Experiences of Women in the 12th and 13th Centuries

In 1250, Pope Innocent IV canonized Margaret, Queen Consort of Scotland and Wife to Malcolm III, solidifying a model of medieval feminine piety and existence which was to persevere over the coming centuries. In the 20th and 21st centuries, historians have been working to redress the idealised image of medieval women and the gap in historical research which explores their role in society, their cultural understanding and their personal identities. The current field of study surrounding Scottish women includes work from archaeologists, historical geographists, demographic and literature researchers, signifying the importance of a diverse range of source material in the support of challenging medieval feminine narratives and constructing a balanced, gendered perspective. [1]

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As a short survey of historiographical sources and a discussion of social and political impacts on women during the 12th and 13th centuries, this discussion aims to explore the experience of women living within the burghs during the period. By understanding how women expressed their perception of self as legal identities and where they placed value in material objects, allows us to shape a picture of how the wider social and economic development of the burghs at the time impacted on the female population.

The current research in the field utalises a variety of traditional and non-traditional sources in the pursuit of information. A significant issue which should be first discussed is the lack of female voices from the time. Although there were early female writers during the period, particularly in Germany, there is a lack of direct evidence from Scotland which addresses the themes in this discussion. A re-examination of sources commonly used in historical study of the time, has included court records, royal and local charters, registers and family papers.[2] Indeed, a study of five women from the middle ages featured records pulled from ‘medieval chronicles, monastic records, medieval encyclopedias and art.’[3]

As the field of study has grown, so to has the breath of sources. Archaeology from convents is being used as a prosprographical investigation on the religious lives of women, their communities and their kinship.[4] Research into less traditional sources such as Hebridean waulking songs and ballads of the period are being examined, broadening the scope of literary research which could shed light on the overlooked areas of female lives, missing from commonly used state and religious sources.[5] A key theoretical framework and source of understanding is material culture. By understanding personal, domestic or social objects which belonged to women of the period, historians have been able to chart social and political changes occurring within the Burghs. [6]

Undertaking a material culture study of objects belonging to women of the time, historians are able to understand how self representation and beliefs demonstrate social changes beyond the state and church. An example of this would be a study of the annular brooch. Appearing in imagery from the twelfth century in Scotland, Europe and the Balkans, the brooch was designed with a clasp to fasten clothing at the neck.[7] The widespread adoption of these brooches, often with amorous and possessive inscriptions from husbands and often in Norman French, suggests three considerations. The first, given these items are found across Scotland in a range of materials from gold, bronze through to pewter, it suggests such small personal items were able to be easily spread and interpreted across geographical and ideological borders.[8] Secondly, the use of Norman French highlights a growing adoption of Anglo Saxon ideals, in this case the ideas of courtly love.[9]

Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, the widespread production of this item suggests the impact of large scale trade on the women living within the burghs. Cultural shifts in the appreciation of goods and craft in higher society filtered down into burgh life as trade and access grew. [10] Exposure to international methods of production, aesthetic styles and ideals such as courtly love, which was now no longer restricted to court, altered the nature of the objects coming into the possession of women. Archaeological findings from Perth suggest large scale production of affordable alternatives to more expensive precious objects such as an annular brooch.[11] Despite this medieval scale of mass production, there is evidence to understand the emotional engagement with these objects through studies of wills and burials which provides a rich picture of how women invested in small objects of meaning, particularly towards the end of the thirteenth century when personal items of adornment and dress were part of the very small collection of personal goods over which women retained control after marriage.[12] An example of this is the appearance of lead decorated spindle whorls across a diverse range of sites such as rural farmland, burghs and burials. Interesting in itself as a gender specific object, it’s appearance in burial sites of young women might suggest a very important significance in the life of its owner, particularly as local and national trade for wool and flax was significantly in growth throughout the period. What could be seen as an everyday tool for labour was considered precious and reflective of themselves as a person enough to be buried with, or bequeathed by, women of the period. [13]

