WHO WAS THE BADDEST WOMAN OF THE MIDDLE AGES?
Although power in the medieval world was often wielded by men, women could make their mark too - sometimes in spectacular fashion.
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The Middle Ages can feel like - because it very often was - a thousand-year parade of men with savage beards doing deeds.
But as the unveiling next month of a statue of Licoricia of Winchester will remind us, power and influence was not completely closed off to medieval women.
So who were the baddest women on the medieval planet? I’ve tried to name five here who are not the usual suspects - Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, and so on.
Feel free to join in with the comments and add those you think I’ve missed. And huge thanks to Renae for suggesting this topic.
5. Licoricia of Winchester
A thirteenth-century Jewish financier who was one of the richest women in medieval England, Licoricia was a private banker to everyone from royalty to small farmers, and often dealt directly with King Henry III himself. A financial agreement she made with Henry after the death of her second husband gave the king enough ready cash to fund the famous (and still-standing) shrine to Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey.
In the course of her storied life, Licoricia was married twice, imprisoned in the Tower of London once and represented herself in court during a high-stakes legal case. However, in 1277 she was stabbed to death in her home - a crime that was never satisfactorily solved. The scandal made the news all over Europe.
When Höelün, chief wife of a Mongol tribal chieftan, gave birth to her son Temüjin in 1162, the baby was later said to have emerged clutching a clot of blood the size of a knucklebone. But Höelün loved the little man all the same, and she looked after him and his siblings through desperately hard times, after her husband died and she was cast out of tribal society.
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