Medieval manuscripts blog

Bringing our medieval manuscripts to life

08 March 2024

Medieval Women exhibition

We have some exciting news — pass it on! In October 2024, our major exhibition Medieval Women: In Their Own Words opens at the British Library in London. The exhibition will explore the challenges, achievements and daily lives of women in Europe from 1100 to 1500. It will tell the history of medieval women through their own words and uncover their lives through manuscripts, documents and artefacts.

Women’s lives during the Middle Ages were rich and varied. The exhibition will reveal that women exerted great influence across private, public and spiritual realms. It will delve into the lived experiences of medieval women, including their beauty regimes and healthcare, their personal relationships and the running of their homes. It will shed light on their work in a wide variety of trades and professions, their role in medieval politics, the power and influence they wielded as spiritual visionaries or nuns, and the art, music and literature that they created.

Medieval illustration of a group of women in a richly decorated room. Christine de Pizan, dressed in blue, kneels on the ground and offers a large red book to Isabeau, dressed in pink and seated on a sofa
Christine de Pizan presents her book to Isabeau of Bavaria, in the Book of the Queen, France, c. 1410-1414: Harley MS 4431, f. 3r

Visitors will discover objects related to inspiring figures such as: Joan of Arc, the religious visionary and military leader; Christine de Pizan, the first professional woman author in Europe; and Shajar Al-Durr, the female ruler of Egypt who defeated Louis IX of France in the Seventh Crusade.

The exhibition will take visitors on a journey through the lives of medieval women across cultures, religions and class. Exploring both their struggles and successes, the exhibition prompts visitors to discover how medieval women’s voices still resonate across the centuries and speak powerfully to our world today.

Medieval illustration of a woman scattering food from a bowl, feeding a very large chicken and its chicks
A woman feeding chickens, in the Luttrell Psalter, England, 1325-1340: Add MS 42130, f.166v

Medieval Women: In Their Own Words is on show at the British Library from 25 October 2024 to 2 March 2025. Keep checking this blog for more information about the exhibition and our events programme, as well as details of when tickets will go on sale. 

This exhibition is made possible with support from Joanna and Graham Barker, Unwin Charitable Trust, and Cockayne – Grants for the Arts: a donor advised fund held at the London Community Foundation.

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