Extending upon this idea of self perception, we can begin to explore the legal identity of medieval women in burghs. There is research which suggests the approach to law and gender in Scottish towns was ‘freer’ than that of the countryside, allowing for women’s legal capacity to be broader.[14] In Chapter 31 of the Laws of the Burghs, the law codes for urban centres, outlines that a man may answer for his wife, not that he must.[15] Though ecclesiastical reform had a large impact on female status and position as the monastic population of Scotland grew, female inheritance in the absence of sons was common legal practice by the reign of William I.[16] As women were unable to participate in military service, and thus not able to fulfil part of the obligations arising from any land tenure which had been inherited, their ability to hold property came into question as the continued development of the feudal system progressed.[17]

Perhaps some of the most fascinating evidence of this exercise of independence is the wax seals created for and used by women on formal documentation. These wax seals often utalised heraldic and mythological symbolism as an ‘assertion of personal identity.’[18] As individuals engaged in the business of living in burghs, such as traders, renters or property owners, townswomen had a distinct need to express their legal status. Though legal, it was not until the middle of the thirteenth century that the independent seals of women were widely accepted, often having to be presented in conjunction with that of a husband or a bishop.[19] As the practice came into common use, the adoption of symology as a means of personal expression and legal identity grew rapidly. Interestingly, the seals often referred to the balance of social and economic consequence within a marriage, sometimes in favour of the higher standing of the wife. The daughter of Conghal Strathearn’s seal included two chevrons from the heraldic symbols of the Earl of Strathearn, not that of her husband.[20]

Reflecting on the material and legal representations of women in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it becomes clear that there are several common themes across a social, economic and political spectrum which had an impact on the female experience living within Scottish burghs. Perhaps the most significant theme to arise is the importance of the function of burghs, which were designed as centres for trade and commerce, rapidly expanding local capabilities through developing trade networks and services. By 1214 there were over 38 burghs, either founded by Royal or Vassal charters.[21] In the 12th century, a levy duty was imposed on ships carrying merchandise, providing the crown with an incentive to encourage the growth of trade across ports which, alongside the introduction of coinage, saw a rise of international goods, skills and technologies enter the country.[22] The arrival of new skill sets and technologies supported the development of arts and crafts at a local level, such as pottery or metal working, which ultimately altered the objects with which women engaged with.

Alongside the growth of participation in international trade, immigration rose as burgh towns prospered, providing a second thematic which impacted on the female population. Adding to the existing populations in the burghs of local towns folk, the garrison soldiers which often occupied the associated forts or castles and their families, came an immigrant merchant class arriving from such areas as England, France, Brittany and the Netherlands.[23] Immigrants from such countries brought with them an understanding and acceptance of the feudal system, differences in approaching social traditions and practices, such as courtly love. In the traditional understanding of kinship rule in Scotland, the relationship between chief and his man was well understood, allowing for the acceptance of the more centralised pyramid system of the lord and his subject to dovetail somewhat.[24]

The introduction and acceptance of the feudal system impacted significantly on women through the questioning of their position and rights and landowners, as did the third thematic, the growing ecclesastical settlement occurring throughout the period. At an economic level, the monastic settlements brought with them foreign influence and literate administrators which improved the local spheres within which they operated.[25] Some monasteries directly impacted the economic wealth of local women, such as the lowland Cisterncian orders developing local trade in wool and flax, such as the farming which operated around Melrose Abbey.[26]

Alongside the economic benefits, the ecclesastical growth exerted power through the development of local parish and diocesan offices which brought stability and foreign influence across the geographical landscape of Scotland. Perhaps most significantly for women, the growth in monasteries and convents enabled women of means, both townswomen and those of the landed classes, to enact charters and donations to the church, exercising their legal rights over property and to publicly express their piety and devotion. These far reaching and well understood events impacted significantly on the daily lives of women living in the Scottish burghs. The societal, economic and political change brought about by the Davidian revolution strengthened their ability to enact self expression and to advertise relationships or piety to God, to imbue objects with meaning and develop generational narratives, to hold independent legal status over their property and their legacy and to learn and participate in widening culture of an expanding and forming national identity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abrams, L., Gordon, E., Simonton, D., & Yeo, E. (Eds.). (2006). Gender in Scottish History Since 1700. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Ashley, K. (2000) Review. Five Euphemias: Women in Medieval Scotland, 1200 – 1420, Vol 23. University of Hawai’i Press.

