Madeline H. Caviness

Reframing Medieval Art:
Difference, Margins, Boundaries

Table of Contents:



Note to the Reader

Introduction: Soundings/Sightings

Chapter 1: Writing Women: Problematics of History and Language

Chapter 2: Norman Knights, Anglo-Saxon Women, and the "Third Sex:" The Masculinization of England After the Conquest

Chapter 3: Hedging in Men and Women: The Margins as Agents of Gender Construction

Chapter 4: Edging Out Difference: Revisiting the Margins as a Postmodern Project

Afterword: Social Control through Multivalent Images

Reader Comments

Chapter 2:
Norman Knights, Anglo-Saxon Women, and the "Third Sex": The Masculinization of England After the Conquest


1017. In this year king Cnut succeeded to the whole realm of England ... In this year was ealdorman Eadric slain, and Northman, son of ealdorman Leofwine, and Aethelwaerd, son of Aethelmaer the Stout, and Beorhtric, son of Aelfgeat of Devon. ... Then before 1 August the king commanded the widow of the late king Aethelred, Richard's daughter, to be brought to him so that she might become his queen. 1

voice without body, body without voice, silent anguish choking on the rhythms of words, the tones of sounds, the colors of images, but without words, without sounds, without images; outside time, outside knowledge, cut off forever from the rhythmic, colorful violent changes that streak sleep, skin, viscera.
Julia Kristeva, About Chinese Women 2

Representations of the [Vietnam] war have been used as a vehicle for the expansion and specification of altered gender relations in which ... a redefined masculinity .. presents itself as separate from and independent of an opposed feminine. ... The groundwork for regenerating masculinity is the mythos of masculine bonding. The masculine here represents itself as a "separate world," one that poses depending on the exclusion of women and the feminine.
Susan Jeffords, 1989, 168.

The Bayeux Embroidery

Exclusion or Nonpresence cf. Silencing

Years ago, I heard of a Koän (an impenetrable riddle posed to Buddhist novices to focus their meditation) that asked: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" In Japan also, I learned to listen to the silence in a water garden that is contained between the sharp blows of an overflowing bamboo spout tipping onto a rock. In the one, the hand needs another to be heard, and it is on this missing hand that the imagination first concentrates before turning to the impact of its being-missing on the one hand we have; in the other, silence becomes presence through the myriad chance sounds that might not otherwise be listened to. Imagining absent women and being alert to unexpected signals are both part of reading nonpresence, and they transform our readings of presence.

This case study ponders the exclusion of women from a famous pictorial chronicle of the late eleventh century. In chapter one, I briefly examined the silencing of women as a formative condition of modern academic discourses, perpetuating the construction of womanless histories. The distinction I use between the two terms is historiographical. When contemporary documents indicate women's active participation in an event yet this has been systematically overlooked by later historians who privileged or enhanced the roles played by men, I refer to silencing. When women's evident presence or participation was never acknowledged in the contemporary accounts, I call it exclusion, admittedly a more accusatory term than absence. 3 As a model to scrutinize the consequences of exclusion I invoke the famous Bayeux "Tapestry," which not only celebrates a military victory but also may be taken as a metonymy for the impact of the invading Normans on Anglo-Saxon women's culture at the end of the eleventh century. 4 The main case-study for silencing was taken from twelfth-century Capetian France, when it was still possible for a woman not only to inherit her father's title and lands, but to maintain control over them after her marriage; scrutiny there fell on the changed conditions of women in eighteenth and nineteenth-century France, when revisionists claimed a great patron's works for her husband. Here I am concerned with attitudes toward the "feminine" and "masculine" in the late eleventh century that can be elucidated in terms of recent theories and a variety of case studies. I will draw especially on cross-cultural and theoretical studies of sex/gender arrangements associated with situations involving male combat.

The Bayeux "Tapestry" has also, however, undergone dislocations (disloqutions) in its very naming that magnify its original exclusions. In fact it was executed in wool embroidery on linen, combining the crafts of spinning, weaving and stitching that are associated strongly with women in the European cultural tradition. Women were frequently represented spinning in Greek pottery paintings. 5 Although these are unlikely to have been known in northern Europe, at least one Norman churchman knew Greek mythology: When Baudri de Bourgeuil addressed a poem in 1102 to Duke William's daughter Adèle, Countess of Blois, in which a sumptuous version of the Bayeux hanging is described, he acknowledged the mythological legacy of Pallas and Arachne (Brown, 167-168). In several medieval images the distaff is given to Eve after the fall, and may be found in the hand of the Virgin at the Annunciation. 6 In the thirteenth-century north portal of Chartres Cathedral, women textile workers represent the (virtuous) active life. 7 Above all, as we will see, associations between women and textile arts were deeply imbedded in Anglo-Saxon language and funerary practices.

Yet in modern times, this piece of eleventh-century women's work has been wrongly called a "tapestry," a term that is readily associated with the large male-dominated workshops of northern Europe in the late middle ages that produced images woven into the fabric. 8 The correct term "Bayeux Embroidery" evokes the manual work of women, probably the very reason that previous attempts to call this famous work a Broderie have not prevailed. 9 Building on the ideas of Olive Schreiner and her analysis of Isak Dinesen's story "The Blank Page", Gubar has declared: "The art of producing essentials -- children, food, cloth -- is women's ultimate creativity. If it is taken as absence in the context of patriarchal culture, it is celebrated within the female community by the matrilineal traditions of oral storytelling." She describes this community as a "society of convent spin-sters," noting that: "For the nuns who have raised the production of flax into art, then, the blank page is a tribute to what has been devalued as mere craft or service" (Gubar, 306-307). In 1979, Chicago used embroidery to reverse this process of devaluation in her famous Dinner Party installation; embroidered runners were a component of the place settings for each individual woman commemorated. She reinforced their historicity by using the style and technique of their time, as if closely linked to their identity -- among them is Boadaceia with a Celtic motif (Parker, 209-210). It is urgent to begin, therefore, by renaming the Bayeux Embroidery. 10 This will keep the viewer mindful of the women's stories, told only among themselves, that are displaced by the authoritative Latinate men's stories rendered visible and memorable by these women's stitches.

On the other hand, there is no evidence to support the romantic attribution to William the Conqueror's queen, Matilda, though it persisted throughout the nineteenth-century and is still repeated in the popular title Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde."11 In the eighteenth century, it had been referred to as la Toilette du duc Guillaume, but Antoine Lancelot introduced the romantic idea that William's wife sweetened the bitter years of separation when he was campaigning and governing in England by creating this pictorial account of his exploits (Bertrand, 22)! He even suggested that an important lacuna at the end -- now thought to result from wear and tear or possibly theft -- was to be blamed on Matilda's death (Bertrand, 7, 47, 166; Le Thieullier, 332-335). 12 An engraved frontispiece to the Antiquités Anglo-Normandes de Ducarel published in 1823 depicted the crowned queen observing while a young man supervises the work in a hall that resembles the Cathedral. 13 This association with a great named lady, however imagined initially, provided a meager way to counteract the absence of recognizable female historical characters in the work. In Morazzoni's novel about the making of the embroidery, her construction of needle women's subjectivity masks the lack of women as subjects in the embroidery itself; she invents a woman from Picardy who answers the call to work for Queen Matilda, travelling to Caen on foot to participate in the immense project, stitching next to the queen. 14

Figure 2.5b


The attribution to women of the victor's household has displaced another marginal group -- the defeated Anglo-Saxon women who plausibly stitched this huge piece of cloth for (or for presentation to) Bishop Odo of Bayeux, who was Duke William's half-brother. 15 Textile arts were inseparably associated with women in their mother tongue. For instance, in his will the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred respected his grandfather's wishes to bequeath his land "to the spear-side, not to the spindle-side" (Doris Stenton, 24). It is even likely that the commonly paired terms for man and woman, wæpman and wifman (for boy and girl: wæpnedbearn, wifchild) opposed weapons and weaving as signs of gender; and in Old English, a spinster was a woman who spun yarn (Fell, Clark & Williams, 39-41). Spindle-whorls were common grave furnishings for Anglo-Saxon women, and one is held by Eve in the eleventh-century "Caedmon" manuscript. 16 Aelfgiva-Emma was credited by Eadmer with gifts of much-admired vestments to the Abbey of Benevento in southern Italy (Zarnecki, 20). The Norman chronicler William of Poitiers eulogized the sumptuous gifts duke William made to the churches of Caen and others on his return, and credits Anglo-Saxon women with great prowess in embroidering and weaving (William of Poitiers, 156-59); whether booty or workers were brought to the continent is not clear. 17 About the modes of existence of such workers we are still not in a position to say much, but at least one Anglo-Saxon woman's will has revealed that enslaved women, a weaver and a seamstress, were bequeathed to a female successor, thus no doubt accounting for the bedclothing and tapestries also enumerated in the will (Dietrich, 40). Women of all classes, however, seem to have participated in the textile arts (Parker, 42-44). 18 As with the Bayeux Embroidery, it has been proposed and doubted that a hanging given to Ely Cathedral by Lady Aelfflaed, Byrhtnoth's widow, after his death at the Battle of Maldon (991) was stitched by her own hand; it recounted her husband's deeds, which may have contributed to the idea that Matilda and her ladies made the Bayeux Embroidery. 19 Regardless of the seamstresses' status in society, every stitch of the Bayeux Embroidery is a more authentic witness to women's agency than are the actions of the heroes whose images they delineate. Their collective work should not be overlooked, even if we have to suppose that they followed a design laid down by (perhaps) a male draftsman and approved by a male patron; the Embroidery is truly "the fruit of Anglo-Norman collaboration (Zarnecki, 25). This collaboration is muted by the creation of a "Bayeux Tapestry Master," or any other single author, as Cholakian has remarked (McNulty 1989; Cholakian, 43-45). 20 And if, as this study will confirm, the embroidery's account of events is predominently pro-William if not pro-Norman, the claim made by some scholars that the stitchers (and/or designers) introduced subversive elements has to be evaluated. According to one scholar, "the few women who do appear, provide a woman's reading of a man's warring world" (Cholakian, 44).

Figure 2.2a

The imag(in)ed characters who participate in the series of diplomatic and military expeditions that culminated in the Norman conquest of England in 1066 include only three women, all of them associated with the Anglo-Saxons who are about to be defeated (figs. 2, 5, 7). Only one is named, but not fully enough for identification. Another three are represented nude in the margins that form upper and lower frames to the narrative (figs. 11, 17).

Figure 2.7

It will not be necessary to discuss theories for decoding margins here, since my reading is based on the assumption that they are no more (nor less) available to deconstructive reading than the central field. Indeed, the margins of the Bayeux Embroidery are best read with, rather than against, the main narrative, as McNulty demonstrated (1980 & 1989). 21

Figure 2.11a

Thus taken together, these six images of women are a tiny minority of the dense population of 626 human figures represented in the embroidery, inevitably bringing the viewer's attention back to the actions and appearance of the male majority.


Figure 2.11b


Figure 2.17a


It might come as no surprise that women are as much excluded from the version of the Norman invasion of England that is recounted in the Bayeux Embroidery as from any of the chronicles.

Figure 2.17b

Named women tend to slip out of sight and mind in times of war; as we have seen, in the quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle at the chapter heading, Aelfgyva Emma's menfolk are commemorated as heroes while her nebulous existence depends on her relationships as daughter, wife and widow. 22 That seems quite natural. Yet I shall argue that our culture, or rather its "patriarchal militarism" (Kaplan's term), has naturalized these womanless historical accounts as a strategy of its own survival. As Jeffords noted, the exclusion of women, and the appropriation of their roles by men in the representations of the Vietnam War, can be read as empowering male bonding and aggression. This chapter will elucidate how it is that women's nonpresence reconfigures masculinities. 23


The Bayeux Embroidery: The Story-line:

Figure 2.1a

Figure 2.1b

Figure 2.2a

Figure 2.2b

Figure 2.3a

Figure 2.3b

Figure 2.5a

Figure 2.5b

Figure 2.7

Figure 2.8a

Figure 2.8b

The immense linen hanging, only twenty inches high (51cm), but stretching 231 feet (70m) horizontally, belongs to the municipality of Bayeux and is now displayed in a special museum set up in the old Bishops' Palace adjacent to the Cathedral. It has been inexpensively published in its entirety several times, no doubt because of its appeal as "a historical document" (Bernstein, Bertrand, Grape, McNulty 1989, Frank Stenton, Ville de Bayeux). 24 The reader is referred to any of these publications to give credence to the bare facts cited here, especially to free themselves from the distortion that is immediately implied by illustrating those rare instances when women are depicted (figs. 2, 5, 7). Those without access to a complete reproduction might bear in mind that roughly half the length of the embroidery is given to encounters between armed horsemen (as figs. 8, 9, 11, 15, 19), an eighth to military crossings of the Channel,

Figure 2.9a

Figure 2.9b

and the remaining three-eighths to male-to-male transactions concerning the assertion of power or delegation of authority (figs. 1, 3, 5, 7, 13, 14, 20).

Figure 2.11a

Figure 2.11b

Name labels and short declarative Latin tituli are placed toward the upper edge of the pictorial field, embroidered in display capitals as large as the heads of the principle figures. 25

Figure 2.13a

Figure 2.13b

Action is introduced by hic (literally "here"), usually for a new cycle of events, or by ubi (literally "where");

Figure 2.14a

Figure 2.14b

these connectors refer strictly to place only in relation to the pictorial representation ("here you see" or "in which you see"), but might loosely be read in the temporal sense of "next," or "when." 26

Figure 2.15a

Figure 2.15b

The borders are also a significant component, occupying a full third of the vertical height of the hanging; in them various motifs, for the most part bestial, are separated by slanting frames that provide a staccato rhythm to the virtually uninterrupted action in the central field.

Figure 2.19a

Figure 2.19b

Important dramatic elements, such as the boats crossing the Channel, the palaces of kings and dukes, or the military engagement at Hastings, extend upwards or spill over into these margins (figs. 3, 8, 19). Some marginal episodes may constitute something like similes or moral commentaries on the main-frame events, constituting "a gloss, in the strict dictionary sense" (McNulty 1989, vii, 38, 39, 41).


Figure 2.20a


Figure 2.20b


The events depicted in the embroidery do not coincide with any single extant textual account; the pictorial cycle constructs its own authoritative "history" of nearly three years (1064-1066), concentrating on the struggle for the English throne between Edward "the Confessor's" brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, and Edward's second cousin on his mother's side, Duke William of Normandy, "the Conqueror." 27The embroidery begins with the bearded Anglo-Saxon king, "Edward Rex," seated on his throne in a fortified palace, conferring with two laymen (fig. 1). An ornamental border at the left confirms that this is the beginning of the cycle. The first event, introduced by the connector ubi, is Duke Harold setting out to the right for Bosham with his knights. He and his men wear short tunics, moustaches, and bobbed hair that covers their necks. Harold, riding with his hawk on his wrist, may even be parodied in the lower margin by "a winged centaur: at once man, horse, and bird" (McNulty, 1989, 39). Despite the resonance of their label (milites), the expedition is clearly designated as peaceful and even frivolous --- these members of the knightly class have hounds and falcons instead of arms; at Bosham they dismount to pray in a church and to feast in an upper chamber before embarking to cross the Channel. 28

Figure 2.17a

Figure 2.17b

Harold's adventures, from his embarkation to his return from the continent and eventual coronation as king of England, -- events that one author has characterized as the "legal pre-history of the conquest" (Werckmeister, 557)-- occupy nearly half the embroidery (figs. 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20).

Figure 2.20a

Figure 2.20b

Throughout this section, and in the campaigns that follow, unless they are in full armor the Normans are recognizable by their short-cropped hair (the nape of the neck actually appears shorn), smooth-shaven faces, and below-the knee surcoats (in contrast to the wide-skirted tunics of the Anglo-Saxons that scarcely reach the knee; e.g., figs. 14, 15). Military mobilization, invasion, rampage, and battle occupy all of the second half of the embroidery (figs. 7, 8, 11, 12, 13)

Figure 2.12

; it is generally assumed that the missing right end losed with William enthroned, having disposed of the usurper and representing the maternal blood line of his cousin Edward.


The mid-section is punctuated by Harold's coronation, which demonstrated that he had neglected Edward's wishes for Norman succession, and presumably defied oaths taken on the relics of Bayeux; it provides an imposing, static moment in the hurly-burly of activity that occupies most of the picture surface (fig. 3); he is frontally enthroned, flanked by Archbishop Stigand, whom his father had aided in usurping the archiepiscopal throne of Canterbury more than a decade earlier (Grape, 123). Harold on his throne invites comparison with the two right-rulers who bracketed all the events, but the contrast with the surviving figure of Edward the Confessor is paramount; the travesty of Harold's usurpation, so clearly viewed as such by its bystanders to the right, is signaled next as presaging doom because a comet is sighted. Yet these scenes do not occupy the symmetric midpoint as one might expect. 29 Instead, they punctuate a passage of about fifty feet that begins with Harold serving in William's campaigns and taking the oath on the relics under his direction, and ends with a deeply disturbed Harold receiving the news of the comet; his unstable posture on the throne as he turns back against the narrative flow, the ground literally cut out from under his feet by the invading fleet foreshadowed in the lower margin, contrasts with the assured command of the parenthetical figure of Duke William at the oath-taking (fig. 3).

In this section also, considerable importance is given to the death and burial of the saintly king Edward, whose body was laid in the great church he had built at Westminster. The pace of the narrative slows here, in part because the left to right movement is reversed in order to express the temporal sequence of the completion of the church and the king's burial in it. The reversal also drains Harold's moment of triumph of any sense of legitimacy, since he has no "following" (fig. 2).

Figure 2.2a

Figure 2.2b

. The tightly juxtaposed city-wall, royal audience hall, elaborate Abbey Church complete with towers, turrets and weather vane, and two-story fortified palace, together give a strong impression of an Anglo-Saxon civilization that he does not master.


A passage of comparable length follows, during which Duke William is informed of Harold's neglect of his oaths, and begins to take steps to invade by ordering ships to be built. Fully half the embroidery's length is then given to the military build-up, preparations for battle, and the engagement itself; a mounting tempo, with relentless movement to the right, sweeps the conquering forces across the Channel and on to victory at Hastings. William the Conqueror seems ubiquitous, coming and going among his men and leading them to victory; he appears, named, nine times in this sequence, and as he issues the command to charge, two winged horses hover above him. Harold's name, on the other hand, is assumed into the roles of his messengers and brothers, as if he perishes with them. The final representation of "King Harold's" death as one among a group of standing and falling knights has caused historians difficulties, compounded by restorations to the embroidery that wanted to include an arrow piercing his eye (Grape, 24). This collective ignominy is not material for a martyrdom.

Gender Imbalance in the Bayeux Embroidery:

1066 is in the category of things that "every schoolboy [=in England] knows:" it signifies the Norman Conquest. Since the subject of the Bayeux Embroidery is the armed conflict of rival kings, I can already hear some complaints that I must be a complaining woman to dwell on the exclusion of women from the representation of such events. This monumental work was not art for women, even though their having stitched it might constantly keep them in the viewer's mind as he/she watches the images unfold. In fact, as in most readings of "art," unless it is by a "great master," authorship and process are displaced by the representations of agency and action. Yet since the Embroidery represents such a canonical moment in two national histories, it seems imperative to make manifest the void between non-presence and anonymous trace.

A few statistics are a dramatic indication of the significance of class and gender, and also indicate the amount of sheer manual work in the embroidery. 30 By my own count, in the pictorial field there are 39 male figures belonging to the secular ruling class (many, of course, are multiples of the same individual, such as Harold and William); in addition, there are twelve ecclesiastics, 99 armed men on horse or on foot, 131 men servants, and one small boy, for a total of 282 males. The first three groups have 179 horses, of which half are very clearly stallions, and most of the others of indeterminate sex because they are partly hidden from view. 31 The knights also have eleven hounds (with more spilling over into the lower margin), and seven falcons.

