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Open Access Like She-Cats in January: An Anonymous Fifteenth-Century Misogynistic Sonnet

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During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, satirists typically drew associations between human beings and beasts as a way to debase their subjects. This was particularly true of misogynous satires, which tapped into a pre-existing theological tradition comparing women to animals. The theological tradition about women, which stretched back to the Church Fathers, was itself based in the tradition of literary satire of the classical world, and had the overt intention to dissuade men from loving. At the same time, it also contained ontological teachings about the nature of women. Women, theologians wrote, were closer to the body than men; Adam was created in God's image rendering men more spiritual, while Eve was created from Adam's rib rendering them more bodily. Thus, to many thinkers at the time, women were naturally more beastly than men. Women's sexuality only accentuated their association to animals. Being more corporeal, women were considered to be more sexual than men, indeed they were slandered as sexually insatiable. Many writers of misogynistic satires drew on these teachings but went so far as to depicting women's sexuality as debasing them to the level of animals. All of these attitudes of medieval and Renaissance misogyny are at play in the satiric sonnet which forms the focus of this paper.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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  • Until a short time ago, in German speaking countries there has neither been a periodical dealing primarly with interdisciplinary research of the Middle Ages, nor has there been a forum for regular publications in other languages. Wishing to close this gap, the journal «Mediaevistik» therefore pursues two aims: 1. To publish research methods and results which deal with studies within the different categories of the Middle Ages as a subject, and 2. to offer a forum for studies in all other important European languages and thus stressing and furthering the internationality of this particular field of research. The time frame is approx. the 8th to the 16th century, corresponding with the geographical boundaries of Latin Christianity in the High Middle Ages.

    All articles in Mediaevistik are published as full open access articles under a CC-BY Creative Commons license 4.0. There are no submission charges and no Article Processing Charges as these are fully funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched, resulting in no direct charge to authors.

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