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Courses / Modules / HIST2241 Peasants, Empresses and Holy Virgins: Women in Late Antiquity

Peasants, Empresses and Holy Virgins: Women in Late Antiquity

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 5
Module lead
Lena Wahlgren-Smith
Academic year

Module overview

Late Antiquity can be narrated as a period of powerful emperors, domineering bishops, and barbarian warlords. In this module we will be looking, instead, at the lives and agency of women during the same period. We look at women’s legal and social status and at how they exercised power, whether in their own right or indirectly as mothers, wives or sisters of powerful men. We investigate how women are portrayed in the sources, from the “good empress” Eusebia to Theodora, the actress turned empress. We discuss how and to what extent Christianity changed the lives of women and think about the effect of war on women. Our case studies will include women from a wide range of social spheres, from a Gaulish girl of humble status who eloped with her boyfriend to Justa Grata Honoria, sister of the emperor Valentinian III, who proposed to Attila the Hun in a bid to escape the control of her brother.