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Mistresses and Bastards at Court

In part three of ‘Sex at Court’, Laura considers the status of mistresses and bastards.  Throughout the medieval period, there was little stigma attached to being the close kin of a powerful man, whatever side of the blanket you might have been born on, and many mistresses were tolerated by royal wives…


Digging into the secrets of the Vatican

A few months ago the Archivio Segreto Vaticano opened again after their traditional summer break, to the delight of the scholars that regularly gather there in search of unknown, interesting, surprising, or shocking documents. The archives are surrounded by an air of mystery, created partly by their name – the Vatican Secret Archives.  Christophe, a veteran of the archive who will soon be travelling back for MALMECC, remembers his first visit…

A panorama of St Peter's Square

Married Life

So what happened once you were married in the courts of medieval Europe?  The Victorian idea of ‘separate spheres’- men dominating the public world of work and politics, women responsible for the private, domestic life of home and children- does not apply in the Middle Ages. We cannot make a clear distinction between the public and the private, or even between work and home.

An illumination showing the betrothal of a couple by a priest, with joined hands