Figure 2.2a


Figure 2.2b


By contrast, there are only three women in the main field: a full-length figure with quite a common Anglo-Saxon name, an anonymous half-length mourner at the deathbed of Edward the Confessor, and a full-length but diminutive Anglo-Saxon mother or nurse escaping a burning house with her boy (figs. 2, 5, 7).

Figure 2.5a

Figure 2.5b

There are no Norman women-- no Duchess Matilda seated with her husband as she plausibly could have been since she ruled as a regent in his absence, no women at the Norman courts -- or defending their husband's castles, as some had in "real life" (Stafford 1994, 244-245).

Figure 2.7

The lack of a consort at the court of Westminster, where the lone figure of Edward the Confessor opens the cycle, coincides with the actual exclusion of his spouse for political reasons (fig. 1); Edward had married Harold Godwinson's sister Edith, in the hope of staving off a plot to take the throne, but when her father, Godwin, Earl of Wessex, led a rebellion, she was confined in the monastic house for women at Wilton. 32 Her exclusion from court as a trouble-maker probably prevented Edward from providing an heir to the throne, though the hagiographic version which earned

Figure 2.1a

Edward canonization was that he refused to consummate the marriage, wishing to remain a virgin. 33

Figure 2.1b

It is from this unspoken lack of a child-bearing wife that the whole plot of the Embroidery unfolds.



Figure 2.8b


The figures in the central field can be supplemented by others in the borders, including hunters and agricultural workers as well as many of the dead at the final battle, some of whom are stripped of their battle clothing (fig. 8). Curiously, the borders also contain eight other nude figures, in aggressive postures, including three couples (figs. 11, 17). The number of lewd nudes is insignificant in the context of male representations, but there are an equal number of nude and clothed women (three of each), and there are in addition two grotesques in the form of female centaurs (fig. 9). The tenor of the marginal zone is defined by the fact that wild beasts and chimeras by far outnumber the bridled horses in the main field.


Figure 2.9b


In the saga of politics and battles, with so many appearances by statesmen, soldiers, and men servants, only two women are represented clothed and full-length. The one named figure, Aelfgyva, remains of uncertain identity because of the silences of history. 34 The only named male figure that has been surrounded by such uncertainties is "Turold," but as Bachrach has pointed out, this is because in his case the historical squire of that name is insultingly diminished in stature, being represented as a low-class groom (12). The case for intended ridicule is strengthened by his beard, which prevents the viewer from supposing that he is a mere boy (fig. 9). 35

Figure 2.11a

Figure 2.11b

Intent upon historical clarifications of this nature, it is significant to my theme of exclusion that Bachrach completely overlooks the only named woman, stating that "apart from the major historical figures . . . only three persons are singled out by name in the Tapestry -- Turold, Wadard, and Vital" (5); the emphasis is mine -- he might as well have said three men. 36 Aelfgyva is associated with "a certain clerk," whose anonymity is perhaps a protection, and with a suppressed verb, the only time that language breaks down in the whole length of the embroidery (fig. 5). 37 Many authors have played a guessing-game with Aelfgyva, and for them her identity has always hinged on the question: What important man's widow / wife / betrothed / sister / daughter was she? 38

Figure 2.17a

Figure 2.17b

McNulty's identification of her as the first "wife" (actually concubine) of King Cnut of England, who was said to have passed off the sons of a cleric and a lowly workman as his, is still the most convincing, and underlines the desperate position of childless women in patrilineal society (McNulty 1980); it has the virtue of aligning itself with the body-language of the cleric, one arm cockily akimbo, the other thrust into Aelfgyva's domestic space to push aside her veil and chuck her under the chin, and with the mirroring of these gestures by a hyper-virile nude in the margin below. 39 Another naked man, to the left, crouches over two large tools, an adze perhaps supplying a generalized referent for the lowly workman, and an erection that, like Harold's pointing finger above, signals Aelfgyva's "seduction." The name Aelfgyva also, however, resonates with Cnut's second wife and widow, Aelfgyva Emma, and this provides another allusion: in 1043, her son Edward the Confessor had accused her of an affair with the Bishop of Winchester (Kelly). In either case, reading as a modern woman, these nude and clothed men surrounding the rather timidly positioned Aelfgyva pose the threat of rape, but for the audience of the time they probably merely tainted her. If there was uncertainty as to the identity of the figure on the part of some contemporary viewers, it would result in a general smear on Anglo-Saxon women and widespread doubt about the legitimacy of their offspring. I prefer to insist on this general resonance than to try to establish a unitary truth as to which Aelfgyva was intended.


No one has dealt directly with the missing verb, though McNulty (1980, 665) wrote of the inscription as "deliberately incomplete, carefully ambiguous;" the lacuna for him indicates an act that might have been, a rumor rather than a fact. My proclivity to find a suppressed obscenity in the missing verb (a short one in the space allowed), does not quite fit the case argued by McNulty, but it would agree with body-language; this suggests that the cleric and Aelfgyva had sex, rather than that they conspired together concerning the cleric's son. The silencing by verbal exclusion works to the greater detriment of the woman since the unspoken is most often the unspeakable; the censored must have been censorious. 40 Like the charges of heresy against the beguines, mentioned below, the accusations against Aelfgyva in the Embroidery go unanswered, so she can never be cleared of them -- the more so, in that the charges were never clarified. Her very presence at this juncture, whether in the way of or in collusion with agreements between male leaders, places her in a causal relationship to the events that follow. McNulty is right that if Aelfgyva is a topic of conversation, what is said needs to meet with Harold's agreement --as would the illegitimate claim of Aelfgyva of Northampton's line to the throne -- yet the pantomime arranged to invoke it, by its very nonspecificity raises questions about more than one Anglo-Saxon woman. 41

Figure 2.21


The fact that Aelfgyva's identity is still disputed underlines the lack of specificity in this and other verbal and pictorial accounts of medieval women. The quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle at the chapter heading also refers to an Aelfgyva, the daughter of Richard of Normandy, who became Cnut's second wife; to distinguish between his two wives they were sometimes called Aelfgyva of Northampton, who fled with "his" two sons to Norway when Cnut took the English throne, and Aelfgyva Emma who had also been the second wife of Aethelred, by whom she bore Edward the Confessor. Royal women who are bounties of war are weak signifiers, especially when scarcely distinguishable by name; these values were projected into Biblical society by the Anglo-Saxon illuminator of the Cotton Aelfric manuscript (figs. 4, 21, 23).

Figure 2.23

Had Aelfgyva Emma been invoked in a dignified manner in the embroidery, she would have embodied William's claim to succeed his cousin on the English throne (she was his great-aunt); in Anglo-Saxon art she had been represented as an honored patron, whether with Cnut or as the queen mother of two kings, Harthacnut and Edward (fig. 10; see also Heslop, 156-61, 180-88). 42 I will return to this discrepancy later.

Figure 2.10


The second woman included in the central frame dries her eyes with her veil as she sits at the foot of the bier prepared for the dead King Edward in an upper chamber of the palace at Westminster (fig. 2). 43 If an informed viewer supposes she attests to the return of his childless queen, Edith, whom he had sent away from court, they must note her namelessness and humility; as noted before, she functions generically as women should. This sole mourner is dwarfed and removed from the main action, which involves a cleric and courtiers supporting the king's body. A similar mourning function, but a more central role, is given to Cainan's wife in the Cotton Aelfric manuscript some thirty years earlier (fig. 4). 44 Many times, the Virgin at the cross offers the same stereotyped image.

The third woman is read by most as an unnamed mother, empathetically rendered as the victim of war, her house torched as William's troops ravage the English countryside in order to draw Harold's army into battle (fig. 7).

Figure 2.7

If we read this empathy into the needle women who gave form to her, the motif might be thought of as subversive (Cholakian, 44). Like Aelfgyva, she is framed within domestic space, and her existence before an audience depends on a (perhaps her) male offspring. Yet the inscription refers only to the destruction of the house. Her tiny figure, and that of the boy she leads by the hand, are dwarfed by the Norman soldiers who set fire to the roof; yet they, in turn, are like boys beside Duke William and Harold's messenger in the previous scene. In the dominant political narrative, this diminutive woman and child are mere signs, codifying the message William sends back to Harold to urge him into battle to save his people from such disasters; they are part of men talking to men about war. This powerless woman is even smaller than the servants to the left, who perform an important military function by digging fortifications. This, and the larger context, pressure the reader to collude with the ideology of the victor, concluding that she is a creature of little importance. If we sympathize with her, we fall into the trap that William had set for Harold; the hesitation and correction mark her as a recuperative figure. She is also a metonymy for the exclusion from now on of all women from the main frame, the last woman performing her role by leaving the stage to men and horses.


The memory of her domesticity and care-taking is almost immediately erased by the lewd cast given to the sexual encounters of Anglo-Saxons; two aggressive nude couples in the margin hover like obsessive fantasies or obscene battle cries above the Norman troops as they ride into battle (fig. 11): 45 A woman accosts a bearded man with an axe and huge testicles, a lamp between them perhaps connoting that she is a lady of the night, and a hyper-virile mustachioed man argues with a woman, whether threatening to rape her or negotiating terms is impossible to say. I will return to the subtler inflections of these scenes, with a consideration of other nudes in the margins. Here they seem to enact some expletive such as "those Anglo fuckers."

In contrast to the marginal figures, all three women in the central field are framed by domestic space; the carved door-posts of Aelfgyva's house are echoed next to the Westminster mourner; the fleeing woman leaves a house with an upper chamber (figs. 2, 5, 7). It is as if these women behave according to the ancient code of Sophocles and Aristotle: "Silence is the adornment of Women." Macaria, in Euripides' play, says the "best thing for a woman is not to leave the closed interior of her house." In that tradition, as in battle, men are alone in dying heroically in the open. 46

Figure 2.12


The use of domestic cyphers as framing devices for women brings attention back to the dominant forms of architecture in the Embroidery. Powerful men -- notably Duke William, also Bishop Odo -- are associated with very sturdy, turreted castles and churches that dominate the "landscape" from hill-tops (figs. 7, 12). These have been referred to recently as "places of power" (Lewis, 8). Even in his encampment at Hastings, William is seated in a gabled pavilion (fig. 13). 47 The castles invoke (and would have invoked for the original audience) chess pieces, to be won with their knights and bishops. Several, with a barred entryway between twin towers, express the duality and vulnerability of female sex, as characterized by Irigaray, foils to the phallic unity of the sword that is so frequently portrayed here. Towers are a frequent metaphor for various parts of the beloved in the Song of Songs, as when she says: "I am a wall, and my breasts like towers" (Song of Solomon, 8:10).

Figure 2.13b

Castles like the ones in the Embroidery reappear later in medieval representations of the storming of the castle of chastity, as on ivory mirror backs and caskets; they are "manned" by women who pelt roses at the knights attempting to penetrate the defenses. 48 And Castillian epics feminized Muslim strong-holds and cities, as brides to be taken (Mirrer, 172).


Collectively, these isolated elements of a manmade environment place in question the absence of landscape features, other than a wavy groundline; there are no lush flowering plants, no ponds and rivers, no distant hills, no space, such as could have been drawn by an artist who knew the Utrecht Palter or its Anglo-Saxon copy (Bernstein, figs. 23-24, 27, 38, 91). 49 It is as easy to naturalize this exclusion as a reduction to speed up the telling of the tale, just as it is easy to naturalize the nonpresence of women in a history of politics and war that excluded women. The exclusions, however, conspire together if we consider the metaphorical power of the earth as female fecundity; this land is to be taken, but there is no fertile outlet for virile energy.

Binary masculinities, Norman and Other:

Figure I.1

Representations of hyper-virility, however, dominate many of the events portrayed in the Embroidery. The sheer number of males -- men and horses -- has been noted above. 50 The lack of women allows concentration on the construction of masculinity, and to perceive distinctions among males. As Theweleit observed (in fascist writing): "Relationships with women are dissolved and transformed into new male attitudes, into political stances, revelations of the true path, etc. As the woman fades out of sight, the contours of the male sharpen" (35). Among strategies used to keep the viewer mindful of the bellicose skills and intentions of the Normans is the display of male potency. Part of its representation is frankly genital. Although Normans do not expose themselves (as the weaker Anglos do), their horses are especially well hung. They are the cock-horses of grown men, those penis-extenders whose function in the construction of gender I examined in the Introduction (fig. I.1, 3).

Figure I.3

One of the most dramatic cases is the image of Duke William presented with his war horse, before leading his men into the Battle of Hastings (fig. 12). He emerges from Hastings in patterned chain mail that links him to the very stones of the adjacent turret, a metaphorical tower of strength, the hilt of his sword jutting out of his groin as a metaphor of virility; and he receives a black stallion from his squire -- according to some accounts, the Spanish charger that King Alfonso of Aragon had sent him -- it too readied for action (Davis, 76 cf. 80). 51 One might say both Duke and horse have their dander up. Such aggression and potency led one historian to conclude that medieval "maleness is defined as an erection" (Bullough, 43).

Figure 2.12

The designers of the Embroidery may have been aware of Roman uses of the phallus or male genitalia as gate markers on their forts, for instance at Chesters in Britain; they seem to say "mine's bigger than yours" or "bugger off!" 52 This tradition, associating virility and potency with military prowess rather that with fertility, continued throughout the middle ages, and fireplaces with phalloi carved on them were even made in Normandy into the seventeenth century, protecting the patriarchal hearth. 53

Figure 2.5b

Paradoxically, my perception of the hyper-virility that defines the conquerors, and of the lasciviousness that labels the vanquished, was helped by iconoclastic attacks in the nineteenth century (Caviness 1998, 168-74). 54 A Bowdlerized copy of the Embroidery, made at an English boys' school by a master and his class about the time the first pornography law went on the books (1857 ) confirms the extent of emphasis on male genitalia in the original;

Figure 2.6

all are excised (Anon.; figs. 5 & 6, 17 & 18). 55 With the reduction of the hyper-virile men associated with Aelfgyva to sexless wraiths in this copy, one might say that the "mother-fuckers" have been deleted. By then their metaphoric weight was no longer understood, nor was it realized that obscenities can reinforce taboos (cf. Nelson below). 56


Figure 2.17a

Figure 2.17b

The battle is largely structured by the recurrent figure of William as potent hero, riding upright with a club-like baton, finger pointing, his stallion fretting at the bit, reined in as is said of passion in other contexts. As we have seen, when William moves against Harold, the tight ranks of his mounted vanguard seem, like any combat-ready troops, to have sexual exploits on their minds (fig. 11); above their heads, the two lewd-nude Anglo-Saxon couples are positioned more like wrestlers than lovers, and McNulty has noticed the occurrence here of other scenes of aggression and domination, such as the wolf stalking a donkey, and the falcon seizing a rabbit (McNulty 1989, 27, 37-38, 76).

Figure 2.18

The latter is a French pun on chasing pussy, since coni (rabbit) invokes con (cunt), but the falcon is the female of her species, which destabilizes the heterosexual chase. 57 The Norman riders are armed with spears at the ready, and display their mail-covered torsos against their shields; although identically clad, their opponents, by virtue of riding against them toward the left, are made to appear as if hiding behind their shields, and their spears and swords angle downward. As in the Castillian poems celebrating victories over Muslims, conquest is by the sword and the prick (Mirrer, 172).

Figure 2.11a

Figure 2.11b


One of the clear cases of construction of difference during the battle is in the depiction of two groups of foot soldiers (Bernstein, Pls. LIX-LXI). The Norman bow men stride forward, arrows at the ready to penetrate the enemy; they are accompanied in the lower margin by a pair of falcons grasping birds in their beaks, while the knights who follow are signified by wolves carrying off geese, and by a pair of winged griffins. The knights who lead the bow men are evidently about to overrun a group of Anglo-Saxon spear men whose bodies already recoil, their huge swords hanging useless beside them; among them is a small archer in a short tunic, tilting backwards and handling his bow like a harp. The phallic signifiers of sword, spear, and arrow are enlisted in a discourse of collective aggression and conquest. Male bonding among knights is poignantly attested to in chivalric literature much later. In the fifteenth century, Jean de Beuil, companion to another Norman hero, Joan of Arc, wrote: "One loves one's comrade so in war. When one sees that one's quarrel is just and one's blood is fighting well, tears rise to the eye.

Figure 2.8a

Figure 2.8b

A sweet feeling of loyalty and pity fills the heart on seeing one's friend so valiantly exposing his body in order to do and fulfill the command of our Creator. And then one prepares to go die or live with him, and for love not to abandon him." 58 The Norman version shows no sign of such tenderness; these military men are united by their sculpted hair and uniformly long hauberks (figs. 8, 11, 12; cf. Morgan, below).


Preparation for battle had involved opportunities for male bonding across classes. Harold was notably absent when the Normans landed at Pevesney (he was campaigning in the north against Haakon of Norway, but this is not alluded to in the Embroidery). This gave ample time for the man servants of the Norman knights to prepare a great feast; the exclusion of women from the preparations creates an extended scene of the appropriation of their normal tasks by enlisted men, providing the men's club atmosphere that allows the bonding needed for battle (fig. 13). 59

Figure 2.13a

Figure 2.13b

Next, Duke William and his step-brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux are enthroned in a pavilion, with the Duke's full brother Robert, their fraternal solidarity a counter-statement to Harold's unstable moment of glory at his coronation (figs. 3, 13).


Figure 2.3a

Figure 2.3b

Figure 2.3c

If we leave these images of virile military men and turn back to the depictions of Anglo-Saxons prior to the battle, a lack of masculinity in their attire and affect becomes apparent; in relation to Normans they are emasculated, an effeminate, foppish, philandering Other. The short tunics, small moustaches and "page-boy" haircuts noted in the description of Harold and his companions in the initial scene prove to be consistent for the Anglo-Saxons (figs. 1, 2, 3, 15). Their appearance contrasts with the smooth-shaven Normans in longer surcoats that look like leggings, their hair so short that their necks appear shaven (figs. 5, 7, 9) 60 When they are seen together, as when an Anglo is escorted before Guy of Ponthieu, the islander is also smaller in stature (fig. 14). One of Harold's attributes is a falcon, polysemic symbol of foppish pastimes and dubious sexual identity. In his first appearance he also had hounds. From the 1090's on, a rapidly developing rhetoric of blame explained the losses of the Crusaders by their sexual promiscuity; by 1145 the first codified sumptuary law issued by the pope prohibited their concern "with costly garments, external appearances, dogs, hawks, or other things which are signs of licentiousness;" Crusaders must "devote their attention and diligence to arms, horses, and other things with which they may fight against the Muslims." 61

Figure 2.1a

Figure 2.1b

Such strictures seem to have applied earlier to William's secular force.


The representation of longer hair on the English is matched by a charge of effeminacy leveled against them in the textual tradition. William of Malmesbury, writing in England after the turn of the century, claimed that Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester had been able to predict their defeat by the Normans on the basis of their long hair; he was said to have said that men "who were ashamed to be as they were born but imitated women would be as useless as women at the defense of their homeland," but as Stafford pointed out: "These are not prophetic visions of 1066 but a later interpretation of defeat as a result of effeminacy" (Stafford 1994, 146-147).

