The Medieval Spinsters

It has often been said that women are hidden from history because it is, in the main, only men who figure prominently in historical narratives.  So my post today contains images of Medieval women at their daily work – spinning wool.   The modern term ‘spinster’ comes from this medieval  female occupation but it is now used when referring to an unmarried woman.

The pictures below are all from Raymund of Peñafort’s Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the ‘Smithfield Decretals’) (France, Last quarter of the 13th century or 1st quarter of the 14th century), © British Library Board.

Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the 'Smithfield Decretals') Royal 10 E IV f. 146 Woman at a spinning wheel

Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the 'Smithfield Decretals') Royal 10 E IV f. 139 An amorous encounter – Woman spinning

Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the 'Smithfield Decretals') Royal 10 E IV f. 142 Woman with spinning wheel

Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the 'Smithfield Decretals') Royal 10 E IV f. 147 Woman at a spinning wheel

Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the 'Smithfield Decretals') Royal 10 E IV f. 147v Man and woman by a spinning wheel

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One Response to The Medieval Spinsters

  1. Meris Watson says:

    I’ve done a bit of hand spinning since I was a teenager. Haven’t done it in a while, but I’m starting to get back into it. I’d like to focus on medieval techniques and materials. Any suggestions would be most helpful and appreciated. Thanks! :-)

    -Meris
    Austin, TX, USA

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