The issue of women’s rights within marriage in the early medieval Frankish kingdoms has been debated, with scholars such as Suzanne Wemple and Jo Ann McNamara arguing that early medieval women were restricted in their ability to choose their own relationships. This paper aims to reconsider these views in light of recent studies of women in the Histories of the 6th-century Merovingian bishop, Gregory of Tours. In particular, a close reading of the story of the noblewoman Tetradia and her husband Count Eulalius, which plays out over several books of the Histories, reveals that he did not censure women who chose to leave their husbands. This paper examines the reasons for this sympathetic presentation, and concludes that views of marriage in Merovingian Gaul were far more flexible than the closely defined and restricted relationships of the Carolingian age.
The paper discusses two Arabic panegyrics and two elegies dedicated to Norman rulers in Sicily. The poems are read at the light of new evidence about a ‘Sicilian School’ of Arabic poetry, which surfaces in the Kalbid period (10th-11th century) and evolves into the Norman age and beyond. My reading of these poems points towards a reappraisal of how courtly literary and social practices developed in Muslim Sicily were adopted by the Norman conquerors in the 12th and 13th centuries. My approach draws upon Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and field as epistemological tools to approach the transfer of these practices from a Muslim to a Christian society.
Of course, there has been a moment in history when the perception of sexuality – and specifically same sex relationships – started to change from the one typical of the ancient world to the one typical of the Middle Ages, undertaking the path of Christian ethics. Many books, essays, and articles limit their analysis to either the duo Greece-Rome, or to the persecutions throughout the medieval centuries. But how was the perception of same sex relationships for the Romans in late antiquity? In my talk I present and analyse the perception of same sex relationships in the Late Antique period through two legal sources coming from the Theodosian Code and through selected quotes by Augustine of Hippo. I describe and prove how during the Late Empire the public opinion concerning same sex relationship was not different from the one during the High Empire.