12th Century Gender Roles in Comestor’s Hester

Amanda Smith, College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, Boise State University


As a participant in the Historia Scholastica Project (HSP), I have produced for the readers of “HSP III: Comestor’s Hester” a modern understanding of the gender relations that surrounded Peter Comestor as he wrote the Historia Scholastica. My research reveals that the patriarchal system was still in use and thriving, and my work provides insight into how Comestor’s writings were affected by the gender relations of his time.

Throughout my research on gender relations in the 12th century, I have referred to the following secondary sources: Listen Daughter: the Speculum Virginum and the Formation of Religious Women in the Middle Ages, by C.J. Mews; Women and Power in the Middle Ages, by Mary Carpenter Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski; and Women in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: Literary and Historical Perspectives, by Mary Beth Rose, as well as Boise State University’s incunabulum copy of the Historia Scholastica housed in Albertsons Library.

My research began in November of 2013 in tandem with the group transcription and translation work and will be included with the finished document donated to Albertsons Library Special Collections at the conclusion of HSP III.