Barrell, A. D. M. (2000) Medieval Scotland. Cambridge University Press.

Barrow, G. W. S. (1981) Kingship and Unity : Scotland, 1000-1306. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Bartlett, R. (1994). The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization, and Cultural Change, 950-1350. London: Penguin.

Bawcutt, P. (2000) ‘My bright buke’: Women and their Books in Medieval and Renaissance Scotland. Medieval Women – Texts and Contexts in Late Medieval Britain. 17-34

Bedos-Rezak, B.M. (2000) Medieval Identity: A Sign and a Concept. American Historical Review 105 (5).

Brown, M. (2004) The Wars of Scotland 1214 – 1371. Edinburgh University Press.

Boorsma, R. (2011) Women of Independence in Barbour’s Bruce and Blind Harry’s Wallace, Chapter74, Medieval Scotland 1000 – 1600 (ed. J Cowan Lizanne Henderson) Edinburgh University Press.

Corr, H. (1992) Review. Rosalind K Marshall, Virgins and Viagros. A history of Women in Scotland from 1080 to 1980. Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, Edinburgh University Press

Cowan, M. (2000) Review. Five Euphemias: Women in Medieval Scotland 1200 – 1420. Scottish Tradition, 25.

Duncan Archibald A. M.(1975) Scotland: The Making of the Kingdom. The Edinburgh History of Scotland, 1.

Ewan,E. (1999) A Realm of One’s Own? The Place of Medieval and Early Modern Women in Scottish History. Gendering Scottish History: An International Approach, Publisher: Cruithne Press, Editors: Terry Brotherstone et al, pp.19-36

Ewan, E. (2009) A New Trumpet? The History of Women in Scotland 1300 – 1700. Blackwell Publishing, University of Guelph.

Ewan, E. (1992). Scottish Portias: Women in the Courts in Mediaeval Scottish Towns. Journal of the Canadian Historical Association / Revue de la Société historique du Canada, 3 (1), 27–43.

Hammond, M. H. (2011) Women and the adoption of charters in Scotland north of the Forth, ca 1100- 1286. Innes Review 62 5 – 46.

Lynch, M. (2011). Scotland: A New History. 1st ed. London: Pimlico Publishing.

Mackie J. D. (1970) A history of Scotland. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.

Neville, C. J. (2005) Women, Charters and Land Ownership in Scotland, 1150 – 1350, The Journal of Legal History, 26 (1).

Oram, R. D. (2004) David I: The King Who Made Scotland, Illustrated. University of Michigan: Tempus Press

Sheils, J & Campbell, S. (2011). Medieval Scotland 1000 – 1600, Chapter Three, Sacred and the Banal: The Discovery of Everyday Medieval Material Culture 1st ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Ross, D. (2002). Scotland: History of a Nation. New Lanark, Scotland: Lomond Books.

Sellar, D. (2011). Medieval Scotland 1000 – 1600, Chapter Four, The Family. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Stringer, K 2005, The Emergence of a Nation State, 1100-1300. in J Wormald (ed.), Scotland: a history.Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Yeoman, P. (1997). Medieval Scotland. London: B.T. Batsford.

[1] Ewan, E. (1999) A Realm of One’s Own? The Place of Medieval and Early Modern Women in Scottish History. Gendering Scottish History: An International Approach, Publisher: Cruithne Press, Editors: Terry Brotherstone et al, pp.22

[2] Ewan, E. (2009) A New Trumpet? The History of Women in Scotland 1300 – 1700. Blackwell Publishing, University of Guelph. pg. 434

[3] Five Euphemas – two reviews.