Figure 2.2a

Figure 2.2b

Stafford dismisses the bishop's claim that short hair is "intrinsic to some unchanging male nature," as merely reflecting "the fashion of the military men of about 1100 AD." Yet their dictum has a basis in the writings of St. Paul: "Nature herself teaches you that while flowing locks disgrace a man, they are woman's glory. For her locks were given for covering" (I Corinthians 11: 13-15). 62 The Pauline proscriptions were probably taken up by churchmen during the reforms of the eleventh century. We find Saint Ivo of Chartres, who before the Conquest was at Bec in Normandy with Saint Anselm of Canterbury, condemning "immodest fashions" in his sermons; he listed "over abundant and disorderly hair," womanish clothing, and excessively long shoes. In the 1090s this list was elaborated with the help of Saint Paul in his Panormia, a guide to correct behavior in marriage. There, he admonished men not to wear their hair long like a veil; "natural order" dictated that women should be veiled, because they are not the image of God, and that men must rule over them, so long hair in men would be a sign that they had given up this natural right. 63 Short hair was thus firmly identified with natural moral and physical supremacy. William of Malmesbury also told the scornful anecdote of Harold's scouts returning after sighting the Norman troops with the report that they were almost all priests (Bartlett, 45).

Figure 2.15a

Figure 2.15b

A shorn neck is not likely to be confused with a tonsure, but the intention was probably to convey the association between hair removal and moral discipline, including sexual renunciation (cf. Bartlett, 57). Since these texts may all be later than the Embroidery, and hair-length is a very clear visual sign of difference, it may be that the pictorial tradition influenced the textual one; both writers might have seen the Embroidery. 64


Hair length, as commented upon by medieval writers, has been studied recently, both in conjunction with the length of clothing as causes for "scandal," and as "a marker in a system of oppositions" (Bartlett; Platelle).

Figure 2.7

The issue of men's hair length was not new around 1100, nor was confined to the shores of the Channel; it already had a long history as an indicator of class, gender and ethnicity. 65 But in Normandy, long hair was seen by Odericus Vitalis (ca. 1090) as both effeminate, and as a ploy to attract women, and it not only crossed gender boundaries, but also confused the social boundaries between the well-to-do and those in need of charity (penitents, prisoners and pilgrims: Platelle, 1079). It seems that changed, or simply different (or foreign), customs could provoke anxiety by destabilizing familiar codes, and that hair length distinguished between two masculinities, one virile, the other both effeminate and womanizing. 66 Thirty years after the Battle of Hastings, Saint Anselm of Canterbury insisted that penitents return their hair to "the virile style" during Lent (Platelle, 1080). Such pleas were part of the remasculinization of England after the Conquest.

Representing Anglo-Saxons as long-haired in comparison to the shorn Normans was in concert with prevailing opinion that they lost because they were effeminate. Furthermore, their leader Harold is represented in undignified and even unmanly stances, often contrasted with the commanding postures of the Norman nobles, especially of Duke William.

Figure 2.15a


Figure 2.15b

In each confrontation, Harold is emasculated. In his continental expeditions as Anglo-Saxon envoy, Harold's movement from left to right, the direction he was sent at the outset by King Edward, is several times blocked by aggressive Normans, even at the very moment of his landing. Harold arrested by Guy of Ponthieu provides a first dramatic instance of his emasculation (fig. 15).

Figure 2.14a

Figure 2.14b

Accompanied off his ship by two boys with long legs bared to wade ashore, Harold is seized at a vulnerable moment, at the very waters edge where an anchor intrudes hazardously between his own bare legs. His spear and mantle gone, his tunic is suddenly represented multicolored, as if its skirt falls in pleats, like a kilt. The impropriety of his garment is parodied by a hyper-virile hunter in the margin below the anchor, holding two phallic clubs, his genitals exposed under a too-short tunic. 67 An early eleventh-century Norman writer had satirized the Irish in just these terms; the butt of his scatological humor, Moriuht, is repeatedly exposed, ready for sex of all kinds, heterosexual, homosexual, passive or aggressive (Warner of Rouen, 74-75, 78-79, 82-87). The rider approaching Harold, aiming his index finger toward the English prisoner, is aggressive, commanding, in control of his sheathed sword and entire mount. He is backed up by an orderly row of mounted guards with shields and spears, above whom are a pair of griffins in the margin. Below the Normans are the horned beasts -- a goat, a bull and a stag -- stalked by the hyper-virile hunter, but a lion steals his prey; such violent sports ready men for battle.


Harold's coronation has already been described, its legitimacy placed in question by the presence of the usurper-archbishop Stigand, and by the distracting appearance of an ill-boding comet (fig. 3). It is prepared by very timid-looking Anglo-Saxons whose broad-bladed axes, as emblems of power, lack the phallic unity of the ubiquitous Norman swords and spears. 68 Below the comet, and after an enthronement that lacks any indication of actual unction or coronation, Harold (not titled King in the inscription) now inclines to listen to a messenger. Word is brought of the phantom-like Norman ships that Harold seems to gaze at in the lower margin. The broken posture of the newly-crowned monarch suggests instability; it even has a counterpart in the broken figure of Death who crumbles at the Crucifixion in the tenth-century Prayerbook of Abbess Uta of Regensberg, or in later figures of Synagogue who faint before Ecclesia, or in the Abbot signifying poor rule in a twelfth-century Austrian manuscript

Figure 2.16

(fig. 16). 69 The resonance is again emasculating, especially in contrast with the commanding gesture and presence of the Count, who had arrested him in Ponthieu, enthroned with his sword balanced vertically from his knee (fig. 14).


Difference is dramatically marked at the first meeting of Harold and William (fig. 17). They are seated on stallions of a similar dun color, yet they are unequal in many details: Harold, holding only his falcon, is demurely led by an imposing captor, who humiliates his prisoner by disdaining to mount a war horse for the task, making do with a long-eared mare or a mule. William points at his captive, and his sheathed sword is supported by the spears and shields of three mounted guards. The Norman Duke occupies a position of extraordinary strength, in that he rides counter to the main movement of the narrative, blocking Harold's way forward in time as well as space. In the lower margin, following a hunting kill, another pursuit is invoked by a nude man reaching with both arms and an enormous erection toward a nude woman who is positioned immediately under Harold. Is this a joke about his philandering with maid servants, in the vein of the Old Norse insult? Or about his long hair and predilection for showing his legs? Or about his vulnerability in the hands of William? McNulty connects the couple with Harold's weakness, noting the similar scenes that later accompany the Normans into battle (fig. 11); like these women, Harold will be taken by the Normans (McNulty 1989, 38). Lewis has preferred to see him exposed as a reptor -- both hunter and rapist (Lewis, 80-81). Multiple resonances work to denigrate the Anglo-Saxon leader, now dandy and fop, now sexual predator. Even the falcon that has become his attribute lends itself to obscene punning, as in the popular fabliaux, where a fau(x)con is a false cunt, or adulteress, the epitome of deception and instability. 70 Or, in the earlier satirical poem, Moriuht, even voracious desire for a wife, leading to nude coupling, is associated with the unseemly Other (Warner of Rouen, 86-87, 102-105). 71

Next, as they ride off together toward Duke William's palace, Harold takes the lead but apparently rides timidly, humiliated by his capture (Bernstein, Pl. XVI). 72 He is closely followed by the commanding figure of William, who now has the falcon and sits bolt upright even though he gives his aroused horse free reign. Does his horse have an interest in Harold's now female mount whose rump curves provocatively under its nose? There is a tradition for invoking such animal instincts: "Horse genitalia, both male and female, loom large in the obscene literature of Old Norse, and the pattern is presumably Germanic" (Clover, 74 n.52). References to men being taken from behind, as by a stallion, were fighting words. 73 Mares and geldings were considered fitting mounts for priests and women; Oderic Vitalis recounts that William Rufus on one occasion was so hard-pressed that he was prepared to make a fool of himself by borrowing a mare from a priest. 74

Immediately following is the meeting where the two leaders discuss the Aelfgyva episode (fig. 5). William is enthroned, his left hand supported on his sword which rests vertically on its point; he turns informally, his legs together, to point toward Harold and the woman with the cleric, a gesture that can mean telling or accusing. 75 Harold adopts the splay-legged stance we saw at his arrest, acknowledging William's pointing with an open palm, while also indicating the couple in question, as if agreeing. 76 He is oddly unstable and passive. 77

Figure 2.19a

Figure 2.19b

Next is a kind of appropriation of women's caretaking on the part of the Anglo-Saxon leader. Harold is campaigning with William when some of the soldiers are lost in the quicksands near Mont-Saint-Michel. Harold, on foot, rescues two of them, carrying one on his shoulders and pulling the other by the hand (fig. 19). 78 Their class reduces them to the size of children, causing Harold to appear more like a nanny than a Goliath; like Turold, he is belittled. Received by us as a valiant act, the more to be applauded because the officer is saving his enlisted men, nonetheless within the hierarchical gendered discourse of the Embroidery this should be viewed as another instance of Harold's feminine weakness, his willingness to assume the role of nurturer. 79 His strangeness is parodied below, where a centaur pulls on a chain of grotesque beasts, the last of which pulls a drowned man from the quicksands. 80 It is this weakness, his unmilitary caretaking, that will draw him into battle before he is ready. His difference is apparent even when he is campaigning with the Normans.


Figure 2.12

The leaders are seen together one more extended time, when William knights Harold (fig. 12) and then at Bayeux presides over his oath (fig. 20). In the first scene, the men are clad as equals, in chainmail and helmets, but their body language clearly states otherwise: William, facing to the right, pulls Harold's helmet into place (much as God crowns

Figure 2.20a

the Virgin in Christian iconography), and grasps him by the right arm, a sign of the relationship between lord and vassal. 81 As a certain sargeant major taught my brother in officer cadet training: "You call me sir, and I call you sir, but the difference is, you mean it."

Figure 2.20b

Duke William (I assume), on a chestnut stallion, leads Harold on a less virile mount to Bayeux, where the Duke is enthroned, in a long robe, his sword held erect, his feet firmly supported on the steps of his throne (fig. 20). He and his advisors point toward Harold at the right, reduced to his short Anglo-Saxon tunic, his legs planted wide as in the scenes of his arrest and his audience with William, his feet precariously balanced on an uneven terrain, his arms outstretched to touch two great reliquary shrines as if he is torn between them.

Figure 2.12

Indeed, below, two doves (or barnacle geese) hold a tree branch, symbolizing peace or salvation, but fox-like beasts that turn toward one another yet look over their shoulders may refer to duplicity. Harold is weak and unmanly in his last appearance with William before the Battle, spread-eagled like a fortress to be taken (figs. 12, 13, 14).

Figure 2.13a

Figure 2.13b

Figure 2.14a

Figure 2.14b


The Embroidery as a Political Vehicle for the Construction of Social Difference:

I began this study with the assumption that the nonpresence of women in (a representation of) war would be read as our exclusion from the (privileged) power structure that decided on war and its cessation, and from the possibility of being a hero. Others, however, might have read such nonpresence as female privilege; young men's lives are lost by violent death or disfiguration, while women and children are protected. 82 In either view, the oppressor is also the oppressed. The polarity that has been conventionally highlighted in the embroidered account of the invasion, that is the opposition of "Norman" and "English," could be vitiated in the same way; some readings have privileged signs of sympathy with the victors, others have noted English leanings. 83

In a deconstructive reading, the polarities of gender and ethnicity are neutralized, within the larger field that encompasses both the man-made catastrophe and the heroic victory that constitute war. 84 Using Derrida's "double reading," a second step can reintroduce nonpresence as a critical tool. For instance, in the face of the nonpresence of females and the land, the virility of the victorious men and their horses amounts to a sterility that deconstructs conquest and renders victory moot. We can hardly suppose Bishop Odo wished to teach his victorious cousin the sterility of a war from which both had derived so much benefit, but deconstruction reveals an unintentional fissure in the meaning of the work.

I propose a third step, which assumes that this imposing cycle, frequently placed in public view, did ideological work by praising and blaming the characters according to the morality of the victors, who ostensibly returned the English throne to its rightful ruler, and by realigning all that was Anglo-Saxon under Norman hegemony. Werckmeister in fact has already claimed the Embroidery "as a piece of political ideology, made up to serve the interests of a person and his social group" (589), though he overlooked the construction of difference between the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons. I argue that women in these new systems (of Norman victory and of bipolar masculinities) were not to be visible; their brief and sometimes confusing appearances cluster in the period of moral decline between Edward the Confessor's death and the preparations for the Battle of Hastings, on order to leave the stage to men.

In this system, male subjectivity is advanced at the expense of women, because only the nonpresence of "real" women (wives, sisters, daughters) can ensure the kind of male bonding that will keep men fighting; females appear in the margins as group fantasies, agreed symbols to maintain heterosexual identity. Denigrated as nude objects for possession (women of the night), or even as centaurs (night-mares), these nude women are variously pornographic or obscene (figs. 9, 11, 17). They fend off hyper-virile men, satyr-like inhabitants of the marginal realm of beasts and chimeras. On another level, both sexes may be understood as parodies of Harold; he is dual in nature, weak as a woman before William, yet indecorous when his short attire threatens to expose his genitals, especially when accompanied by bare-legged boys (fig. 15). He raises the threatening and dangerous possibility of homoeroticism, and so must be classified as enemy. William of Poitiers remarked that Harold was "sotted with luxury" and "infatuated with loot," and that his sister was morally superior to him (166-67). He and his followers are the "boors and blockheads" reviled by Norman prelates, with a faint whiff of indecency (Cook, 48: rudes et idiotas). They are reviled in the Embroidery in terms similar to the old Norse insults studied by Clover, much as modern soldiers (British at any rate) still deride each other and the enemy as stupid cunts and silly buggers. They are the "third sex" of the Bayeux Embroidery, disturbing "normal" gender polarities by forming a third point of reference that is opposed to both virile masculinity and to femininity, yet not simply aligned between them as effeminate male.

Thus, left alone without women, the images of men and beasts are reconfigured in gendered terms that construct polarities and maintain antagonisms. Anglo-Saxon men are constructed as Other, as if from a Norman point of view, confirming that this is the dominant point of view of the patron/makers. The first distinction is one of personal appearance, as noted above: There can be little doubt about the military prowess of short hair, at least for a modern audience; for a late eleventh-century audience, the distinction might have resonated with those made between Romans and barbarians in texts and images. 85 William of Poitiers, moreover, attests to an appreciation at the Norman court -- in fact at Duke William's Easter court in Rouen just a few months after the battle of Hastings -- for long-haired youths from the south of France whose beauty far exceeded that of young women (William of Poitiers, 260-61). Such florid praise of boyish beauty displaces any direct introduction of the topic of female attractiveness, just as in the embroidery these feminized Anglo-Saxon knights seem to drive out the depiction of real women (Morrison, 189). 86 Yet it important to note that the facial hair of the Anglo-Saxons means they are not pre-male youths, in Aristotle's and Ferrari's terms, but adult males who lack masculinity.

As if fulfilling Aristotle's ideals of men and women, the masculinity of the Normans is attested to in their control of language as well as warfare, whereas femininity leaves its silent trace in the fabric itself. It is the unsignaled collective act of the women weavers and stitchers that has made visible the actions of heroes, and named them in the language of male dominance, so that they can be remembered. Ong, whose work on the masculinism of Latinity was referred to in the last chapter, would not have been surprised to learn that I impute much of my initial aversion to Latin to the fact that in the English school system in the 1950s we had to prepare for the national "Ordinary Level" examinations by reading Caesar's Gallic Wars . Although I was not without emotional engagement with the fate of my brother's generation in Korea, I simply could not keep straight the terms for cohorts and divisions, foot soldiers and cavalry, sallies and ambushes. I survived (and learned enough to be admitted to Cambridge) only because our teacher brought us treats from outside the curriculum, such as the love poems of Catullus or medieval ghost stories, and because I could take private delight in excavating Boadaceia's "burning layer," the several inches of ashes that are the tangible sign of destruction wrought by a woman-at-arms on the Roman settlement in Verulamium (St. Albans); we young women scholars too had to "fight for our lives." Meanwhile, as young men went through puberty, they must have thrived on the male-bonding that reading Caesar's battle stories together effected (Ong, 131, 169). The British schoolboys who made their copy of the Bayeux Embroidery together in the nineteenth century might have felt the same solidarity.

It seems Caesar's text had also served militarism in eleventh-century Normandy. William of Poitiers, Norman chronicler of the deeds of William the Conqueror, makes frequent allusion to Caesar's campaigns. He boasts that William swept through the ranks of terrified Anglos and established his rule in Britain far more swiftly and certainly than Caesar had vanquished the Britons (William of Poitiers, 248-255). 87 He likens the conqueror to Titus, and the welcome given the returning victorious Duke in Rouen to that accorded by the Romans to Pompey (William of Portiers, 256-57). 88

Figure 2.7

Figure 2.9b

Figure 2.12

Consistent with this legacy, the inscriptions that are an integral part of the visual narrative in the Bayeux Embroidery are in a simple schoolboy Latin, not in the vernacular that was probably more familiar to the women who must have stitched the letters; declarative sentences name male figures, describe their actions, and locate them in specific built sites that are like chess pieces in a non-existent landscape (figs. 1, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14). The language is "neutral" in ethnic terms, being neither Anglo-Saxon English nor Norman French, but its traditional appearance in conjunction with ecclesiastic and secular power serves to identify the victor with these systems of might and right. As Ong noted, Latin was patris sermo or discourse of the father(land), as opposed to lingua materna. The possibility of describing these events in English is not even raised, as it would have been had French been the language of the tituli -- the sound of one hand clapping would have invoked the other in the imagination, but even as the embroidery was being hung in Bayeux, Norman rule in England forbade the use of the English language. 89 That it survived at all is probably due to an oral tradition that was uninterrupted in peasant families, and that was passed down from mothers and nannies in upper class society. 90 Whether it is true that the Anglo-Norman mother of one of Thomas Becket's murderers spoke English, as one account of ca. 1173 indicates, has been carefully scrutinized in a recent study, which points out that its use by the clergy is better documented. 91 The pre-conquest "Cotton Aelfric" Pentateuch from St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, had glosses added in the late twelfth century in a Kentish dialect, and in Latin. 92

The Masculinization of England after the Norman Conquest:

The language that the Normans hoped to stamp out in post-conquest England was less oppressive for women than the French they introduced. As pointed out in the last chapter, among other examples of symmetrical terms for men and women, the ungendered pronoun "a" might be the envy of modern feminists who trip over s/he and thon. Unfortunately, shortly after the Norman conquest "she" came into use to sharpen gender distinction, and "a" virtually disappeared later. Properly understood, and not confused with "'e" as it was in the following exchange, "a" preempts ascribing "feminine" behaviors and characteristics to females. 93 As recently as 1958, an old Dorset farm hand, explaining his limp to my mother, concluded: "Arrr ... a were a fierce cow, a were!" My mother queried: "Oh, it was a bull that injured you?" To which he replied emphatically: "Noaou! A were a cow, a were." If a cow does not have to be designated as a female animal, it can be as fierce as it likes. More complex cases of linguistic fluidity in respect to gender boundaries were noticed in old Norse by Clover (61-63).

Assessments of the actual standing of women on either side of the conquest have proved inconclusive. Many historians, especially those who have contributed to the women's history project, have lamented the gaps in both primary and secondary sources for English history (e.g., Dietrich, 32; Rosenthal, 1992; Stafford, 1983, 1-2; Thompson, 7-15). Such gaps result in the exclusion or marginalization of women and of other inferior groups in written histories. Revisionists, in concert with the literary critics such as Landy, referred to below, came to the realization that all but a few medieval women had been complicit with a system of male domination, and thus had no separate "voice" in historical accounts (Casey, 1976, 225, 245-46). In perpetuating "the stereotypes and attitudes which are a mirror of prevailing fantasies and conscious social norms" all histories do ideological work (Landy, 17).

