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Did women have a Renaissance?

It was written in the 1970s. women historians had to push and shove to get
to this type of scholarly literature.

she is more of a social historian. She separates the classes, genders. The
materials she uses are not the ideological documents, but the social basis for
them. She refers to the sources as ideologies that reflect the values of the
mainstream, the elite, the political and social order. Her justification of
courtly literature because they tend to reveal something about the social
setting. Social historian with a little of intellectual historian.

from the beginning:

what’s revolutionary or intriguing about the question that she poses?

• one of the values associated with the renaissance is the emergence

of individual liberty and liberty meaning freedom from a rigid
hieratical structure that separates the rich with the poor. The
traditional aristocratic society starts to break down and there is a
surge of individual worth. A new sense of individualism. Focusing on
the individual. Social mobility. An erosion of the rigid structure.

• the important thing about feudalism is that the most elemental

state. The most nature political organization is the long tribal lines.
Where there is a chiefdom, and local lord of an area. The law is the
law of custom of that clan or tribe, no common law. The lord meets
out justice within that realm, and does not have to confer with
anyone else. The only time they would band together is when it
gave them some advantage, such as protection or to make them
more suitable invaders. The local lord has the most freedom in
o two kinds of social political relationship. There is a relationship
among the lords where they will come together for some
mutual benefit. This alliance is freely entered into. The other
is an obligation of servitude between the lord and the serfs
working on the land.

o a sense of vassalages. A sense of pledge between this

autonomous lords that pledge into something freely. A sense
of equality in this type of relationship. While the other is a
type of master and servant.

• medieval marriages are not based on love, rather arranged by the

parents. In that relationship the women is subordinate to the
husband. In courtly love the women and men are equal if the
woman is not superior.

what is courtly love?

• the men pledges himself to her service. Passion and romance and
love, as opposed to marriage. In her view the noble woman is
beautiful, intelligent, a worthy companion and counter part to the
man. Not primarily a sexual attraction, though, sexual union might
very well be an expression of adoration between a man and a

• an extra-marital relationship. Its not primarily a physical attraction.

A man recognizes a women of nobility and character. And the
woman recognizes the man as somebody worthy to become her

• Three very important women were key to this courtly love tradition
and was disseminated throughout

• with regard to courtly love maintains that the sexual passion was an
integral part. She tries to refute the idea that it wasn’t sexual.
Why does medieval society condone this type of extramarital relationship?

• marriage is a social political arrangement so there is not the sense

of betrayal that develops as part of this at a later time.

• the church or Christianity prides celibacy and marriage was

secondary. It is better to marry than to burn.

• In the 11th and 12th century when this traditions are developing
women retained their own names and held property. Illegitimacy is
not the big issue that it is in other circumstances. If there is a
problem with heritance the land goes to the first legitimate male. So
the wasn’t much of a problem with illegitimate children. When the
husband goes away to war or something else, the women control
the estate.

• it doesn’t really threaten marriage, the male objections are not

there, the illegitimate children concern wasn’t much either, and
women had more control.

What kind of literature does he look at when talking about the renaissance?

• Dante is important along with the Castiglione of courtly manner.

What happens socially and politically by the time Castiglione writes the

• The lords only come together if there is some need like war. Now
there is a court structure, a ruler who demands allegiance. You have
to learn the ropes and move up. The people wanting to move up are
seeking some kind of service. This is how you behave at court. You
have to fight to get to court, and then fight amongst the court to
move up by being courtly.
• They used to have their own laws and powers, now they are
consolidating and are getting more centralized. The estate now lives
on after the ruler dies. He feudal structure always wants to have
local rulers, but when they start to create a state they have their
own infrastructure that stays alive after the ruler passes on.

• The warrior has become the poet scholar. Being able to entertain
the court was very important now.

Christianity legitimacies passion. To be Christian is to love. To love god and

love others.

• The love of god imposed certain obligations on you and your life is
transformed by that. There is a behavior that is required.

• by servicing the women the men are able to show their honor and
all the Christian qualities.

• the women is the embodiment of the Christian values. This

exultation of love beyond the purely physical.

what are the key transformations Kelly-Gadol sees in Dante's love poetry?

• Beatrix is still his beloved and pledges his love to her, but she really
does not have an active role. She is a passive object of his activities.
The action really centers in his life. He is not interested sexually. Not
as a real women, most of his work is devoted to her after she is
dead. She did not have to exist, she could be a symbol of this
spiritual quest.

• the noble woman can reject or accept the noble man and the
relationship does not have to be sexual, but there is no reason why
it could not be sexual. It is up to the woman if it is or not. There is
no problem if the two meet as equals or the woman as somewhat
superior, both have committed themselves to the relationship and if
it goes sexual they have both freely decided to do so.

• influncial in the revival of Platonism. The teachings of Plato. Neo


• the subject of love. It starts off as being erotic love.

• love is a ladder that increases as you get drawn more and more
toward the person. First they might be attractive to the outside of
the person, and then they realize they like more the person because
of the inside and how they are or behave or their intellectual

• the very highest level of the ladder you realize that this things were
not self creating and that they were created by god. You now move
to a love of god.

• Ficino talks about platonic love which is a non sexual love. A higher
level of admiration of love than the physical. Dante loves Beatrix
because of the quality of character, not sexually.

• division of mind and body, of the physical and spiritual.

• ultimately what is more important is character. Women are given

the same opportunities to prove themselves as leaders as men.
05/02/2008 13:46:00
05/02/2008 13:46:00