[4] Ewan, E. (2009) pg.436

[5] Ewan, E. (2009 pg. 434  / Sheils, J & Campbell, S. (2011). Medieval Scotland 1000 – 1600, Chapter Three, Sacred and the Banal: The Discovery of Everyday Medieval Material Culture 1st ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.pg. 79, 169

[6] Sheils, J & Campbell, S. (2011). Pg. 69 / Bawcutt, P. (2000) ‘My bright buke’: Women and their Books in Medieval and Renaissance Scotland. Medieval Women – Texts and Contexts in Late Medieval Britain. 17-34

[7] Sheils, J & Campbell, S. (2011). Pg. 71

[8] Ibid. pg.71

[9] Ibid. pg.72

[10] Ross, D. (2002). Scotland: History of a Nation. New Lanark, Scotland: Lomond Books. Pg. 64

[11] Sheils, J & Campbell, S. (2011). Pg. 74

[12] Sellar, D. (2011). Medieval Scotland 1000 – 1600, Chapter Four, The Family. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pg.114 / Neville, C. J. (2005) Women, Charters and Land Ownership in Scotland, 1150 – 1350, The Journal of Legal History, 26 (1). Pg. 51

[13] Sheils, J & Campbell, S. (2011). Pg. 78

[14] Neville, C. J. (2005) Pg. 45

[15] Ewan, E. (1992). Scottish Portias: Women in the Courts in Mediaeval Scottish Towns. Journal of the Canadian Historical Association / Revue de la Société historique du Canada, 3 (1), 30 / Leges Burgorum, ch 31 in Cosmo Innes, ed. Ancient Laws and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland 1124 – 1424 (SBRS, 1868)

[16] Neville, C. J. (2005) pg. 50, 27

[17] Neville, C. J. (2005) pg. 30

[18] Bedos-Rezak, B.M. (2000) Medieval Identity: A Sign and a Concept. American Historical Review 105 (5).pg. 1492

[19] Neville, C. J. (2005) pg. 46

[20] Ibid. pg.47

[21] Brown, M. (2004) The Wars of Scotland 1214 – 1371. Edinburgh University Press. pg.16

[22] Barrell, A. D. M. (2000) Medieval Scotland. Cambridge University Press. pg.33

[23] Brown, M. (2004) pg.17 / Barrow, G. W. S. (1981) Kingship and Unity : Scotland, 1000-1306. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pg.84-104

[24] Mackie J. D. (1970) A history of Scotland. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books. p.55

