Post-Black Death: a ‘golden age’ for medieval women?

In the 150 years after the Black Death halved London's population, women enjoyed new economic power in the city. Caroline Barron asks whether this era truly was a 'golden age' for English women

A fresco depicting St Nicholas receiving the sick. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine 

In April 1349, as the Black Death swept through London, Mathilda de Myms drew up her will. Her husband, John, had died the previous month, leaving his tenements to his wife and entrusting to her the guardianship of their daughter, Isabella. But the plague continued to ravage the capital, and Mathilda – wisely, as it transpired – decided to get her affairs in order. Shortly afterwards she was herself struck down.

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