Misogyny and misogamy in the Middle Ages had both textual and practical dimensions, that is, texts disseminating untrue stereotypes of women were often used to exclude and oppress women in society. Anti-woman and anti-marriage topoi included women’s weakness and stupidity, their lustfulness, gluttony, infidelity, love of gossip, and excessive use of cosmetics, all qualities that supposedly made them unfit for full participation in most political and religious functions. At the same time, a tradition of ‘defences of women’ existed that reversed all these topoi into a praise of women. This essay traces some of these contradictory traditions as well as writings in theology, philosophy, and medicine that were used to define women as inferior in society and eventually made women more susceptible to accusations of witchcraft. The essay also explores misogynistic elements in a variety of vernacular genres across Europe.