Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World
Despite the wealth of scholarship in recent decades on medieval
women, we still know much less about the experiences of women in
the early Middle Ages than we do about those in later centuries. In
Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World,
Valerie L. Garver offers a fresh appraisal of the cultural and
social history of eighth- and ninth-century women. Examining
changes in women's lives and in the ways others perceived women
during the early Middle Ages, she shows that lay and religious
women, despite their legal and social constrictions, played
integral roles in Carolingian society.
Garver's innovative book employs an especially wide range of
sources, both textual and material, which she uses to construct a
more complex and nuanced impression of aristocratic women than
we've seen before. She looks at the importance of female beauty and
adornment; the family and the construction of identities and
collective memory; education and moral exemplarity; wealth,
hospitality and domestic management; textile work, and the
lifecycle of elite Carolingian women.
Her interdisciplinary approach makes deft use of canons of
church councils, chronicles, charters, polyptychs, capitularies,
letters, poetry, exegesis, liturgy, inventories, hagiography,
memorial books, artworks, archaeological remains, and textiles.
Ultimately, Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian
World underlines the centrality of the Carolingian era to the
reshaping of antique ideas and the development of lasting social
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