Most older scholars, however, agreed that other far-reaching changes in women's status occurred in England within a few years of the Norman conquest. They enlisted arguments such as that Nordic cultures had been known since pre-Roman times for the high status accorded to women. Anglo-Saxon women might be said to have shared much of that legacy, wielding power in both the secular sphere and in ecclesiastic hierarchies. Clover's theoretical discussion of the traditional view that pre-Christian Scandinavian women had been unusually "'exceptional' . . . 'strong' or 'independent'" is synopsized below (Clover, 64); her argument that such judgments are made from a modern assumption about normal gender roles underlines how different the sex-gender system of that pre-existing culture was. Yet it also serves to highlight the absence of women from the Bayeux Embroidery.

Another strategy can be invoked to test the view that women in England lost much of their privilege under Norman rule: We can consider the deeds --or rather the images of them -- of several women associated in some way with the men portrayed in the Embroidery. One is Harold's sister-in-law, Judith, Countess of Flanders in her own right (1032-1094), who is represented in one of the four gospelbooks she eventually gave to Weingarten Abbey in Germany; veiled and in an elegant long-sleeved gown, she clasps the foot of the cross at the Crucifixion. 94 The unmistakably Anglo-Saxon character of script and illumination suggests Judith had these Gospels made in England during her marriage to Harold's estranged brother, Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria (1051-1066), or immediately after she was widowed (Tostig died in battle against Harold just before Hastings). 95 Judith appears to be the sole instigator of the commission, and the books are very likely to have been made for her private chapel. 96 The image not only attests to the autonomy of a secular woman as patron, but it also makes the claim that married women belonged with the class that prayed (i.e., the clergy), rather than with their husbands (and sons) who fought and ruled. By a reverse association, Harold's prayers before he embarked on his mission for Edward the Confessor might have appeared effeminate; even the high-ranking churchmen in the Bayeux Embroidery give up prayer to attend their secular rulers, and Bishop Odo carries a mace, the same weapon that William took into battle (Bachrach, 17, who notes it was against the law for churchmen to take up arms).

Cnut's partners, the two Aelfgyvas, exercised considerably more power than we might infer from the description of Aelfgyva Emma, consort of two kings, cited in the chapter heading (Stafford 1983, 3-4, 40, 48-49, 72, 157-58, 162,166, 170). Both had rights to dower lands and treasure; the sovereignty of one of them in Winchester is attested to when she is represented on the dexter side of the cross that she and King Cnut presented to New Minster. 97 Such gifts can help to situate upper class women in relation to the control of resources and ultimately of ideologies, but the written sources are not always reliable in recording the woman's role. For instance, when the Abingdon Chronicle documents a royal gift to that Abbey of a reliquary, it is described as having been commissioned by King Cnut; yet the chronicler goes on to record the inscription engraved on it which clearly states that "King Cnut together with Queen Aelfgyva ordered this reliquary to be made" (emphasis mine). His own account is a blatant case of the silencing of women. 98

As with the Aelfgyva of the Bayeux Embroidery, the identification of the queen in these cases is complicated by the fact that Cnut had two wives of the same name. The mistress or common-law wife who (claimed she) bore him two sons was known as Aelfgyva of Northumbria, whereas Aelfgyva-Emma was sister to the Duke of Normandy and widow of Cnut's predecessor on the English throne, Eethelred II, whom she had married in 1017. Since Cnut encouraged his first wife to rule in the north after this marriage, and in 1030 sent her to rule in Norway as their son's regent, it is possible they made joint gifts o churches. The more likely case, though, is that the reliquary of Abingdon, and the cross being presented to New Minster in the Liber vitae, were joint gifts with Queen Emma who resided in Winchester. But the date of 1031 that appears elsewhere in the manuscript is now accepted as that of its facture; in that year Aelfgyva of Northumbria was already serving as regent in Norway, and Cnut traveled to Rome as well as campaigning successfully in Scotland; it is thus possible that Emma gave it in his absence when she had control of the treasury. Most significant is the fact that rights in Winchester (and Exeter) were dowered to her for life by her marriage to Ethelred; thus when Cnut was in either town, he was in his wife's domain and would correctly be represented on the sinister side, as we see him in the drawing. 99 Evidently, Emma brought in her own administrators to these towns, in that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle blamed a Frenchman appointed by her as reeve for the fall of Exeter in 1030 (A-S Chronicle, 134-35). It was to Winchester that the queen withdrew on Cnut's death in 1035, attempting to hold the royal treasure as well, and she returned to residence there after her son Edward ascended the throne and took a wife (Stafford 1983, 105, 110). 100

Aelfgyva Emma earned a reputation as a major donor in other spheres. She made gifts of two richly woven altar cloths, of purple and green with bands of gold, and coverings of silk, set with gold and gems, for the tombs of the saints to the Abbey Church of Ely. 101 And she acquired relics which she gave to several English foundations (Heslop, 185-87). In Anglo-Saxon England wives evidently administered their own property independently of their husbands, and were consequently acknowledged as great benefactors of churches. 102 On the other hand, it has also to be acknowledged that Duke William's consort, Matilda, had considerable autonomy in making gifts; she also witnessed deeds and could do justice as his regent. 103 It is the more surprising that she is not imaged with him in Caen in the Embroidery.

Figure 2.10

The high esteem that Aelfgyva Emma claimed for herself is indicated by the image of her, enthroned alone, receiving from a monk of Saint-Omer a copy of the biography, she had commissioned about 1040, the Encomium Emmae Reginae (fig. 10). 104 This pictorial configuration had a prestigious history in the Empire, in the presentation pages of Imperial manuscripts. 105 Yet the fact that these earlier Imperial recipients of books were always male is an indication of the power appropriated by the queen mother in this commission. The text serves the dynastic interests of Emma's son by Cnut, by making no mention of her previous marriage to Ethelred, as if in respect for her marriage agreement to support Cnut's heirs' rights over those of her prior sons by Ethelred, Alfred, and Edward (although Edward may be one of the sons portrayed here).

Figure 2.5a

It also questions the legitimacy of Cnut's sons by Aelfgyva of Northumbria in order to further the claim of Emma's son Harthacnut. 106 The generic image of the slandered Aelfgyva in the Bayeux Embroidery appears like the counter-image of this dignified Anglo-Saxon "Lady Dowager" (fig. 5); it is ironic that we can not be sure whether it represents her rival or herself because she was tainted by Edward's charges of unchastity. Whatever the intended identity of the Aelfgyva in the embroidery, a contemporary reader would likely think of the recent queen-mother. 107 A famous woman was thus defamed, and later historians reviled her for her supposed abandonment of her sons by Cnut's predecessor, finding her unnatural in her lack of motherly love (Stafford 1983, 210). 108


Queens were not the only women living under Cnut's rule who could inherit and administer estates. Several of his edicts ameliorated the condition of less elevated women, forbidding their sale in marriage, for instance, and instead requiring their free consent (Doris Stenton, 20-28). In the 1950s, this optimistic view of Anglo-Saxon women seems to have been generally agreed upon by the few women historians concerned with the question (e.g., Whitelock, 94). Yet this idyllic picture has been modified through closer study. One scholar has emphasized that "Cnut's code shows a concern for women's rights coupled with a harshness towards their sexual transgressions," concluding that their lot was improved only in one or two respects during the long period of Anglo-Saxon autonomy, and that it changed relatively little under the Normans (Klinck, 111,119).

The older assumption had been that the status of women was negatively affected by primogeniture and by the militarism of Norman culture; as one scholar phrased it, "The feudal world was essentially a masculine world. Its society was organized for war in which women were expected to take no part. In this lies the essential difference between the Anglo-Saxon and the Anglo-Norman outlook" (Doris Stenton, 29). Male dominance, it was claimed, also increased in the home (Doris Stenton, 30). These generalizations cannot fit every case, and it is to the credit of Clark and Williams that they have also emphasized the role of some Norman women in riding among the knights or commanding castles in time of siege (Fell, Clark & Williams, 170). The extent that military obligations formed the background to Norman transactions, even with the church, has been confirmed independently of their impact in England. 109 Military obligations compromised an heiress's ability to hold land, and if a widow remarried, all her lands, including dower from her previous marriage, went to her husband (Fell, Clark & Williams, 149). 110 Such a pattern would have benefited the Normans who married widows in their new land. One eminent male historian took the extraordinary view that "These ladies of the dark ages have some remarkable religious and literary achievements to their credit, but their period of splendid independence did not last long. As society became better organized and ecclesiastically more right-minded, the necessity for male dominance began to assert itself." 111

Yet a revisionist who has questioned whether the Normans brought "feudalism" to England holds the view that "there is not much evidence that the conquest changed fundamental ideas about the rights and obligations of property in England very much." 112 And a study of the perpetual tenure of land charters within England has led the author to question whether there was "really a significant break in the continuity of the legal position or status of women from Anglo-Saxon to Anglo-Norman times?" (Meyer, 70). Another contributor to the same collection suggests women in England after 1066 did no worse and no better than those elsewhere in Europe (Casey, 131), whereas a study of the legal system leads to the claim that there were actually some improvements in women's rights to inherit land in the twelfth century (Kittel, 131). Despite these conclusions, Doris Stenton's followers reaffirmed a loss in status and "role flexibility" to women after the Conquest (Dietrich, 32-33, 36, 41, and further references: 44-45, nn. 3 & 7). Searle agreed in part, noting that Norman customary law as it was codified in the thirteenth century definitively excluded women from inheriting lands if they had brothers (whereas in eleventh-century Normandy one woman was singled out above her brothers), yet she resisted the idea of a "loss of freedom that the Norman Conquest brought to women in England" (Searle, 174-75, cf. 170-71). It may be that legal documents are not a sensitive enough index to the quality of life. We have to look elsewhere in the culture to further the discussion of the status of women before and after the Conquest. 113

Rosenthal attempted a neutral summary of the information from Anglo-Saxon law codes and charters, noting it is tempered by the immense silences in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, of the kind illustrated in the chapter heading. In many narratives he uncovered gynephobia, noting it is perhaps more accentuated in treating powerful secular women, who no doubt instilled fear, than in recounting the good deeds of female religious, or in allowing a role to dedicated mothers in the education of their children. He has presented a broader view than the other scholars reported on above, yet it does not encompass pictorial representations, nor a consideration of vernacular linguistic use. We are left with conflicting views of women's "real" status that vary according to the kinds of sources privileged as "evidence."

McNamara has contributed a more thought-provoking study that historicizes the "restructuring of the gender system, 1050-1150." Drawing on a wide range of source materials to constitute a social history, she suggests that this period saw "a masculine identity crisis" or "Herrenfrage (McNamara, 3). An increasing number of celibate men did not prove their sexual identity, leaving the same number of women in a similar condition, with the added risk that they lacked male domination (5). There was "growing anxiety about female potency and male impotence" in the twelfth century, including a fear of men dressing in effeminate ways (9). As a consequence, "men doomed themselves to support a construction of masculinity that defined them as those who fight, who dominate" (22). In other words, these anxieties and changes were effected throughout northern Europe between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In the case of England, the Norman conquest and the masculinization of the country can be seen merely as a dramatic instance of general trends.

A recent critique of the older view, which terms it a nostalgic construction of a Golden Age for Anglo-Saxon women, attempts some useful house-cleaning (Stafford 1994). Apparently taking a New Historicist position at the outset, Stafford gives a revealing history of the concept of change at the Norman conquest, indicating the relevance of the invention by Tacitus of powerful but chaste Germanic women, and the symbiotic relationship between "Golden Age" concepts and investment in women's' rights on the part of a series of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers (Stafford 1994, 221-228). She then questions the terms of inquiry: Can one speak of women as a collective? How does one measure status? Yet her remedy, instead of no "history" at all (let's stop arguing over the few facts we have), proposes deeper factual and contextual study, and without telling us her own ideological base, she proceeds to construct a new narrative. Only at the last does she suggest a re-reading of the chronicles to elucidate "the way eleventh- and twelfth-century chroniclers themselves talked about women and the Norman Conquest." 114 What she finds is acute "gender anxiety." This paradigm shift toward the representational rather than the truth-value of the sources is the most valuable part of this long essay (Stafford 1994, 246-249).

Indeed, following Theweleit's and Jeffords' strategy, I prefer to analyze representations in writings and in images than to try to argue a case for historical truth. Thus, the Biblical and hagiographical women who were revered in the Anglo-Saxon period may tell an important tale. Strong widows had a role model in the Biblical Judith, whose patriotism led her to decapitate a king. As noted above, the legends of such heroines were celebrated in Anglo-Saxon poems. In that version, Judith is sacralized as a virgin to enhance her valiant nature. 115 This poem was probably written for, or even about, the Mercian queen, Aethelflaed, who led her warriors into battle and received the spoils of war (Stafford 1983, 26). Such warlike women had also been celebrated in pre-Christian nordic legends (Clover, 64). 116 Yet what had changed, initially, was not that there were no armed Norman women; rather, their heroic deeds are told in uncertain male voices that transmit fear and anxiety (Fell, Clark & Williams, 170, cf. Stafford, 1994, 227, 247-248). The Chançons de Gestes did not produce role-models of the kind that the Anglo-Saxon Judith had. Thus, even the boldest of later twelfth- and thirteenth-century women, Eleanor of Aquitaine, pales beside these earlier examples; though as heiress of the Duchy of Aquitaine she acted with some autonomy, she merely accompanied crusaders on their way to the Holy Land.

A number of Anglo-Saxon female saints and holy women were highly regarded in England before the Conquest, and foreign cults were introduced. The feast of St. Anne's Conception of Mary, commemorating a sacred matriliny, was introduced in 1030, but it temporarily disappeared under the Normans, only to be revived before mid-twelfth century. 117 The cult of the Virgin, also strong in Anglo-Saxon England, survived the Conquest, but was sometimes relocated; for instance, the Saxon Cathedral at Canterbury had an altar of Our Lady in the western apse, where the bishop's throne was situated, facing the altar of Christ in the eastern apse. Although two chapels were dedicated to the Virgin in the Norman church, they were less well positioned, being relegated to the east end of the north nave aisle, and the crypt (Cook, 48-49, 87).

When Queen Aelforyo, King Edgar's wife, addressed the Virgin Mary as "generous protector and gracious advocate," she used feminine forms of these appellates, as if she was familiar with them in secular usage (Fell, Clark & Williams, 104-105). Virgin rulers were also highly esteemed in the church. Anglo-Saxon England had many strong abbesses who held great prestige with the bishops. The benedictional of St. Ethewold, made in Winchester between 963 and 984, attests to his reverence for a seventh-century abbess, St. Etheldreda of Ely, who is represented in a full-page illumination. There is also a group of crowned female virgin saints forming a choir, and several pages in the Infancy of Christ cycle give prominence to the Virgin and other Marys, including the earliest representation in English art of the Dormition of the Virgin. The Nativity of the Christ Child is paralleled by a Birth of John the Baptist, and originally by a Birth of the Virgin, now lost. 118 Another Dormition of the Virgin, in which she is attended only by weeping women instead of the disciples as in later examples, is in a benedictional and pontifical also made for Ethelwold, about 980; it belonged later to an Archbishop Robert, most likely Emma's brother, prelate of Rouen (990-1037). 119

Such cults may represent nostalgia for an earlier time in England, rather than informing us of the actual status of women in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Ladies of high rank often served as Abbesses in the double monasteries that had burgeoned in the seventh century, such as those at Whitby, Minster in Sheppey, and Wimbourne. The founder of Whitby, Abbess Hild, presided over the monastery when, according to Bede, five future bishops were educated in it (Doris Stenton, 13). The loss of its library during Viking raids is the more to be regretted (Fell, Clark & Williams, 126). Boniface sent for Leoba, who had written to him from Wimborne, to head a monastery he founded in Germany (Doris Stenton,14-16). Thus insular women as well as men became known on the continent as educators and spiritual leaders. Their fame would later contribute to a view of England as feminized.

The Normans radically altered the legacy of the early English church, in part by masculinizing its institutions. Their impact on ecclesiastic organization, and the increased scale of the new churches they built, has been emphasized by several authors. 120 The diocesan system was revised, several cathedrals being relocated to more urban settings, and some in proximity to castles.

Figure 2.13a

Figure 2.13b

This a symbiosis of ecclesiastic and secular power, as seen in Old Sarum where cathedral and keep were within a single moat, recalling the image of Bishop Odo and Duke William seated in a single pavilion on the eve of the Battle of Hastings (fig. 13). 121 The overall impression of Norman building programs is one of tight, rational control; the same is true of administrative structures concerning land tenure and taxes, as recorded in Domesday Book. Both were matched by internal revisions in the bishoprics; Archbishop Thomas of York, formally treasurer of Bayeux Cathedral, is credited with the introduction of the Norman structure of a dean and chapter, and in fact, canons were installed in several sees, replacing monks.


Monastic reform, which also spread largely by way of Normandy, probably broke up some arrangements whereby houses for men had sponsored communities of women and give religious women a measure of equality. Certainly few independent houses for women survived the Conquest (McNamara, 13). The fate of double monasteries was not clearly documented: Some nuns were relocated in their own priories, which remained dependent, and some men seem to have left houses of women, but the diminished status of women presupposes a greater dependence on men for administration in addition to the normal need for the sacraments (Thompson, 54-79). The scarcity of written documents concerning the women's houses attests perhaps to their greater vulnerability because of a lack of resources to preserve them (Thompson, 7-15). Many slid into oblivion through neglect, and the many new foundations of the twelfth century that accomodated nuns were poorly endowed. 122 But the changes did not prevent a very determined English girl, Christina of Markyate, from becoming an anchorite in the early years of the twelfth century, and later founding a priory under the protection of the men's house at St. Alban's. Her biography is an extraordinary record of her spiritual progress, not outshone by any contemporary treatment of a man's life, and the Abbot who supported her was a Frenchman. 123

Much more stark are the differences registered in visual representations of women on either side of the Conquest. The famous pictorial Hexateuch with Anglo-Saxon summary translation known as the Cotton Aelfric is often compared with the Bayeux Embroidery to make the case for English designers. Its lively graphic renditions of figures and settings provide the kind of models that could be recombined into a newly invented iconography of recent events. Taking a longer view, the Cotton Aelfric, made in Canterbury about 1025-50, is an index against which to measure changes that had solidified by the twelfth or thirteenth century. 124 Representations of family and lineage, and of the fate of Lot's wife, reward feminist scrutiny. 125

Early in the sequence, Adam and Eve are together instructed in survival skills by the angel of the play of Adam (f. 7v); most unusually, Eve has an agricultural tool to work alongside Adam in the fields, instead of the spindle mentioned above.

Figure 2.4

Several pages in Genesis depict matriarchs alongside the patriarchs of the genealogical sequence; couples (or, as needed, more than one wife) are surrounded by their children, and in most instances the mourning widow accompanies her husband's bier; the sequence with Cainan has already been noticed (fig. 4). Earlier, when Cain went into the land of Nod and built the city of Enoch (named for his son), the boy is shown between his parents, his mother standing commandingly in domestic space (fig. 21). 126

Figure 2.21

In the next register, each monogamous couple has a son, Mehujael, Methusael, and Lamech. Mother and father share low-backed seating arrangements. Lamech's mother even takes center stage, and holds a fruit branch. The post-Conquest commentator in Latin (below) notes that Lamech introduced bigamy, against natural law, whereas in God's first creation one wife was sanctioned for one man.


Figure 2.22

In the late twelfth-century genealogical program of the clerestory windows of Canterbury Cathedral, created for the rebuilt Benedictine church after monastic reform and the Conquest, wives and mothers are left out in favor of a "pure" patriarchy (fig. 22). 127 Since I have demonstrated that the Cotton Aelfric was the pictorial model for the window designers, the exclusion is the more poignant. Female generation is appropriated by men, who thus appear entirely self-sufficient. The chain of circumstances needed for male bonding is initiated, in representation as in the actuality of monastic life, by the exclusion of mothers. The commentator's worrying over "unnatural" secular unions with more than one woman are part of the same attitude. To a contemporary secular audience the exclusively male genealogy would have naturalized inheritance customs that privileged primogeniture. The representation does ideological work.


