Religious Women in Medieval Time
The Middle Ages did not offer women many options of lifestyles. During these times women could either be virgin martyrs and sacrifice themselves in religious rituals, or become wives and mother. None of these options offered women a real chance to live, to create, to enjoy. New options emerged, these options allowed them not only to live free of male dominance, but also to be educated and to use their creativity in areas like music, theater, science, and philosophy. These options were monastic life, mysticism and life among the Beguines. Among the women who opted one of these ways of life, were: Hrotswitha, Hildegard and Teresa of Avila, whose work was among the most famous and recognized in the Middle Ages.
Monasteries and convents in the Middle Age were like a ray of light in the dark for women in the Middle Ages. Women who found their future in a nunnery, either by their own choosing or otherwise, had the opportunity to be educated and in many occasions to develop their creativity without the pressure of a male figure. This freedom that nuns enjoyed allowed them to work and use their creativity in many different ways. In the monasteries besides getting educated, women also had the option to be trained as illuminators. Since in these time the production and storage of sacred books and secular classics was confined to monasteries and convents, women got a chance to use their training as painters in the production of these sacred books.
The production of sacred books, allowed women of this time more than one choice at the kind of creative work they wanted to do. One of these options was to work as an illuminator. There are many illuminations from these times, but none of them could be firmly attributed to a specific woman painter until we got to the Gerona Apocalypse, the first manuscript attributed to a female artist of this time. In this manuscript, a series of fine illustrations representing the Apocalypse (compiled by Beatus). Another option for these women was to become Rubricators. The women who chose this kind of work where in charge of the design of the first letters of the paragraph, each of which was a work of art on it own. Many of the women who created this letter took credit of their work by including either their names, picture and sometimes both as part of the design of the letters (Guda, Claricia).
In addition to the work women did in sacred books, they also used their creativity in writing. Hrotswitha is one of the most notable writers from this period, in fact she was the first women playwright. These plays were read or performed by other nuns in the convent, which also allowed then the opportunity to develop their creativity while acting. Music was another field in which women did great creative work. They composed music which was then sing by other nuns, usually in ritual ceremonies (Hildegard). Another area women extended their work to was teaching, as...