[25] Yeoman, P. (1997). Medieval Scotland. London: B.T. Batsford. p15

[26] Barrell, A. D. M. (2000) pg.51
 

Evolution Of Photography Over The Centuries

Presentation: To my view photography it s a way to describe things, a way to express yourself and to show to the people how you feel and also to show things that you can see with your eyes at a certain moment.
It s so interesting to grasp an idea in an image.
This work was initially meant to tackle on the photography of the 20th century, but this approch would be too limited and even unfair. Therefore, i ve decided to go back to the roots of photography and highlight the evolution it has gone through over the centuries.
The first part of this paper is dedicated to the 19th century and it s focused on the evolution of photography from a tecnical point of view. It was an intensive period characterized by revolutionary inventions and tecniques. To my point of view it s necessary or at least advisable to know the technical proceses of how a phtography comes into being because this way you can get a better understanding of your camera and of what it could do for you.
Definately photography is more than pressing a botton and the efforts people put in developing tecniques and in getting every time better pictures reflect their struggle to fight against the cruel passing of time and the transitory nature of things.
Taking a photograph is like an attempt to touch eternity, to make time stand still for a moment. But this is only one point of view out of many philosophical thoughts that shaped the concept of photography.
The second part of the work deals with photography in the 20th century, a period where photography reached new levels of technical developments and new missions. The 20th century was marked by tragic events, such as the two world wars and photography played an important part in building our historical legacy and in shaping our conscience as human beings.
The word photography comes from the Greek ‘fos’ which means ‘light’ and ‘grapho’ which means ‘to write’. The word was coined by Sir john Herschel who made revolutionary contributions and set up the basis to the way photography was being processed in the 19th century.
Photography has come into being through a long series of discoveries which have taken place along the centuries. The first idea of photography was embodied by the camera obscura box which was one of the first steps that led to photography. But while the camera obscura was more a device of exploring physical laws, the first permanent photograph, close to the modern concept we have today about photography, was taken in 1826 by Nic phore Ni pce. The photo was called ‘View from the Window at Le Gras’ and it was the result of 8 hour-exposure while the sun illuminated the buildings on both sides.
Your browser may not support display of this image.
View from the Window at Le Gras by Nic phore Ni pce.
19th Century
To understand the modern photography of 20th century, it s important to explain the different photographic process of 19th century .
The first one it s called daguerreotype (1839). I ts a process which was invented by Daguerre using silver on a copper plate.
The French government bought the patent and immediately made it public domain.
Although this process results to be the predecessor of the actual photography called Polaroid.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Camera of daguerreotype.
Your browser may not support display of this image. ‘Boulevard du Temple’ by Daguerre.
The second one is the calotype process which was invented by William Fox Talbot in 1840. He coated paper smeets with silver chloride* to create and intermediate negative image. But the calotype gabe an image which was not very precise (it hasn t the sharpness of the daguerreotype).
Your browser may not support display of this image. Camera of calotype.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Paris by William Fox Talbot.
The third one it s called wet plate and it was invented by Frederick Scott Archer* and Gustave Le Gray in 1850.
Despite it s disadvantage, wet plate collodion became enormously popular. It was used for portraiture. Landscape wprk, architectural pphotography and art photography.
This new process it s called like this because the plaque had to stay wet during all the process of making and revealed of images.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Process of wet plate.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Camera wet plate.
Your browser may not support display of this image. ‘Sea’ by Frederick Scott Archer.
The last one is gelatine bromide, this is a new process invented by R.L.Maddox in 1871 and improved in 1878 thanks to the researches of Charles E.Benett*.
Your browser may not support display of this image.
‘Relater to coating photographic plates or paper with gelatine emulsion.
The emulsion is run into a trough A containing a metal roller B, which revolves in the emulsion. One end of a scraper C rests against this roller and takes off the emulsion, which it delivers on to the plates P.
The plates are carried forward by an endless band F, and delivered to a second endless band L which passes through a chamber M cooled by ice. This second hand travels at a greater speed than the first so as to separate the plates. Below the plates is another endless hand J which washes the plates.’
Your browser may not support display of this image. Kodak.
20th Century
At the beginings of the 20th century photography is no longer a mere subject of technical improvements. It turned to be one of the most flourishing and richest periods in which photography became a powerful and unconventional expression of the modern consicousness.
It was at the early 20th century when photography gained the recognized status of an art form with a well-defined aesthetic roles and trends.
Lively debates as whether the photographer s imagination was chiefly at work before or after the shutter was pressed envisioned and actualized a completely new understanding of photography’s strengths.
One of the trends of the time, the straight photography, it was defined as a medium as capable of artistic expression as painting or sculpture.
Avant-garde artists, commercial illustrators, and journalists turned to photography as if seeking to discover through its mechanisms and materials a new artistic vehicle that captured best the soul of those times.
The artist and theorist L szl Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) gave a new aesthetic role to photography, described as a “new vision” rooted in the technological culture of the twentieth century. It seems that the philosophical ideas the governed at that time – the fragmented sense of self, the rapid pace of modern life, the burst of subconsciuoness – had a powerful influence on the way photography was perceived and produced. Abstract photograms, photomontages composed of fragmented images, the combination of photographs with modern typography and graphic design in posters and magazine pages were unconventional techniques that modernized photography.

