Persecution of witches begins in France


Invention of wearable eyeglasses


Dry mariner's compass developed after ancient Chinese models

1337 - 1453

Hundred Years' War between France and England


Black Death kills about 75 million people worldwide

1378 - 1417

Great Schism divides the Roman Catholic Church into eastern and western traditions

1387 - 1400

Chaucer writes the Canterbury Tales


Christine de Pizan writes The Book of the City of Ladies


Joan of Arc defeats the English for France, becomes a scapegoat and is sent back to England by her country where she is burned at the stake










  • By 12th century cities begin to develop bringing growth in trade, travel and education
  • More people involved in selling goods for profit
  • Decline in power of convents but increased participation of women in trade guilds


  • Guilds controlled price of labor, protected the worker and esnured quality for the buyer
    • Children as young as 12 entered an apprenticeship with guild member to learn trade
    • Once an apprentice had learned their craft well, they worked as a "journeyman" until they could establish their own business
  • As the Middle Ages progressed, women were usually allowed to become apprentices and participate in every aspect of guild membership, except becoming a member
  • Eventually, women will be entirely excluded from guilds,
    and their work dismissed as "hobby"
Women Weaving, Boccaccio, Concerning Famous Women, 1402.










Because of the structure of commerce, Medieval women's artistic production usually falls into two categories:
  • Embroideries
  • Illuminated manuscripts
Most (recognized) medieval women art makers were from the wealthy class and were nuns
  • Upper class women who were not nuns produced embroideries
  • Nuns produced illuminated manuscripts
Hildegard of Bingen










Medieval Spinners and Dyers from a Book of Days











Opus Anglicanum = embroidered works made in English workshops during the 11th century
By 1250, these professional women embroiderers in England were highly respected
Popes regularly ordered liturgical garments from their shops which were considered as valuable as jewelry
In 1271 Henry III paid £220 for a bejeweled altar frontal equal to about £100,000 ($138,696) today
the labor of the four women who made it cost £36
it took them three years to create it


The Syon Cope, c. 1300.











The Syon Cope, c. 1300.












Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery at the V&A Museum










Bayeux Tapestry

The Battle of Hastings, detail of the Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1086.


View of extant Bayeux Tapestry











Banquet Scene, detail of the Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1086.











Halley's Comet, detail of the Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1086.











Aelfyva and the Cleric

Aelfgyva and the Cleric, detail from the Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1086.












More of the Bayeux Tapestry











"The Bayeux Tapestry, although made for a Norman patron (probably Odo, named bishop of Kent after the Conquest), was almost certainly executed by English seamstresses, perhaps in Canterbury, who reveal themselves in their spelling of the tapestry’s Latin labels and in their technique. These same women and their contemporaries also, of course, were busily preserving the Saxon roots of the English language, transmitting it to English children long after the Norman Conquest had added its French vocabulary to the mix. English embroidery, or opus anglicanum, became one of the most prized luxuries of the European Middle Ages; indeed, the tapestry itself is not, in fact, a woven tapestry, but rather a very large piece of embroidery." - Ingrid D. Rowland
Bayeux Tapestry
Making the Bayeux Tapestry











Illuminated manuscript = a hand written and illustrated manuscript from the Western or Islamic traditions, commonly produced on vellum and incorporating gold and silver leaf

Probably Jean Le Noir and/or his daughter Bourgot,
Psalter and Hours of Bonne de Luxembourg, before 1349.











Marcia creating aself-portrait with the aide of a mirror, from Boccaccio, Concerning Famous Women, 1402.











Reasons that Medieval women joined convents:


  • Wanted to live a religious life
  • Adult women with pasts to be forgotten
  • Daughters presented as tithes by parents
  • Sickly or un-marriageable daughter
  • Women who wanted to escape the roles of motherhood and marriage - convents provided the only opportunity for women to live outside the constraints of medieval society
Claricia from the German Psalter,  13th century.