The medieval huntress

New research (as of 2009) has revealed that hunting was far from a male preserve in the medieval and Renaissance periods. Richard Almond looks at images that illustrate the various roles played by women

Detail from the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, showing hawking. Made in Tournai in the 15th century. (Photo by CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the December 2009 edition of BBC History Magazine

Hunting for sport, food and raw materials was a universal occupation in the European Middle Ages and Renaissance. However, medieval hunting manuals and treatises, as well as contemporary narratives and romances – the vast majority of which were written by men – present hunting as the exclusive leisure prerogative of noble educated males. These sources ignore women’s roles in, and presence at, the hunt – and disregard any significant involvement of the commons (those who were not clergy, nobility or knights).

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