chapter  8
17 Pages

The marginality of clerics’ concubines in the Middle Ages

A reappraisal
WithRoisin Cossar

This chapter reexamines the position of the women called clerical “concubines” in the Middle Ages. It first explores how ecclesiastical officials attempted to regulate and control the women over the course of the Middle Ages. Cossar argues that modern scholars have participated in the marginalization of concubines by neglecting or ignoring them in their research. The second part of the chapter examines records from northern Italy to reveal the multiplicity of roles played by women in clerical households. Cossar also traces changes to the women’s status over time, concluding that the category of “marginal” does not adequately describe the complexity of the women’s experiences within their communities.