Figure 2.23

Another dramatic index of changing attitudes is provided by representations of Lot fleeing from the destruction of Sodom with his wife and daughters. In the Cotton Aelfric manuscript, two tall angels guide the family, holding the hands of Lot and of his wife to help prevent them from infringing on the command not to look back (fig. 23). Such protective angels are rarely included in this scene, and only one reappears in the narrative cycle painted by the English illuminator W. de Brailes about mid-thirteenth century; predictably, it holds Lot's head so that he cannot turn back, leaving Lot's wife to her own devices (fig. 24).

Figure 2.24

The parity of men and women in the household is also manifested in the famous scene in the Cotton Aelfric in which an angel instructs Adam and Eve, both with agricultural tools, in the art of land cultivation. 128


The pictorial style of the Cotton Aelfric and other Anglo-Saxon manuscripts of the eleventh-century, used in comparison with the Bayeux Embroidery, also provides a very fine-tuned index of change. As noted above, spacious rolling landscapes in these earlier books give way in the Embroidery to forts and palaces that function like chess pieces, while isolated trees punctuating the campaigns are a metonymy for ducal estates and royal hunting forests. The figure style, though clearly based on Anglo-Saxon models, is rendered with a harder contour and more geometric or abstract ordering (cf. figs. 1. 2 etc. and 4, 21, 23). It has been debated to what extent this is a result of the embroidery technique; fluttering draperies might have been hard to render in stitches (though not impossible); in fact there are a number of choices that accentuate these effects, such as the ubiquitous use of a dark contour, and arbitrary changes of color (as in the far legs of horses, and their genitalia). The Anglo-Saxon draughtsman's world has been ordered and inventoried, much as it was in other aspects of Norman administration. It is ironic that the ultimate step was taken by the women embroiderers.

To sum up my interpretive strategy, the coherence of Jeffords' model of masculinization depends on its declared use of representations. In those terms, all narrative cycles, not just the Embroidery, can be enlisted to gauge the process. In referring to her model, the obvious differences in the circumstances of the two wars need not concern us, except to clarify that the Anglo-Saxon needed to be remasculinized in order to overcome the stigma of defeat which was in collusion with a patriarchal Norman program of military conquest and administrative reorganization. In the Bayeux Embroidery, the masculinity of the Normans is attested to in their control of language as well as warfare, whereas femininity leaves its silent trace in the fabric itself. It is the unsignaled collective act of the women weavers and stitchers that made visible the actions of heroes, and named them in the language of male dominance, so that they can be remembered, whether they were victors or vanquished. The exclusion of women from this discourse of reconstruction had consequences for a long time to come.

So too did the negative connotations heaped on the "third sex" in representation; we have seen for instance that the clergy continued to rail against long hair in men long into the next century. And many writers in the twelfth century derived from Galen the concept of an anatomical third sex, an hermaphrodite "provided with both sexes" from birth, that could live as a man or a woman "depending on the development of the sexual qualities;" unless it espoused a consistent gender role and sexual orientation, the hermaphrodite could threaten the social order (Nederman & True). In the Bayeux Embroidery, this imaginary third sex neither challenged the first position given to "real men" in the hierarchy, nor did it challenge the binary system, since it merely displaced women. However, it kept alive homophobia as a point of agreement between "those who fight" and "those who pray." Like the castles that were twinned with the monastic cathedrals of Durham and Sarum, a bipolar gender system protected the interests of knights and bishops. As Searle put it, "Abbots . . .prayed to the Normans' God for the salvation of the warriors" (Searle, 229). The unspecified sin of the Sodomites, for which their city was destroyed, was soon after designated as homosexuality. 129

Theoretical Frameworks

My analysis of the pictorial discourse of the Bayeux Embroidery followed three avenues sequentially, each of them suggested by concepts developed in fields other than medieval studies, and each broadened by further reading. Since the (non)representation of women was my initial concern, the first topic for study was absense. Nonpresence can then be deconstructed so that it ellucidates what is represented, in this case to see how women are displaced; absense becomes constitutive. By virtually eliminating the heterosexual binary m/f, a new binary was created within masculinity, defining another "Other." This observation was strengthened by a very fruitful excursion into various notions concerning a "third sex," and a number of case studies focussing of different historical moments. In order to gain a purchase on presence as structured by nonpresence, I sought studies that pay attention to what it is that replaces women's roles, particularly militarism and masculinities.

Accounting for Absense

Exclusion has not been singled out for theoretical formulation to the extent that gender formation has. Yet a number of writings can assist us in pondering the implications of the frequent exclusion -- or very selective inclusion -- of women. Some, with a claim to universality, have probed factors that led men to choose to exclude women. Others consider the discursive practices that supported such claims. Many contribute to the general frame of revisionist history, including attempts to reconstruct lost histories or to construct female subjectivities, as I did in the last chapter. Some also examine the consequences of exclusions for the formation of male subjects.

A distinction to be noted in these writings is whether they argue from immediate "historical causes," or from totalizing theories. By historical causes I mean explanations offered from something like a normalized tradition prior to the event or work in question, or from belief systems within its immediate context. Totalizing causes are linked to teleologies that claim universality, and may be argued (for instance) from psychological factors or hegemonies of commodity exchange, as in Freudian, Lacanian, or Marxist systems. Critiques of these teleologies have led to the destabilization of truth claims in a variety of discourses. Throughout this book, however, I contend that these genres are not mutually exclusive -- none is privileged as verity.

Psychoanalytic teleologies have provided important points of departure for feminists concerned with absense. Lacanian concepts provided the springboard for an important group of European feminist writers. Modifying Freud's theory of Pre-Oedipal development, outlined below, Lacan preferred the more nebulous signifier of the phallus to describe the mother's lack; but he was essentialist, in that he claimed women's irrevocable exclusion from the hegemony of language. 130 Sweeping claims were made by the "New French Feminists" concerning women's exclusions; according to their editors, they contend "that only one sex has been represented, that the projection of male libidinal economy in all patriarchal systems -- language, capitalism, socialism, monotheism -- has been total; women have been absent." 131 If they end there, such universal claims do little to advance our understanding of absense, and it is not surprising that this kind of "complaining feminism" was eventually abandoned.

A far more satisfactory theory of female exclusion, called into play in recent feminist writing, stems from the psychoanalytic concept of object relations. Object relations theory is ultimately based on Freud's notion of gender formation, which stressed the child's new awareness of sexual difference in the Oedipal phase, and his postulate that the mother is rejected, by male and female child alike, because of her lack of a penis. 132 Because it is based in genital difference, Freud's theory is essentialist, just as are all the prior formulations of women as imperfect men that were reiterated in medical discourse from Aristotle and Galen on (Miles, 159-60). Object relations theory on the other hand, as proposed by feminist psychologists and psychoanalysts such as Chodorow, suggests that it is largely female caretaking of the child (i.e., the mother's gendered role rather than her sexual difference) that arouses ambivalent feelings in her charges, who have to learn to separate from her. As soon as the concept of gender construction enters into the equation, difference is de-essentialized; the logical assumption is that changed child-care arrangements would change the process of identity formation. 133 But in Western society the norm for the male child was to be increasingly socialized to combat feminity, and to be left with the unsatisfactory options of rejection, idealization or vilification of the (m)other (Di Stefano, 13-17).

A political theorist, Di Stefano, has offered one of the clearest expositions of object relations theory, with the added significance that her use of it refuses traditional distinctions between private life and public thought and action (Di Stefano, 32-55). 134 She used it with dramatic effect in readings of Karl Marx, Thomas Hobbes, and J. S. Mill that elucidate what is almost imperceptible in their writings: where their theories of power and oppression fail in relation to women. Object relations theory has also empowered a recent study of obscenity by Caputi; she found a connection between gynephobia and an urge to define the female body as pornographic or obscene when it is regarded as "challenging the limits of culture." 135 This frame is relevant to the lewd nudes embroidered in the margins of the Bayeux Embroidery, male as well as female, providing precisely this view of Anglo-Saxons, as we have seen.

Another deconstructive strategy applied to Freud's theory of difference has placed it firmly within the very issues it attempts to explain. Thus, it is possible that his entire intellectual construct was a means of covering over, rather than elucidating, the "real' source of his (male) anxiety. Sprengnether, for instance, has examined Freud's "defensive strategies" against the preoedipal mother, including repression of feminity, and "an alternating presence and absence" of her in his texts. 136 Thus Freudian theory cannot serve to naturalize the account of the conquest in the Bayeux Embroidery; rather, both belong to a discourse of masculinity that resisted the feminine. A similar conclusion was reached by an anthropologist in relation to fraternity initiation rites; although Freudian and Lacanian notions of castration anxiety, incest taboo and the Law of the Father can "explain" these rituals, it is not necessary to invoke universals; Sanday prefers to regard this "social expression of the oedipal dynamic" as "a social manifestation of the ideology necessary to legitimize male social dominance" (Sanday, 176-180).

Marxist theory has had at least as much impact on late twentieth-century discourses as have Freudian concepts, and it continues to stimulate feminist critique. Yet the Marxist account of society was also deconstructed by Di Stefano. It is well-known that Marx excluded women's work from materialist theories of production and commodity exchange. 137 This might come as no surprise since a long tradition of Roman and medieval representations of the "labors of the months" had also excluded women's domestic work, and largely ignored their presence in agriculture; in addition, capitalist economists exclude child raising and home making from their calculations. Di Stefano's analysis of Marx, by invoking a theory of human behavior that claims a fundamental tie to long-standing social structures (if not universality), was able to bypass the historical moment of the formation of modernism. She thus "explained" the link with a long historical tradition without merely restating it in terms of a polarity of tradition and innovation.

Feminists film critics of the 1980's barely questioned essentialist bases for women's exclusion. Gledhill, for instance, represented a widely-held view when she decried male initiatives that caused women to be "culturally located outside history," and pointed out the corollary, that they are "placed in an idealist sphere of nature and eternal values" (Gledhill, 23). The last claim can be misleading, and each case has to be subjected to ideology critique -- "ad quadratum" as I suggested in the Introduction. Modern critics might fall into the trap prepared by medieval theologians, by enlisting such notions to describe the care-taking aspects of a mourner at the deathbed of King Edward the Confessor and of a mother or nurse who leads her boy to safety in the Bayeux Embroidery. Yet in so doing, we would enhance the value of their actions beyond what is sustainable from the sequence of images, where in fact recuperation occurs. Indeed, mourning the dead and praying for the souls of the departed was naturalized as a function of women, and reinforced by stereotyped images of the Virgin and Mary Magdalen. 138 So, too, the flight with a boy-child has a precedent in the flight of the Virgin and Child into Egypt. Yet, in the Embroidery these unnamed women are rendered so insignificant that we have an important glimpse of the ways in which such legends sustained oppression: 139 As Kaplan has argued, women's care-taking roles, even when they are in answer to the needs of war, prevent them from participating in mainstream history and actually support "patriarchal militarism."

Feminists had to learn to pass over complaints of misogyny, in order to examine its inner workings as a hegemonic system. Landy was among the first to articulate -- nearly twenty years ago -- some of the spaces in which a feminist critique could come into play in examining "misogynist" literature. In this sense, she found positive value in the poetry of Milton, who "succeeded in weaving together a magnificent edifice of classical and Christian mythology which legitimizes male supremacy." Thus, she suggested, we can study "the ways in which he portrays power" to arrive at "a more specific understanding of the nature of historical exclusion of women from great affairs and high art as well as the nature of linguistic power which has created, perpetuated and reinforced the situation." She alludes briefly to "male fears about women's power" but is content to describe them merely as "deeply imbedded in the myths" of Western culture.

Landy concluded that most women participating in the making of art (before feminism) have colluded with the dominant male view of them. They have either "accepted the male images as their own or have created accommodations satisfactory to them within the given power structure -- a Virgin Queen, an Amazon, a Wielder of Power over Children and Lovesick Men -- or women have agreed to see themselves as witches, demons, and deceivers. The consequences of straying from legitimized social norms were obviously too costly to entertain -- deprivation of God, of man, of sociability, of economic sustenance, of biological needs" (Landy, 27). The more so, in medieval works "artistic freedom" scarcely ever exists, bounded as it was by agreements between patrons, designers, and craftspeople; the latter group are unlikely to attempt subversion of the hegemonies by which they lived. Thus it is unlikely we will find the needle-women of the Bayeux Embroidery giving voice to the women they represented, such as might elicit tensions between the stereotyping of their behaviors and covert desires to act differently.

Foucault's critique of discourse, and Derrida's principles of deconstruction, also provide important bases for revisionist histories that do more than simply add women within pre-existing paradigms. A theoretical paper by Biesecker, which takes a critique of some revisionist histories of rhetoric as its point of departure, suggests a frame for understanding exclusions and silencing in discursive practices. 140 She teases out the unquestioned assumptions that lie behind canon change (a tokenism she refers to as "the affirmative action approach" and which I have come to think of as "add women and stir"). These often include the very "tropology of the psyche that writes presence as consciousness, [such that] self-presence [is] conceived within the opposition of consciousness to unconsciousness" (Biesecker, 158-59). This is to accept the "ideology of individualism that monumentalizes some acts and trivializes others." Claims for individual contributions, as opposed to collective practices, have dominated canon formation, and they have served to obfuscate "those structures of oppression larger than individual consciousness and will." This critique serves to highlight the fact that all the attention traditional scholarship had focussed on the enigmatic Aelfgyva of the Bayeux Embroidery was exclusively invested in such notions of self-presence, individuality, and agency. It required a paradigm shift to focus on collectivity instead, which turned out attention to the general slur on Anglo-Saxon women (and their sexual partners), and to the agency of the needle-women.

This brings us to another consideration, the problematic subjectivity of women. As Miles noted, omission of women's voices prevents their formation as subjects, and is thus as significant a dimension of absence as a mere lack of representation (Miles, 4-12). Indeed, the few representations of women in the Bayeux Embroidery were revealed to operate without subjectivity in support of patriarchy, as objects of exchange in that economy. Other instances indicate that it is not only in relation to war as "men's business" that women have been deprived of a voice. The fourteenth- and fifteenth-century history of the beguines is known largely through the polemical treatises against them rather than through their own words, and this clearly made it easier to sustain charges of heresy against them; being without a voice is a precarious condition. 141 Thus it became necessary in the last section of this chapter to look for the specific repercussions of exclusion, marginalization and silence on the plight of women in England after the conquest.

Nonpresence as a Structuring Term of Presence

In a recent discussion of Derrida's writings about deconstruction, Nealon has emphasized his insistence on "double reading:" first is the "overturning gesture," that neutralizes opposites, and "points . . . to the inability of the privileged term in the opposition to structure itself (in its presence) except with reference to the nonprivileged term (in its absence)---leaving nonpresence as a structuring principle of presence and calling into question the privilege of the master term over the subservient one." Next comes the "crucial operation of Derrida's thought: the wholesale displacement of the systematics of binary opposition and the reinscription of the opposition within a larger field--a 'textual' field that can account for nonpresence as other than lack of presence." Only this second step validates Derrida's own claim that "deconstruction will provide itself the means with which to intervene in the field of opposition that it criticizes, which is also a field of non-discursive forces" (Derrida, 329). 142 Foucault wrote in a similar vein of omissions: "Silence .. . functions alongside the things said, with them and in relation to them within overall strategies. There is no binary division to be made between what one says and what one does not say; . . There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses." 143

In some circumstances (such as war), women's absence has been naturalized in our discourses; if noted it has often gone without commentary. Descriptions of tournaments written between the late eleventh and the middle of the thirteenth rarely mention women, even as bystanders or interested observers. 144 And as Joel Rosenthal has remarked: Modern "historians treat war as though it were an exclusive men's club. A moment of reflection should remind us that women and children, as well as men, knew of war in the Middle Ages, as in other times." 145 Other instances of such exclusions have been noticed by Morrison (156-59). The absence of women from real combat might have caused no surprise earlier in the century, but it has to be viewed in the context of a strong Anglo-Saxon literary tradition that celebrated warrior women and female heroes, such as the virgin saint Juliana, Elene (Helen, inventor of the True Cross), and the Old Testament Judith (Dietrich, 42). The medieval and modern examples of exclusion mentioned above suppress this tradition, forcing it into an imaginary field. 146 The question then arises, what takes the place of women in representation: How are they displaced?

Huston has given a powerful and far-reaching account of the competitive interdependence of "mothers and heroes". In a brilliant multi-cultural evocation of mythology, literature, initiation rites, and metaphor, she explored the possibility that "men make war because women have children" (Huston, 119); birthing, after all, is a natural function of women (which is not to say that all women have to give birth), whereas violent human conflict has only been naturalized in our discourses. Men may have chosen combat to prove their virility as a form of "suffering as dignified, as meritorious and as spectacular in its results as that of childbirth" (Huston, 131). And in many cultures, men must abstain from relations with women when they are preparing for battle -- an abstinence often made visible in the shaving of their heads (Huston, 120). What is remarkable about her perceptions is that they immediately "explain" the absense of mothers from the narrative of the Embroidery (until one has to flee the advancing army), just as the battle itself found cause in the failure of Anglo-Saxon queens (Edith and Aelfgyva) to give birth to a legitimate heir.

A medieval historian, working largely from primary sources written by men in the late eleventh and the twelfth centuries, has concentrated on "what is said and what is not said" (Morrison, 159). He called on medieval aesthetic and moral attitudes to verbal and visual representation, to explain "the esthetic barrier between men and women" (Morrison, 166). He introduced the topic of the suppression of some information concerning women in historical texts, with the postulate that other information is given in its stead: "As did not happen in regard to historyless Jews, heretics, and servile orders, something was said in the silences that illuminated the assumptions underlying the modeling process -- the hermeneutic method -- by which the texts were formed." His brief analysis of the representations of women in the Bayeux Embroidery concluded that they are scarcely deemed worthy of mnemonic or mimetic import; their appearance, including dress and gestures, is so normative that they constitute merely "rare and stereotyped abstractions," in contrast to the numbers and individuality of men, and even horses (Morrison, 165-166). He argues that the mimetic functions of women were severely limited in a warrior society. This suggests to him that "some function was prior to the mnemonic and mimetic ones and governed them." Stepping abruptly outside the middle ages, Morrison finally agreed with a feminist view, that men's control of the symbolic value of representation is essential to their control of women. 147

In a sampling of texts that stem from the continent (mainly from Germanic or Slavic lands), Morrison remarked on an arbitrary pattern of exclusion; yet these lacunae are consistent with the exclusion of women in Christian society from what he calls "the cult of sacrifice," from the rituals that reenact good violence, and from the "forms of play that were essential to forming and exhibiting male identity" (Morrison, 166, 179). 148 He returned to the aesthetic model, however, to argue that the exclusion of women depends on the hedonic function of history -- its ability to give pleasure -- and its counterpart, anhedonia, or "the erotic pleasure in renouncing pleasure" (Morrison, 186-187). Thus historical writers (who of course were monks or clerics) avoided describing the physical appearances of women, whereas they were known to indulge themselves and their readers with evocations of male beauty (Morrison, 189-190). They also showed no inclination to report the speech of women. Ultimately, moral theology is seen as the guiding principle behind the silence and epiphany that governed the portrayal of women, portrayals that are, therefore, viewed as erotic iconoclasm (Morrison, 192-194).

