on 21 September 1997
When it came to recording history, many ancient historians downplayed the role of women. Author Vicki Leon has set out to ensure that women - both famous and infamous - fill their rightful place in the annals of time.
As a writer, Leon has a style that is fresh, as in brazen, a tone that is witty and a voice that is modern and American.
"Uppity Women" is filled with sketches of women who changed the world a little and women who changed the world a lot. One such lady, Helene Kottanerin, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, was ordered into service as a secret agent. Her task was to steal the royal crown from Visegrad Castle for Elizabeth's infant son (the king-to-be). Kottanerin journeyed by sled over treacherous winter terrain. She successfully absconded with the royal crown, but barely survived the return trip when her sleigh plunged through the ice into the freezing Danube. Despite this misfortune, Kottanerin completed the mission and later penned her memoirs. After 500 years, this facinating lady's autobiography still awaits and English translation.
Leon's book also includes prominent names such as the prioress Eglentyle of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." Eglentyle refused to conform to the bishop's dress code for nuns, the basic black habit. Eglentyne, traveled about the world on pilgrimages, baring her forehead and dressed as she pleased wearing gold rings, hairpins, a low-cut dress, adorned with a silver girdle (belt) and furs.
Leon gives readers a glimpse of the not-so-nice women in her account of Eszebet Bathory, of Romania. This female contemporary of Dracula had a "yen to stay young" and believed that daily baths in the blood of young girls would do the wonders for her skin. She murdered some 610 young females living about her castle so she could soak in their blood. It was years before she was found out. Eventually she was brought to justice and was walled up in her own castle.
Though there is admirable research by Leon, Uppity Women is not weighed down with detail. It is a breezy read.
on 30 September 2012
Caught up in the stereotype of women in the medieval period floating around castles in tall pointed halls crying Oh My! and swooning in dispair as their knight in shining armour rode off to war?
Women of spirit, and strength and gumption lived then too. These were real women, who really existed and influenced our past.It will change your view of the women who came before us. And its a darn good read besides!