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In France, Surrealism was the gravitational center for avant-garde photography between the wars. Launched in 1924 by the poet Andr Breton, the Surrealist movement aimed at the psychic and social transformation of the individual through the replacing of bourgeois conventions with new values of spiritual adventure, poetry, and eroticism. Essentially a philosophical and literary movement, Surrealism was greatly indebted to the techniques of psychoanalysis, and Freud’s research into free association and dream imagery. Surrealist photographers made use of such techniques as double exposure, combination printing, and reversed tonality to evoke the union of dream and reality.
During the 1920s, the mass media grew particularly in Germany, which had more illustrated periodicals, with greater circulation, than any other country in the world. In addition, hundreds of newspapers and magazines catered to special interests. There were fashion journals, various magazines promoting health and sport. As the number of new illustrated magazines increased, competition among publications grew keener and editors began to experiment with more dynamic designs and page layouts.
To close this period I would like to tell two artists of this 20s because i think that their works are very interesting:
Hans Bellmer: (March 13, 1902 February 23, 1975) was a German artist, best known for the life-sized pubescent female dolls he produced in the mid-1930s.
Your browser may not support display of this image. In this work, Bellmer explicitly sexualized the doll as a young girl. On the other hand, the doll incorporated the principle of “ball joint” , which was inspired by a pair of sixteenth-century articulated wooden dolls in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum.
Man Ray: (August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976), was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Your browser may not support display of this image. He was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. Best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography.
From the 30s the word ‘documentary’ takes on a moral and politician connotations , highly positive, associated with the conquest of truth.
For the frist time in history appears the photojournalism. It is a kind of photography that delivers events through a photo, that spreads facts of reality throughout the world but it also carries a message.
The posibility of print photographs next to the text in the newspaper and magazines was invetigate durint the 19th century through different poribilities like the lithograph or woodcut.
But the photojournalism face technical problems (in the photographic capture), as the emulsions still had very low sensitivities then to take a night phtograph or to take it in an interior force you to use a flash which was of magnesium in that time. This must be added that large format cameras and the constant need of a tripod made the journalist was very limited to work in the ‘documentary photographic discourse’.
In 1929 in USA took place the ‘Wall Street Crash’ that triggered the Great Depression.
With this crash the peasants were in a huge poorness while drought was putting things more difficult, then the goverment establish a department about photography-press (which was called Farm Security Administration) to document this.
To end with this project and continuing with the structure of the work in the 20s I m going to explain some important artists of th is period:
Your browser may not support display of this image. Eug ne Atget:(February 12, 1857 – August 4, 1927) was a French photographer noted for his photographs documenting the architecture and street scenes of Paris.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Bernice Abbott: (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991), was an American photographer.
She wanted to make the same as Atget in Paris, but she in New York. She introduced some changes because she didn t want only to photographed buildings that they were going to disappeared. She wanted to explained also the continuing changes of a city like NY.
Abott asked for scholarships to take the project to end, and finally the state gave her and put to her disposition documentary filmmakers and a team of historians to complete her photos.
Your browser may not support display of this image. August Sander: (November17, 1876 – April 20, 1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer.
He was one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. Is above its principle of neutrality which will take a lot of importance to the end of the decade of the 20s.
This effect of impersonality is gived by: sharpness, frontal, senzill frames and the rigid pose of the models.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Jacob Riis: (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914), was a Danish American social reformer, and a great photographer. He got his photos with flash, because for him the flash was a way to come to places that normally the camera without the help of it couldn t do it. He wanted his photos to aware people of the poorness.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Lewis Hine: (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940) was an American sociologist and photographer.
Between 1904 and 1905 he photographed the arrival of many immigrants at Ellis Island from southern and eastern Europe. There were a lot of xenophobia towards these immigrants.
And in 1906 he made a new project about the problem of child labor.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Dorothea Lange: (May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965) was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange’s photographs humanized the tragic consequences of the Great Depression and profoundly influenced the development of documentary photography.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Walker Evans: (November 3, 1903 – April 10, 1975) was an American photographer best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans’s work from the FSA period uses the large-format, 8×10-inch camera. He said that his goal as a photographer was to make pictures that are “literate, authoritative, transcendent”.