The historical project of discovering long-standing patterns of gender representation, has played a significant role in advancing an understanding of exclusion. In a study that is very important for my project, Gleason examined the ways in which some late Roman authors assessed the masculinity of an individual. She found that "masculinity was an achieved state," the result of behavior modification that ensured a balance between hyper-virile and feminine traits in an individual who was sexed male (Gleason, 1995, 159). Training and competition in rhetoric provided occasions for men to develop and display their manliness, and "this environment fostered the practice of skewering one's opponents for their effeminate style." Precisely because women were excluded from these activities, the language of power appropriated the language of gender: "So absent indeed were real women that the "other," an apparently essential component in the process of self-fashioning, had to be called into being within an entirely masculine context" (Gleason, 1995, 160). It is here that we begin to encounter the rhetorical construction of a "third sex,"or properly speaking a third gender (since it is a representation). The conventional use of third sex to denote homosexuals is applicable to ancient Greek and Roman culture, as we shall see, but the medieval view was somewhat different (Nederman & True). 149

Third Gender as a Bipolar Term of Masculinity

Several authors have noted in passing the intensified relationships between men that result from the absence of women, and even episodes of cross-dressing, but without theorizing them. In a recent monograph, a historian of science has delineated the "history" of exclusion of women from intellectual endeavors up to our own times, as "part of a larger inquiry into the origins and implications of the masculine culture of Western science and technology" (Noble, xi). Relying heavily on historians such as Peter Brown, David Hurlihy, JoAnn McNamara, R. W. Southern, and Suzanne Wemple, Noble has constructed a narrative of the cyclic rejections of women in "Christian clerical culture," that culminated in their exclusion from schools and universities. Rather than postulating an "enduring legacy of ancient Greece, with its homosocial Platonic academies and Aristotelian misogyny," he follows a nuanced path through the stages and stations of medieval gynephobia (Noble, xv). The story is well known: The presence of women was tolerated by the early church fathers on condition married priests remained celibate, in the name of asceticism. Ironically, Noble does not tell the women's side of this story that is available; Miles has vividly evoked the creation of subjectivity of ascetic women in this period, whose own "bodies became . . . both the location and the symbol of a religious self" (Miles, 54). Noble describes only a long legacy of such tolerance, manifested in encratic marriages and double monasteries, and lasting into the twelfth century in some regions until reformed Benedictine monasticism segregated and subjugated women, cutting them off from Latin learning. 150 This phase is especially pertinent to the impact of the Norman conquest, since the reform was spread by Norman churchmen, as we have seen.

Early in Noble's account, however, the compensatory value of male companionship is noted: Augustine, despite the concubine who bore him a child, and his later wife, looked back on the early pleasures of male friendship as "the sweetest joy of his life," and wrote eloquently of the satisfactions of male bonding: "To talk and laugh. To do each other kindness. To read pleasant books together, these and such like things, proceeding from our hearts as we gave affection and received it back, and shown by face, by voice, by eyes, and by a thousand pleasing ways, kindled a flame which fused our very souls together, and, of many, made us one" (Noble, 67-68). Self-imposed celibacy is credited in this narrative as the root cause of misogyny, and not the other way. 151 The result was an empowerment of the clergy as a single celibate body, and the next step is described in a chapter entitled "Brothers: The Militarization of Monasticism" (Noble, 83-107). Much more is meant here than that, for example, one of the agents of the reforms of the eighth century, Benedict of Aniane, had served in Charlemagne's army for five years before entering a monastery (Noble, 97). The highly organized monastic communities are likened to armies in their regimen, and monks were regarded as spiritual warriors. Eventually, subordination of the monasteries to the bishops left women out of the ecclesiastical chain of command (Noble, 99-100). At the same time, through imperial regulations governing the uses of vernacular and Latin, the clergy became a "linguistically distinct elite caste" (Noble, 93). 152 Noble's narrative of misogyny is sustained throughout by the teleology that male bonding leads to a world without women, whether in learned or military circles, thus cyclically reenacting originary homosocial structures like those of classical times, especially in those periods that have been designated renaissances; he does not seek further causes. His analysis is particularly pertinent to the Bayeux Embroidery, both for the historical moment of its creation and its representation of masculinities formed by male bonding. Huston took a breath-taking short-cut to a similar position when she declared that "war is a homosexual institution" (Huston, 132).

Both Morrison and Noble began to notice, almost without commentary, various manifestations of fluid gender boundaries in medieval Christian culture, including transvestitism which can be a form of displacement of women. Each recounts instances of cross-dressing. A cleric hid among women, as they made offerings of incense, to approach the altar of Metz Cathedral in order to place papal letters of interdict on it but put aside his disguise to leave the scene; the account surely would not otherwise have mentioned the routine collective activities of women (Morrison, 158). With his flair for erudition, Morrison then crams as many instances of transvestitism as he can come by into a gigantic footnote. He touches on the subject of cross-dressing again in reporting Herrad of Landsberg's low opinion of "actors who, like jesters, practiced transvestitism, women dressing as men, and men, as women." but provides no further commentary until other episodes surface some pages later (181, 184-85, cf. also 14 & 62). 153 He is content to leave each case in the immediate context of medieval moral outrage, without attempting to explain the anxiety level expressed in these texts by conditions outside Christian morality, such as the conflicting urges toward homophobia and homoeroticism that are perhaps inevitable in male bonding. Another apparently self-explanatory case is that of the young woman who attended the University of Krakow in the early fourteenth century disguised as a man; her reply to her accusers that the dissimulation was all "for love of learning" appears to have satisfied her contemporary and her modern chroniclers (Noble, 159). Yet how are we to suppose this episode relates to an earlier ascetic tradition that treated virginal women as symbolic men (Noble, 72)?

For a close theoretical reading of a single early medieval case of male-to-female cross-dressing, we have to thank Partner; the man in question was reported to have excused himself on the grounds of impotency, and she notes that "in the dress [he] gave up even his prima facie claim to a man's social identity." She concluded that: "In the absence of a distinct Merovingian social construct to govern the lives of all 'unmanly men,' only a sexually organized male self in furious revulsion against itself would have arrived at this improvisation on gender." 154 It is also significant, however, that his transvestitism was not itself a cause of complaint. Rather, he was supposed to have been disguised by the Abbess in order to have access to her as a lover, and she was accused by her own nuns. The unfortunate man they identified as her lover, whose subjectivity is Partner's concern, might also be looked on as an object in relation to a female power struggle. And, although the stated charge against the Abbess did not prevail because no virile lover in women's dress could be found, an unspoken charge hovers over the text and is never answered: that she emasculated him.

More often perhaps, the sporadic presence of women in a narrative may serve masculinity, and even male-to-male relationships. Miles introduced her probing account of "female nakedness and religious meaning in the Christian West" by examining the Babylonian legend of king Gilgamesh, "the first extant text that depicts heroic struggle against the restraints of humanness" (Miles, 1-4). It recounts the roles of three women or groups of women in the development of the subjectivity of two heroes, Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Only one woman is named, and none are allowed subjectivity. 155 For my present purposes, it is more important to note that in the Babylonian legend, the bonding of the heroes is initiated by a fight whereby Enkidu prevents Gilgamesh from engaging in sexual relations with women, and after his defeat Gilgamesh reserves a sublimated love for his new partner; it is not until he is mourning Enkidu's death the Gilgamesh encounters another woman , whose counsel he seeks. This reading may be nuanced by the story's moral tenor, which does not overtly proclaim the evil of heterosexual activity; rather, it establishes a hierarchy whereby raping other men's wives is not acceptable, whereas sex with a prostitute can be a civilizing experience even if it diminishes male strength. Yet these encounters with women are emotionally and spiritually empty if compared with the companionship, in mutual respect and love, of two men. Women were the catalyst in this relationship, and once it is formed and as long as it lasts, they are not needed. This situation is paralleled in the Bayeux Embroidery, from which women also withdraw when they have served the construction of masculinities.

Masculinities in Context:

To complete this section on theoretical frameworks, I turn to several recent studies of gender representation that have redefined masculinity, especially in contexts of conflict, in different cultural moments. Four studies acknowledge changing concepts of masculinity from ca. 1800 on in relation to current theories of gender construction (Lloyd, Kimmel, Morgan, Bryson). Three are case-studies of the modern world, spanning Weimar Germany to the recent past in the United States (Theweleit, Jeffords, Nelson). Five deal with images from classical antiquity (Kellum, Winkler, Gleason, Frontisi-Ducroux & Lissarrague, Ferrari). And two are concerned with medieval representations, from pre-Christian Scandinavia and from Crusading Spain (Clover, Mirrer). None deal with analogous situations to the Norman conquest, nor are they primarily concerned with the presence or absence of women. Their value to my project is that each both explores difference in a way that is not structured according to a simple sexual dimorphism, and provides insights into relationships among men in the absence of women. Secondarily, the earlier representations may have had an impact on Norman gender construction, but I am not primarily concerned here with a history of masculinities and of female exclusion.

The current debate about women and gays in the U.S. military has thrown some of the issues into sharp relief. Lloyd has suggested that the very definition of citizenship is at stake, since a powerful philosophical tradition, stemming from Hegel, Kant and Rousseau, had insisted that men become true citizens in war by leaving their women (and all private concerns) behind: "Womankind is constructed so as to be what has to be transcended to be a citizen. Ethical life has been construed in this tradition precisely as the transcending of the 'feminine'" (Lloyd, 75). Women can serve the state only by giving up husbands and sons -- or more precisely: "Surrendering sons to significant deaths becomes a higher form of giving birth" (76). This account can encompass the masculinity of the Norman conquerors, which is defined by their womenless state and their military victories, and it begins to define the defeated Anglo-Saxon men in relation to the presence of (albeit so few) women, as lacking masculinity and forfeiting citizenship.

A deeper look at the problem of masculinities historicizes the terms manhood and masculinity, in order to see them "as a constantly changing collection of meanings that we construct through our relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with our world" (Kimmel, 120). The history of U.S. masculinity is described in three phases, the "Genteel Patriarch," the "Heroic Artisan," and the capitalist vision of "Marketplace Manhood" (123). Each defined himself in terms of difference from some Other, whether on the basis of sex, race, class -- or even vis à vis an outmoded image of masculinity; thus Marketplace Man is seen "casting aside the Genteel Patriarch as an anachronistic feminized dandy." In a male-only world, men define their masculinity in competition with others, constantly having to re-prove it: "Masculinity is a homosocial enactment" (129). Fear of being a sissy, and homophobia, are held to be dominant forces in the production of manhood. 156 Kimmel does not distinguish between the capitalist workplace and the military as a site of gender construction, but combat is the subject of the paper by Morgan in the same collection, which also focuses on homophobia (Morgan, 167-68). Some account is found here of the shaping of men's bodies into a body of men, through "the sculpting of the close haircut and the enclosure into uniforms" (166-67). As we have seen, in the Bayeux Embroidery the masculinity of the victors is represented along these lines, their hair and battle dress emphasizing their difference from weaker men who are emasculated dandies.

Representations of military men also provided Bryson with a case study to test a theory of masculinity; concentrating largely on paintings of the Napoleonic era in France, by Géricault, he remarked on the importance of the uniforms worn by the various ranks, their manner of holding their swords, and the portrayal of their horses, as ways of conveying their virility (Bryson, figs. 3-8). Yet he ascribes failings in the masculinity of some of these subjects to the psychological issues surrounding the gaze of male on male, particularly Oedipal anxieties concerning the power of the father, rather than to constructions of national/enemy fighting men. Significantly for my project, he chose to overlook the absence of women from these images.

Theweleit's case study, on the other hand, led him unexpectedly to a consideration of women. His reading of the textualization of fascist military in Germany between the Wars registers the exclusion of intimate women's names and actions, concluding that "Real men lack nothing when women are lacking" (8-13, 33, 74-75). If they are not subjugated, they can be nameless monsters, to be stamped out whether they are "natural" sexual aggressors or "unnatural" warrior enemies (63- 79, 434). He resisted positing Freudian notions of penis envy and object relations as causes, and like Noble rejected the idea that social structures that excluded women (such as the military) were responsible for misogyny (56-57, 194, 201-09 ). Instead, he associated the construction of the iron man with the desire for the production of death as " ideological capital" (34, 61, 195-197, 220). The enemy Other takes a variety of forms: Bolshevik, rifle-woman, Jew, and homosexual (54-55, 65-70, 82-84, 216, 398-399).

In a variety of narratives of the Vietnam War, Jeffords has identified representations in which "enemies are depicted as feminine, wives and mothers and girl friends are justifications for fighting, and vocabularies are sexually motivated." Such representations are seen to support "the interests of masculinity and patriarchy" and to be an "an emblem for . . .the 'remasculization' of America" at the present time (xi). Jeffords examines the "tensions between 'masculinity' and 'men'" in Vietnam narratives with reference to what she terms "the masculine point of view, which represents the disembodied voice of masculinity" (xiii). The separation allows her to identify groups of men who were feminized in order to allow others dominance over them, eliding the feminine with weakness; these groups include, in different representations, the Asian enemy, the anti-war demonstrators, and eventually the Vietnam vets who returned home to be reviled by their fellow countrymen or betrayed by their government. The mechanics and expressions of male bonding in the battle field are exposed, along with tensions arising from homoeroticism, and their alleviation by raping enemy women "as a confirmation of masculine bonds and as display" (Jeffords, 68-69). Women's roles are (otherwise) negated, even the production of children being represented as a male achievement; one story recounts the male group delivery of a child by caesarian section from a dead Vietnamese mother, the ultimate exclusion of women and the appropriation of her reproductive role by men (47, 75, 90-92, 141, 196-97, n. 19). Frequently, women are simply excluded (52, 60, 81, 92, 133-34). The narratives contribute to a remasculinization of an America that had been feminized by defeat. Jeffords' thesis is that male bonding, and the virtual exclusion of women, is essential to the process of masculinization. 157 And if bonding raises anxieties about homosexuality, this is because one partner in the sexual relationship is feminized by taking the ''woman's" place; the threat of the feminine is not removed with the absence of real women (71-72). I have already indicted the relevance of this text to my reading of the Bayeux Embroidery.

In a more facile study of popular culture, Nelson has shown that all-male sports can still create a men's world comparable to that of the battle field. The exclusion of women-- recently highlighted by the insistence of women journalists to have equal access to the locker-room -- enables men to bond with each other, but they are careful to keep sexual relations with women as a topic between them to suppress homoerotic yearnings (12, 143, 243-45). 158 Rough language applied to all things female or feminine reinforces heterosexual preferences by emphasizing sexual dominance; the players denigrate women, reducing sex to a commodity, a reward for athletic prowess (147). In that semantic space, they can taunt their rivals with threats such as boxer Mike Tyson's "I'll make you my girlfriend;" being fucked and being fucked-over have become one (153). Gender polarity expressed as sexual difference is enlisted by fighting men to make enemies of men. The fraternity initiation rite is another semantic space in which brothers taunt pledges, deriding them as sissies, girls, and pansies, ostensibly in order to kill the woman in the man; here male bonding makes out women to be the enemy, to the point of encouraging gang rape (Sanday, 156, 159, 162, 164, 167). 159 Nelson is not alone in remarking on the coincidence between an increase in these behaviors and an advance in women's independence; such confluences occurred in the nineteenth century as well as in our own time. 160

Pre-modern cultures did not share the modern view of gender as coincident with "opposite" sexual difference. 161 Several authors have elucidated the Gallenic concept of a continuum linking women to masculine women to feminine men to masculine men. The ancient world of Greece and Rome has been especially fertile ground for the study of a plurality of masculinities in relation to the body politic. Most recently, Kellum has examined the Forum of Augustus as "a sexually fraught theater for the engendering of the masculine" in relation to "a nexus of presuppositions about gender and power in the battlefield, in the bedroom, and in the lawcourts" (Kellum, 170, 172). Phalloi were deployed, in statues and amulets and in the very ground plan, to protect and reinforce male prowess and recall their triumphs; and female caryatids are interpreted as captives signifying "the timeworn analogies between the penetration of a woman's body and the breeching of enemy fortresses," providing "linkage between women and subdued barbarians" (171-172). Verbal insults, and inscribed weapons, constructed some men as being penetrated, others as wielding the phallus (174). Indeed, "the matrial and the amatory were inherently a part of one another" (178). These are themes that I have found in the Bayeux Embroidery.

Using theatrical representation of tragic and comic male characters as a point of departure, Winkler has elucidated the corporeal code associated with "proper civic masculinity" in the seventh to fifth centuries (32). He found that "the field we call anatomy was coded for the Greeks with social messages about class and status" (35). Whereas the herm, "a plain rectangular pillar, adorned only with a carved head and an erect penis," represented generic patriarchs and was deployed at public and private boundaries, the contrasting body language of comic and tragic actors separated classes of masculinity identified with "military manhood and its deviations" (35-37). The superior type is serious, athletic, disciplined; his counterpart is fat, grotesque and uncontrolled; his phallus is overly large but he is smaller in stature (41). This sub-group are not notably feminine; they are an odd mixture of hyper-virility and weakness.

Ancient Greek culture has also provided sexually ambivalent representations of gender that are a rich ground for subtler analyses than those of Jeffords and Nelson. 162 In one study, sexually ambiguous bearded figures in women's clothing, depicted dancing on Attic vases, are carefully decoded as "ambisexed beings, striving to transcend gender categories" as they enact a collective celebration (kw=mos) with wine and music . In this case, the (voluntary) donning of women's clothing and attributes by adult males is liberating; it does not detract from the subjects' masculinity, but supplements their gender (Frontisi-Ducroux & Lissarrague, 228-29). Ultimately, the authors see these representations as expressions of a desire "to become other, to become -- just a little bit -- woman, Eastern, or barbarian." Like Dionysus, they can alternate between hyper-virility and the transcendence of sex (232, n. 109).

Another type of representation from the Greek Classical period has been viewed in light of the creation of a sub-group of males as feminized Other. Gleason relies heavily on the textual traditions that emphasized the construction of masculinity as "an achieved state, radically undetermined by anatomical sex" (Gleason, 391). She distinguished men of indeterminate sex as effeminate (her preferred translation of androgynous) and distinguished them from ki/naidoi, men who preferred to play a woman's sexual role and sometimes became male prostitutes. Courage, order, restraint, and wearing a beard were signs of the true male, who should not go against nature by plucking out his hair (401). This latter view was Christianized by Clement, who noted that Adam was hairy whereas God made Eve from his hairless parts. We have seen that by the high middle ages theologians in the Roman church had turned around the role of nature in relation to men's hair, claiming that short hair was natural. This only serves to underline the extent to which gender codes have been arbitrarily chosen.

Ferrari refers to the sub-group of effeminate men as "the third sex," noting that since Aristotle did not regard all males as masculine, he left space for this other alternative (181-83). Several Greek authors, of course, attributed to boys some of the traits we might think of as feminine: natural beauty, including smooth cheeks and a blush, and an averted gaze (Ferrari, 188-191). Thus praised for their beauty, they are, however, as yet pre-masculine ("other-than-man"). Yet once they grew beards and body hair they were spurned if they tried to shave and pluck it out; it is then that they were reviled as "feminized," in their use of cosmetics and oils and deception, all of which were used by women and were considered against nature (Ferrari, 192). The male who continued to play the passive part to his male lover after coming of age was considered indecent, and became the butt of slurs and quips; he belonged to a third gender. His social status as Other was very different from the fantasy of the self able to merge with the Other by assuming some of its superficial aspects.

