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Discussion Week 7

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1. Although medieval society officially accorded women a second-class status, did women attempt to circumvent this? How? What factors besides gender might affect this?
[Women had few options, even in the religious life where they were segregated and cloistered until the foundation of the Beguines. But some broke through the contraints of patriarchal tradition and became authors like Hildegard of Bingen (a famous nun, author of many religious works, and a visionary) and Marie de France (author of French lais), or achieved fame by other means.]

2. Sketch the course of the Investiture Contest in Germany. What important issues were at stake on both sides? Which side won?
[Focus on the control of the Church by the German kings. Remember that bishops, abbots of great monasteries and prelates of the Church were not then what they are today, separate from the lay world. They were essential as royal administrators and civil servants, since only the clergy by and large could read. They also controlled vast wealth and landed property. Hence, they had to swear to be loyal to the king, and they had to be endowed (i.e. invested) with their titles and properties. The question was, which came first: the bishop/abbot or the royal administrator?]

Copyright ©2008 Aidan Breen, Ph.D.