Ferrari's close reading of Aristotle's system of gender difference has important implications for medieval chivalric culture. Aristotle claimed that when young men were ready to leave boyhood, instruction in the art of war would lead them toward the attainment of masculinity, whereas young women must learn to love menial tasks like weaving (Ferrari, 185). 163 The practical distinction in education and behaviors, which we would now characterize as part of gender construction, would have prevailed in knightly families of the middle ages, with or without knowledge of Aristotle's Rhetoric. As Ferrari has argued, Aristotle's text makes clear what is only implicit in the distinction, that the skills of war (combined with those of rhetoric, including the right to speak) take a positive role in forming masculinity. They also give male subjects agency, such as we see them possessing in the representations of the Bayeux Embroidery. Aristotle explains that the practice of menial tasks such as textile skills, on the other hand, was not to form femininity, but to help contain it, whereas his silence on the subject of speech for women must mean they did not have a right to it. 164 Women, therefore, were to disappear silently into the home when they reached maturity, leaving the public arena to men who were variously masculine or emasculated.

Overall, the model of gender construction developed for the Classical period by Ferrari is almost disconcertingly apt in its applicability to the representations of the Bayeux Embroidery; the specifics of signing had changed, but the three-fold signification is clear. However, the definition of a third gender in eleventh-century Norman representations is more likely tied to Nordic literary traditions than to Classical ones, and in Christian society, an indecorous "third sex" was easily associated with an emasculated opponent. 165 Clover has commented at length on the sex-gender system that pertained in pre-Christian Scandinavia, as evinced in the Icelandic sagas, which she finds fundamentally different from the binary polarities that have dominated modern thinking (Clover, 62-70). 166 The many instances of women who wielded power (it used to be said, like men) in Nordic culture vitiate any attempt to distinguish feminine and masculine traits, but she speculates that the lines were firmly drawn later, under medieval Christian influence (83). She has pointed out that not only were (some) women regarded as "male," but masculinity was reconfigured in terms of courage, honor, prowess in battle and in sexual penetration, and so on; men derided each other as womanish and beggardly if they were lacking in these (Clover, 70-74): The "unmanly" insultee in Old Norse texts might be labeled as sodomizable: "Anal penetration constructed the man who experienced it as whore, bride, mare, bitch, and the like -- in whatever guise a female creature, and as such subject to pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation." 167 (The bitch that refused to give up a borrowed lair after raising its pups in it, in a lower margin of the Bayeux Embroidery was used against Harold in this sense; Lewis, 69). Or he might be "coded as effeminate" for staying home to philander with slave girls as "an active 'phallic aggressor'." Some of these labels seem to have carried over from Viking settlements in Normandy, resurfacing in eleventh-century satires directed at men of other ethnic identities (Musset; Warner of Rouen, 18-29, 48-51). 168 Essential to their self-identification as Normanni (north men) was the construction of difference from others (Searle, 242). Judging by the Bayeux Embroidery, the Normans may have succumbed to Christian polarization of male/female roles, and acceded to an almost monastic exclusion of women, but we have seen that they retained much of their originary Viking culture in their use of sex as a metaphor for power, whereby they both "feminized" weak men and satirized their heterosexual exploits (Clover, 70-75). Lurking there is the idea common to Freikorps officers and contemporary athletes that womanizing is not only a sign of (moral) weakness, it also leads to a loss of virile strength.

Norman attitudes to their neighbors were readily adapted and expanded to deal with more distant enemies. One case study has elucidated the crusading attitude to an enemy Other, through an analysis of Castillian epics and ballads of the thirteenth century and later (Mirrer)). Since "real" men -- fighting men -- prove their masculinity "not through biology, but through force, intimidation, and the use of threatening language," Muslim enemies are derided for their docile courtesy (especially when extended toward Christians), their close relationships with their mothers, and a supposed lack of sexual prowess (169-170). Their clothing, which then as now included veils to cover the neck from the sun, is found effeminate, and they are represented as being small in stature (172). Even Muslim strongholds are feminized as brides to be taken by Christian kings (172). The link between "military and sexual conquest" has also been identified in later Spanish expressions, such as the reported claim that "Spain conquered America not by the sword, but by the prick." 169 In this body of literature, apparently, womanizing is an attribute of "real men," not of the third gender. Mirrer in fact does not use that term for these men who were diminished by rhetoric; she prefers to view their characterization as unambiguously effeminate, a displacement that inscribes the conquered within the hegemonies of sexual domination, in the absence of women (171, 181-82).

More systematic, it seems, was the development in the period immediately following the Norman Conquest of the concept of a "third sex" embodied in the hermaphrodite. Erudite discourses for the most part dealt with this creature as distinguishable from effeminate men or masculine women because it was born with both male and female genitals; William of Conches, who was born in Normandy in 1080, was among the writers who subscribed to this theory (Nederman & True, 505). Indeed, Constantine the African translated a pseudo-Galenic text that contains the kernel of this idea into Latin in the eleventh century, so it could have been known in Bishop Odo's circle (Nederman & True, 503). It was ripe for elaboration in the second half of the twelfth century in the moralizing treatises of John of Salisbury, Alan of Lille, and Peter the Chanter, who warned of the dangers posed by hermaphrodites, including sodomy and fraud. The hermaphrodite, they said, also threatened to pervert Latin grammar, since that language properly allowed only masculine and feminine terms for people, reserving the neuter gender for things (Nederman & True, 508-10, give a very confusing account of this). Warner of Rouen's much earlier poem, Moriuht, also associates linguistic flaws, though more particularly the neglect of poetics, with bi-sexual outrage. This work indeed remains a crucial source for the projection of the Anglo-Saxons as a third sex.

The cases reviewed here vary, not only because they come from very different periods in western culture, but because they focus on representations that are inflected by particular circumstances and value systems. Even as applied to Greek formulations of masculinity, the third gender is "othered" by dominant males; it is not a simple case of being queer, but of hegemonies. In the Christian models, hyper-virile men are "othered" as much (or with) the effeminate. The third gender proves as unstable as the second. It is constructed anew in response to threatened invasions (military or sexual) as butt, scapegoat and whipping boy. But it is worth noticing that the absense of women is a condition of this aggressivity. Sanday evolved a formula from comparative anthropology: "Male dominance in myth and everyday life is associated with fear, conflict, and strife. . . . Men attempt to neutralize the power they think is inherent in women by stealing it, nullifying it, or banishing it to invisibility." 170


Essential Reading for Chapter 2: Norman Knights, Anglo-Saxon Women and the "Third Sex"

Note: These sources are organized under three headings. The first concerns the Bayeux Embroidery and the second, the history of Anglo-Saxon women. The theoretical frameworks that inform this study are in the third section, including readings on the exclusion of women, and the construction of masculinities.

I: The Bayeux Embroidery, Anglo-Saxon Art, and Norman History:

  • Anon. 19th-century copy: Pen and ink and water colors on paper, mounted on linen, 68' 6" by 10" . Mount Holyoke College Library, Special Collections.
  • Bachrach, Bernard S. "Some Observations On The Bayeux Tapestry." Cithara 27/1 (Nov. 1987): 5-28.
  • Bernstein, David J. The Mystery of the Bayeux Tapestry . London: Guild Publishing, 1986.
  • Bertrand, Simone. La tapisserie de Bayeux . La Pierre-qui-Vire: Zodiaque, 1966.
  • Brilliant, Richard. "The Bayeux Tapestry: A Stripped Narrative for Their Eyes and Ears." Word & Image 7/2 (April-June 1991): 98-126.
  • Brown, Shirley Ann. The Bayeux Tapestry: History and Bibliography . Woodbridge: Boydell, 1988.
  • Campbell, M. W. "Aelfgyva: The Mysterious Lady of the Bayeux Tapestry." Annales de Normandie 34 (1984): 127-45.
  • Caviness, Madeline H. "Obscenity and Alterity: Images that Shock and Offend Us/Them, Now/Then?" In Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages . Cultures, Beliefs and Traditions, 4, ed. Jan M. Ziolkowski, 155-75. Leiden: Brill, 1998.
  • Cholakian, Rouben C. "The Bayeux Tapestry: Is there more to Say?" Annales de Normandie 47/1 (March 1997): 43-50.
  • Davis, R. H. C. "The Warhorses of the Normans." In Anglo-Norman Studies X . Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1987, ed. R. Allen Brown, 67-82. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1988.
  • Dodwell, Christopher R. Anglo-Saxon Art: A New Perspective . Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982.
  • Dodwell, Christopher R. The Pictorial Arts of the West 800-1200 . Pelican History of Art. New London: Yale University Press, 1993.
  • Grape, Wolfgang. The Bayeux Tapestry: Monument to a Norman Triumph . Trans. David Britt. Munich: Prestel, 1994. Originally Der Teppich von Bayeux: Triumpfdenkmal der Normannen.
  • Guillaume de Poitiers. Histoire de Guillaume le Conquérant . Gesta Guillelmi Ducis Normannorum et Regis Anglorum, ed. and trans. Raymonde Foreville. Paris: Société d'Édition "Les Belles Lettres," 1952.
  • Heslop, T. A. "The production of de luxe manuscripts and the patronage of King Cnut and Queen Emma." Anglo-Saxon England , 19 (1990): 151-95.
  • Kelly, Susan. "Ubi unus clericus et Aelfgyva: Aelfgyva and the Bayeux Tapestry: An Alternative Seduction," unpublished paper. In "Women and Anglo-Saxon England," chaired by Helen Damico, session 134, 30th International Congress on Medieval Studies , Western Michigan University, May 4-7, 1995.
  • Le Thieullier, Smart. "Description de la Tapisserie conservé à la cathédrale de Bayeux." In Antiquités Anglo-Normandes de Ducarel . Caen: Mancel, 1824, 325-404, Pls. XXXV-XLII.
  • Lewis, Suzanne. The Rhetoric of Power in the Bayeux Tapestry . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • McNulty, J. Bard. "The Lady Aelfgyva in the Bayeux Tapestry." Speculum 55 (1980): 659-68.
  • McNulty, J. Bard. Narrative Art of the Bayeux Tapestry Master . New York: AMS Press, 1989.
  • Montfaucon, Bernard de. Les monuments de la monarchie françoise . Paris: Gandouin et Giffart, vol. 1,1729, Pls. XXXV-XLIX, vol. 2, 1730, Pls. I-IX.
  • Musset, Lucien. "Le satiriste Garnier de Rouen et son milieu (début du XIe siècle)." Revue du moyen âge latin 10 (1954): 237-66.
  • Parisse, Michel. La Tapisserie de Bayeux. Un documentaire du XIe siècle . Paris: Denoël, 1983.
  • Searle, Eleanor. Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840-1066. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • Stenton, Sir Frank, ed. The Bayeux Tapestry: A Comprehensive Survey . 2nd. ed. London: Phaidon, 1965.
  • Stothard, Charles A. "The Bayeux Tapestry." Vetusta Monumenta 6. London: Society of Antiquaries, 1855. Reprinted, 1955.
  • Ville de Bayeux. Telle-du-Conquête dite Tapisserie de la reine Mathilde: Reproduction en couleurs. Bayeux: Combier Macon, c. 1978.
  • Warner of Rouen, Moriuht. Studies and Texts 121, ed. and trans. Christopher J. McDonough. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1995.
  • Werckmeister, O. K. "The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry." Nuovi Studi Medioevali ser. 3, XVII (1976): 535-95.
  • William of Poitiers, see Guillaume de Poitiers.
  • Wilson, David M. The Bayeux Tapestry: The Complete Tapestry in Color, with an Introduction, Description, and Commentary . London: Thames & Hudson and New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.
  • Wissolik, Richard David. The Bayeux Tapestry: A Critical, Annoteted Bibliography with Cross-References and Summary Outlines of Scholarship 1729-1990 . 2nd. ed. Greensberg PA: Eadmer Press, 1990.
  • Zarnecki, George. "Norman Art in Britain." In Problemi attuali di Scienza e di Cultura: I Normanni in Inghilterra . Rome: Accadeia nazionale dei Lincei, 1974, 17-28.

II: The Status of Women under Anglo-Saxon and Norman Rule:

  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . Rev. ed. 1954. Trans. and intro. G. N. Garmonsway. London: Dent & Sons, esp. 192-202.
  • Baron, Dennis. Grammar and Gender . New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.
  • Casey, Kathleen, " The Cheshire Cat: Reconstructing the Experience of Medieval Women." In Liberating Women's History: Theoretical and Critical Essays , ed. Berenice Carroll, 224-249. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press,.
  • Casey, Kathleen, "Women in Norman and Plantagenet England." In Kanner, 1980, 83-123.
  • Caviness, Madeline H. "Anchoress, Abbess and Queen: Donors and Patrons or Intercessors and Matrons?" In Women's Literary and Artistic Patronage in the Middle Ages , ed. June Hall McCash, 105-53. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996.
  • Cook, Geoge H. The English Cathedral through the Centuries . London: Phoenix House, 1957.
  • Dietrich Sheila C. "An Introduction to Women in Anglo-Saxon Society (c. 600-1066)." In Kanner, 1980, 32-56.
  • Fell, Christine, Cecily Clark, and Elizabeth Williams. Women in Anglo-Saxon England and the Impact of 1066 . Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1984.
  • Kanner, Barbara, ed. The Women of England From Anglo-Saxon Times to the Present. London: Mansell, 1980.
  • Klinck, Anne L. "Anglo-Saxon Women and the Law." Journal of Medieval History 8/2 (June 1982): 107-19.
  • Kittel, Ruth. "Women under the Law in Medieval England: 1066-1485." In Kanner, 1980, 124-37.
  • McNamara, Jo Ann, "The Herrenfrage: The Restructuring of the Gender System, 1050-1150." In Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages . Medieval Cultures 7, ed. Clare A. Lees, 3-29. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.
  • Meyer, Marc A. "Land Charters and the Legal Position of Anglo-Saxon Women." In Kanner, 1980, 57-82.
  • Rosenthal, Joel T. "Anglo-Saxon Attitudes: Men's Sources, Women's History." In Medieval Women and the Sources of Medieval History , ed. Rosenthal, 259-84. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, c. 1990.
  • Stafford, Pauline. Queens, Concubines, and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 1983.
  • Stafford, Pauline. "Women and the Norman Conquest." Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th. ser. 4 (1994): 221-49.
  • Stenton, Doris M. The English Woman in History. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1957.
  • Thompson, Sally. Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries after the Norman Conquest. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.
  • Whitelock, Dorothy. The Beginnings of English Society . Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1952.

III: Theoretical frameworks for reading the exclusion of women and the construction of masculinities:

  • Bartlett, Robert. "Symbolic Meanings of Hair in the Middle Ages." Transactions of the Royal Historical Society , 6th. ser. 4 (1994): 43-60.
  • Biesecker, Barbara. "Coming to Terms with Recent Attempts to Write Women into the History of Rhetoric." In Rethinking the History of Rhetoric: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Rhetorical Tradition , ed. Takis Poulakos, 153-172. Boulder: Westview Press, 1993.
  • Bryson, Norman. "Géricault and Masculinity." In Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations , ed. Norman Bryson, Michael Ann Holly and Keith Moxey, 228-59. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1994.
  • Bullough, Vern L. "On Being a Male in the Middle Ages." ." In Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages . Medieval Cultures 7, ed. Clare A. Lees, 331-45. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.
  • Clover, Carol. "Regardless of Sex: Men, Women, and Power in Early Northern Europe." In Studying Medieval Women: Sex, Gender, Feminism , ed. Nancy F. Partner, 61-85. Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1993
  • Derrida, Jacques. Margins of Philosophy . Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982, esp. 275-330. Originally published as Marges de la Philosophie . Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1972, 325-93.
  • Di Stefano, Christine. Configurations of Masculinity: A Feminist Perspective on Modern Political Theory . Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991, Introduction & ch. 1.
  • Ferrari, Gloria Pinney. "The Third Sex," ch. 4 of an unpublished book manuscript with the working tilte "Figures of Speech," 1992, 181-224.
  • Frontisi-Ducroux, Francoise and Lissarrangue, Francois. "From Ambiguity to Ambivalence: A Dionysiac Excursion through the 'Anakreontic' Vases," in Before Sexuality, ed. D. M. Halperin, J. J. Winkler, and F. I Zeitlin, 211-56. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
  • Gleason, Maud W. "The Semiotics of Gender: Physiognomy and Self-Fashioning in the Second Century C. E." In Before Sexuality , ed. D. M. Halperin, J. J. Winkler, and F. I. Zeitlin, 389-415. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Reworked as chapter 3 in Maud W. Gleason. Making Men: Sophists and Self-Representation in Ancient Rome . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995, 55-81.
  • Gledhill, Christine. "Developments in Feminist Film Criticism." In Re-Vision: Essays in Feminist Film Criticism , ed. M. A. Doane, Patricia Mellencamp and Linda Williams, 18-48. Los Angeles: The American Film Institute & University Publications of America, 1984.
  • Gubar, Susan. "'The Blank Page' and Issues of Female Creativity." In The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature, and Theory , ed. Elaine Showalter, 292-313. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.
  • Huston, Nancy. "The Matrix of War: Mothers and Heroes." In The Female Body in Western Culture: Contemporary Perspectives , ed. Susan Rubin Suleiman, 119-36. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986.
  • Irigaray, Luce. "This Sex Which Is Not One." Trans. Claudia Reeder. In New French Feminisms: An Anthology , ed. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, 99-106. New York: Schocken Books, 1981. Originally, "Ce sex qui n'en est pas un".
  • Jeffords, Susan. The Remasculinization of America: Gender and the Vietnam War . Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989.
  • Kaplan, Laura Duhan. "Woman as Caretaker: An Archetype That Supports Patriarchal Militarism." Hypatia 9/2 (Spring 1994): 123-33.
  • Kellum, Barbara. "The Phallus As Signifier: The Forum of Augustus and Rituals of Masculinity." In Sexuality in Ancient Art: Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Italy , ed. Buymel Kampen, 170-183. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  • Kimmel, Michael S. "Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity." In Theorizing Masculinities , ed. Harry Brod and Michael Kaufman, 119-41. London: Sage Publications, 1994.
  • Landy, Marcia. "The Silent Woman: Towards a Feminist Critique." In The Authority of Experience: Essays in Feminist Criticism , ed. Arlyn Diamond and Lee Edwards, 16-27. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977.
  • Lloyd, Genevieve. "Selfhood, War, and Masculinity." In Feminist Challenges , ed. Carole Pateman and Elizabeth Gross, 63-76. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1986.
  • Miles, Margaret R. Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West, New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1991.
  • Mirrer, Louise. "Representing 'Other' Men: Muslims, Jews, and Masculine Ideals in Medieval Castillian Epic and Ballad." In Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages . Medieval Cultures 7, ed. Clare A. Lees, 169-186. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.
  • Morazzoni, Marta. The Invention of Truth: A Novel . Trans. M. J. Fitzgerald. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.
  • Morgan, David H. J. "Theater of War: Combat, the Military, and Masculinities." Theorizing Masculinities , ed. Harry Brod and Michael Kaufman, 165-182. London: Sage Publications, 1994.
  • Morrison, Karl. "The Hermeneutic Role of Women: A Silence of Comprehension." History as a Visual Art . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990, ch. 6, 154-95.
  • Nederman, Cary J. and Jacqui True, "The Third Sex: The Idea of the Hermaphrodite in Twelfth-Century Europe," Journal of the History of Sexuality 6 (1996): 497-517.
  • Nelson, Mariah Burton. The Stronger Women Get The More Men Love Football: Sexism and the American Culture of Sports. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994.
  • Noble, David F. A World without Women: The Christian Clerical Culture of Western Science . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
  • Ong, Walter J. Fighting for Life: Contest, Sexuality, and Consciousness . Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981.
  • Platelle, H. "Le problème du scandale:: Ls nouvelles modes masculines aux XIe et XIIe siècles," Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire 53 (1975): 1071-96.
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1  Only one manuscript, copied after the conquest from a bilingual (English and Latin) version that ended in 1054, adds "she was called Aelfgifu in English, and Emma in French." I will normalize the spelling of this name as Aelfgyva here.

2  Julia Kristeva, About Chinese Women , trans. Anita Barrows (New York: Urizen Books, 1977), 15. Originally published in Paris in 1974.

3  Except in the totalizing sense used by Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, ed., New French Feminisms: An Anthology ( New York: Schocken Books, 1981), xii. Absense carried that weight in the original French.

4  Ironically, Lewis (37-39) has invoked the term silence, as also used by Derrida, in conjunction with the Bayeux Embroidery, but with a broader aim to demonstrate its textuality.

5  Eva Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993),252-66, Figs. 219-27, 229-39, 244.

6  Among examples, I note the distaff and spindle held by Eve in the prefatory cycle of the "York" Psalter of about 1165, University of Glasgow, MS Hunter 229, f. 8, illus. C. M. Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts 1066-1190 . A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles. (London: Harvey Miller, 1975), no. 95, 117-18, fig. 261). In the sculpted frieze of the west facade of Lincoln Cathedral, just before mid-twelfth century, Eve appears to hold a spindle after the birth of Abel: George Zarnecki, Romanesque Lincoln: The Sculpture of the Cathedral (Lincoln: The Honeywood Press, 1988), 43-48, Fig. 59; another example, in the mid-twelfth-century Winchester Psalter (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero C.IV, f. 3) is illustrated, Fig. 53. The Virgin appears with a distaff in the Berthold Missal from Weingarten, ca. 1200-1230 (see Hanns Swarzenski, The Berthold Missal, Pierpont Morgan Library MS 710 and the Scriptorium of Weingarten Abbey (New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1943), f. 86v, pp. 41, 97-98, Pl. XIX. In a late twelfth-century enamel plaque with the Visitation, two attendants with distaff and spindle flank Mary and Elizabeth: Enamels of Limoges 1100-1350 (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996), 114-15 (no. 19). A rather confused article gives many more examples, and tries to reconcile the good/evil, fecund/sexual associations of this polysemous sign: Frances M. Biscoglio, "'Unspun' heroes: iconography of the spinning woman in the Middle Ages," Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 25 (1995): 163-76; the author finds that men with spindles connote a threatening gender reversal, 173-75, fig. 9.

7  Willibald Sauerländer, Gothic Sculpture in France 1140-1270 , trans. Janet Sondheimer (New York: Harry Abrams, 1972), fig. 105; Giles Constable, Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought: The Interpretation of Mary and Martha, The Ideal of the Imitation of Christ, the Orders of Society (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,1995), 59-61.

8  The chain of male-with-male contracts involved in the design and execution of the Angers Apocalypse Tapestry for Louis of Anjou in 1373 has been elucidated by Fabienne Joubert, "L'Apocalypse d'Angers et les débuts de la tapisserie historiée," Bulletin Monumental 139 (1981): 125-40.

9  Even its authoritative curator (a woman) could not accept a term that she regarded as a slight: "et combien pauvre alors ce nom de broderie nous apparaît-il!" (Bertrand, 23). Yet she acknowledged that the title Tapisserie had created annoying confusions; the fifteenth-century inventory correctly referred to "une tente ... de telle à broderie" (modern French, "tenture de toile ...") or embroidered cloth hanging (18-21). The case for renaming has been eloquently made by Desirée Koslin, "Turning Time in the Bayeux Embroidery," Textile & Text 13 (1990), 28-9, though she would equally accept "Bayeux Wallhanging."

10  Another woman contemplated the possibility in the very first sentence of her foreword, dismissing it even as the thought was uttered: "To call the Bayeux Tapestry by any other name, even though it is actually a seventy-meter long embroidery of wool on linen, would be needlessly pedantic and would fly in the face of present tradition" (Brown, ix).

11  Whereas it seems to have been known as Duke William's Tapestry during the Revolution (when it narrowly escaped destruction), by 1803 it was referred to as "the tapestry embroidered by Queen Matilda:" see Simone Bertrand in Frank Stenton, pp. 90-95. The handy fold-out color reproduction by the Ville de Bayeux continues the tradition.

12  Brown, 14, indicates that Charles Stothard's wife, rather than the draughtsman himself, was said to have stolen a piece because of the "weakness of the female character."

13  A.L. Léchaudé D'Anisy, trans., Antiquités Anglo-Normandes de Ducarel (Caen: Mancel, 1823). The engraving is signed G. Engelmann.

14  I am grateful to the artist Linda Klein for a copy of this book.

15  The evident Anglo-Saxon sources and style in the designs have been consistently acknowledged by art historians until very recently; it was cogently argued by Francis Wormald in Frank Stenton, pp. 25-36, with additional observations by Bernstein, 37-50. It has now been challenged by Grape, 44-54, but in my view not convincingly. Bernstein, 199 n. 5, notes that all the Anglo Saxon references to embroidery cited by A. G. I. Christie, English Medieval Embroidery (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1938), Appendix 1, refer to women. It seems to have been the norm, however, that women created embroidery as gifts, most often for the church or churchmen, or for their household. Many examples are cited in the excellent chapters on textile arts in Dodwell 1982, 129-87.

16  Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 11, f. 46r; see: Zarnecki, Romanesque Lincoln, 46, fig. 54. For grave-goods, Fell, Clark & Williams, 40, fig. 12.

17  "Anglicae nationis feminae multum acu et auri textura;" these women are first in his list, but he goes on to say that English men excelled in all methods of working (omni atrificio), as did many skilled Germans who had come to live among them.

18  Parker also emphasizes that men appear in later accounts as embroiderers -- or as middlemen brokering commissions. Dodwell 1993, 29-30, adds some examples.

19  Mildred Budny, "The Byrhtnoth Tapestry or Embroidery," in The Battle of Maldon AD 991 , ed. Donald Scragg (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), 263-78, also gives a very good account of pre-conquest figural textiles.

20  Cf. Wendy Slatkin, Women Artists in History from Antiquity to the Present , rev. ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997), 56; she had already described the designer as of "undetermined sex" in the first edition of 1985.

21  For some discussion on this issue, see Madeline H. Caviness, "Patron or Matron? A Capetian Bride and a Vade Mecum for Her Marriage Bed," in Studying Medieval Women, ed. Nancy Partner (Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1993), 53-60; and chapter 3 below.

22  Pauline Stafford, Queen Emma and Queen Edith: Queenship and Women's Power in Eleventh-Century England (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), 3-27, has emphasized how few personal records of Emma remain.

23  It is not surprising that the embroidery has been invoked by another author interested in the exclusion of women, though he approached the subject differently (Morrison, 164-166).

24  For the 900th anniversary (1966), it was also photographed in color and reproduced in National Geographic . The fact that is has so far escaped the kind of de luxe facsimile publication given to some equally famous manuscripts (such as the book of Kells) may relate to the low status of textiles in the canon, and may have to do with its format, which does not lend itself to books. However, Wilson, 1985, comes close to luxury facsimile format.

25  Grape, 59-60, is unnecessarily puzzled by the mix of uncial and square forms (both appear in display scripts in manuscripts), and by the Norman spelling of some names, such as Wilgelm for William.

26  I do not agree with Bachrach, 7, who has preferred to understand these as part of an instruction to the designer that would normally have been covered over instead of being incorporated in the finished work.

27  A genealogy is provided in the collection with Bundy's paper (fig. 5.1). William's father, Robert, was Edward's first cousin. A useful map and chronology of events are given in Bernstein, 12-13; virtually identical material is also in Grape, 170-71.

28  Werckmeister, 568, has pointed out that in the eleventh century, the term could also mean vassal. This reading would diminish Harold's status here.

29  Diptych arrangements were quite common in medieval narratives, such as the early eleventh-century bronze doors of Hildesheim that give equal "time" to the Fall and to the Salvation.

30  Bertrand gave some grand totals which must include the borders: 626 human figures, 202 horses or mules, 55 dogs, and 505 other beasts (cited by Parisse, 141).

31  Davis, 68, claims all are stallions, but this cannot be verified in the case of, for instance, the mounts that show only their heads above the gunwale during the Channel crossing.

32  Godwin killed Edward's brother, Alfred, so there were no male heirs in King Aethelred's line.

33  As represented in the early fourteenth-century glass of the Abbey Church of Fécamp in Normandy: Madeline Harrison [Caviness], "A Life of St. Edward the Confessor in early fourteenth-century stained glass at Fécamp in Normandy," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 26 (1963): 29-30, Pl. XIVb (reprinted in Madeline H. Caviness, Paintings on Glass: Studies in Romanesque and Gothic Monumental Art (Aldershot, Hampshire: Variorum, 1997)..

34  There was a significant literature on the subject of Aelfgyva even before 1873; it is cited by Freeman, who leans toward identification with Harold's sister: Edward A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England, Its Causes and Results , III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1873), 469-71. See also Wissolik, 65-66.

35  Werckmeister, 580-81, says Turold has been traced to Normandy, and speculates that he may have been one of the instigators of the Embroidery commission when Odo was in prison (586); McNulty, 1989, 92, was more tentative in accepting the possibility that he represents "Turold of Rochester, a powerful tenant of William's half-brother Odo."

36  He places quotation marks here, but does not disclose his source. It is not Bernstein, whose work he is in large part reviewing, because he has it right: "Only four minor characters are designated by name in the entire Tapestry (Turold, Aelfgyva, Wadard, and Vital" (30).

37  "UBI UNUS CLERICUS ET AELFGYVA." Grape, 40, links this phrase to the prior inscription, over William escorting Harold: "HIC DUX WILGELM CUM HAROLDO VENIT AD PALATIUM SUUM," but the two are separated by the palace and the conversation between William and Harold. McNulty's reading of the pointing gestures here, indicating that Aelfgyva and the cleric are the subject of their exchange, seems apt. I have already remarked on the temporal connotations of HIC and UBI which regularly occur in the embroidery.

38  The solution is brought no nearer by insisting that Aelfgyva and the cleric must be in the palace (sic) at the same time as Harold, as by Richard Gameson, The Study of the Bayeux Tapestry (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1997), xi. He elected to reprint essays by Freeman and Prentout first published in 1873 and 1935 (Gameson, 15-18 & 22-25) without acknowledging McNulty's or Bachrach's contributions. Prentout had suggested the cleric is slapping Abbess Aelfgiva's face so she will remember an agreement, and the nudes are dancing soldiers, "beating their axes on their shields" (Gameson, Bayeux Tapestry , 23)! Cf. Grape, 40, who claims to be the first to see the veil, but who interprets the scene as a betrothal.

39  Linda Seidel, "Salome and the Canons," Women's Studies 11 (1984), 44-45, fig. 5, concurs with McNulty in this reading of the chin-chuck. It is very common later, in courting scenes in the Manesse Codex and on ivory mirror backs and caskets. For an overview from Egypt and Greece to the Baroque, see: Leo Steinberg, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion , 2nd. ed. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1996), 110-18. The chin-chuck is a universal sign of familiarity and patriarchal dominance among primates: Jane van Lawick-Goodall, In the Shadow of Man (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), 246, has reported: "When two chimpanzees greet each other after a separation, their behavior often looks amazingly like that shown by two humans in the same context. ... A male may chuck a female or an infant under the chin."

40 Words such as venerem (copulation) as an object of desire on the part of a woman have been partially erased from the Canterbury manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Cambridge Songs : Clifford Davidson, "Erotic 'Women's Songs' in Anglo-Saxon England," Neophilologus 59 (1975): 451-52.

41  I am dismissing Campbell's argument for a contemporary event, specifically that Harold is asking for the release of his nephew, Hakon, and that this scene alludes to his mother, Abbess Eadgifu of Leominster, who had been raped by his father (Campbell, 130-31, 143-45). It is pure conjecture that the mother was still at the Norman court, with her eighteen-year-old son, and highly unlikely that he would be not be named in the depiction if this were the intended scene.

42  An excellent study of the patronage of Emma and Cnut was done by T. A. Heslop, "The production of de luxe manuscripts and the patronage of King Cnut and Queen Emma," Anglo-Saxon England , 19 (1990): esp.156-61, 180-88.

43  Felicity Ratté has suggested that this is plausibly queen Edith, summoned to Westminster when Edward fell ill (verbal communication).

44  Female mourners also cluster around the deathbed of the Virgin, as in the tenth-century Benedictional of Archbishop Robert, Rouen, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS. 369, f. 54v; see also the Virgin at the Crucifixion in a Psalter from Winchester, London, British Library, MS Harl. 2904, f. 3v; illus. Dodwell 1993, figs. 85, 93.

45  Since the early nineteenth century, merde (shit) has been known euphemistically as le mot de Cambronne, for the Napoleonic general who led his troops at Waterloo with this expletive: Umberto Eco, Apocalypse Postponed, ed. Robert Lumley (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994), 109 & 111, n.1.

46  Women in the classical plays also retreat into their houses to die in silence, committing suicide: Nicole Loraux, Tragic Ways of Killing a Woman, trans. Anthony Forster (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 3-5, 20-21.

47  Bachrach, 8-9, has puzzled over the "inaccurate" representations of buildings and fortifications, which strengthens my point that they develop a semiotic of power.

48  E.g., the fourteenth-century Parisian casket in the British Museum, Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities 56, 6-23, 166, published in Les Fastes du Gothique: Le Siècle de Charles V. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 9 octobre 1981- 1er février 1982 (Paris: Éditions de la réunion des musées nationaux, 1981), 172-73, with bibliography.

49 London, British Library, Harleian MS 603: Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts , 81-83 (no. 64), figs. 200-07.

50  Again, I am helped by Bachrach's reality-testing when he notices there are no Norman foot-soldiers (contrary to the documents) and too many spears (10).

51  W. Brunsdon Yapp, "Animals in medieval art: the Bayeux Tapestry as an example," Journal of Medieval History 13 (1987): 27, regards the horses' erections as a touch of realism! He also dismisses the significance of the nude males below Aelfgyva as normal changing room stuff, included as decorations or jokes (33).

52  Anthony Weir and James Jerman, Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches (London: B. T. Batsford, 1986), Pl. 72; cf also figs. 66a & b, 68, and Pl. 73; and examples of phallic charms, candles, cakes, etc. from Roman to modern times listed pp. 145-148.

53  Percival Turnbull, "The Phallus in the Art of Roman Britain," Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London 15 (1978): 199-206. For medieval phallic cults and practices: Thorkil Vanggard, Phallòs: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World (New York: International Universities Press, 1972), chs. 14-16.

54  The first wave occurred in France after the exhibition of the Embroidery in the Musée Napoléon in 1803-4; a reviewer noted what a state the horses were in, and expressed disgust that Queen Matilda and her "maids of honor" could put their hands to such things The text of their complaint is printed from Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Cabinet des Estampes, Collection Deloynes, vol. XXX, no. 845, by Brown, 165, Appendix I, C, and translated by Caviness, 1998, 170. Engravings published in 1824 omitted human genitalia and curtailed the horses' (Le Thieullier).

55  Even in the 1920s it is said that a New York judge who took his daughter to see the "Bayeux Tapestries" found one scene so immoral that he "made a scene in the papers advocating their segregation:" F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Echoes of the Jazz Age," (1931) reprinted in The Crack-up , ed. Edmund Wilson (New York: New Directions, 1956), 21.

56  Caviness, 1998, 168-70, figs. 29, 33. Boys in British boarding schools were especially vulnerable to anxieties about their heterosexual masculinity, allayed for instance by playing Rugby football and singing songs that denigrated women and homosexuals: Philip A. White and Anne B. Vagi, "Rugby in the 19th-Century British Boarding School System: A Feminist Psychoanalytic Perspective," in Sport, Men and the Gender Order . ed. Michael Messner and Donald Sabo (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books, 1990), 67-78.

57  The smaller male was called a tercel, and not used as a hunting bird.

58  Quoted from his biographical romance, Le jouvencel by Anthony Wilden, Man and Woman, War and Peace: The Strategist's Companion (London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987), 175.

59  The fact that the dinner table, with the bishop in the center, resembles a Last Supper (with emphasis in the inscription on his blessing of the food and wine), only emphasizes the male bonding aspect of the scene, which was also at the root of the Christian church.

60  Bachrach puzzled over the unrealistic representation of what appear to be chain-mail trousers (11). Ian Peirce, "Arms, Armour and Warfare in the Eleventh Century," in Anglo-Norman Studies X (Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1987), ed. R. Allen Brown (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1988), 238, comments in detail on the appearance of these long divided surcoats that hug the thigh.

61  As reported by Otto of Freising, Gesta Frederici , quoted by Elizabeth Siberry, Criticism of Crusading 1095-1274 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 105; and see 72-75 & 102-08 for other instances.

62  St. Paul is also the only New Testament authority to condemn homosexuality, as a form of idolatry (Romans 1: 23-32; I Corinthians 6: 10).

63  Georges Duby, The Knight the Lady and the Priest: The Making of Modern Marriage in Medieval France . trans. Barbara Bray (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), 161, 164, citing his sermon XXIV, P.L. 162, col. 608.

64  According to J. Joseph Ryan, "Ivo of Chartres," in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol. 7. ed. Joseph R. Strayer (New York: Charles Scribner, 1986), 21-22, Ivo (ca. 1040-1115) was also a priest in Picardy, before becoming abbot of a house of canons in Beauvais ca. 1078, and bishop of Chartres in 1090.

65  A later example, around 1200, distinguishes French crusaders from Muslims in that, although both have thin moustaches, the infidel have beards and dark skin: C. M. Kauffmann, "A painted box and romance illustration in the early thirteenth century," Burlington Magazine 134/1066 (January 1992): 20-21.

66 Five hundred years later, John Donne used the term this way in his Satires: "Thou call'st me effeminate, for I love women's joys/ I call not three many, thou thou follow boys." Cited by Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England (Viborg: Gay Men's Press, 1988), 131.

67  The uncouth exhibiting figure also, of course, denigrates the lower class; for examples in Romanesque and Late Gothic art, see: Jonathan Alexander, " Labeur and Paresse: Ideological Representations of Medieval Peasant Labor," Art Bulletin 72 (1990): 439 and n. 17.

68  An examination limited to the battlefield concludes that the "arms and armor of each side are indistinguishable:" Stephen Morillo, Warfare under the Anglo-Norman Kings 1066-1135 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1994), 27. However, axes are the mark of "Anglo-Scandinavians" according to Peirce, "Armor and Warfare," 245-46, who notices their representation in the Embroidery and their mention by William of Poitiers.

69  For the Uta Codex crucifixion, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 13601, f. 3v: Florentine Müterich and Karl Dachs, ed., Regensburger Buchmalerei (Munich: Prestel, 1987), 33, no. 17, Pls. 10-11; cf. the mid-twelfth-century Synagogue of St. Gilles du Gard: Whitney S. Stoddard, The Façade of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973), figs. 95, 103; the Austrian abbots: Madeline H. Caviness, "Images of Divine Order and the Third Mode of Seeing," Gesta 22 (1983): 113-14, fig. 34.

70  R. Howard Bloch, The Scandal of the Fabliaux (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986), 75. The realists take Harold's bird to be a hawk, since it has a shorter tail than the falcon, but the representational codes of the embroiderers are not so precise.

71  The belief that only a fitting amount of sexual activity is good for men goes back to the Romans: Joyce E. Salisbury, "Gendered Sexuality," in Handbook of Medieval Sexuality , ed. Vern L. Bullough and James A. Brundage (New York: Garland, 1996), 82-84, who notes that "Psychologically, men could be 8216;feminized216;feminized' by stirrings of lust.".

72  Mirrer, 178, cites such a description of a defeated Muslim king.

73  Preben Meulengracht S[oslash]rensen, The Unmanly Man: Concepts of sexual defamation in early Northern society , tr. Joan Turville-Petre (Odense: Odense University Press, 1983), 36.

74  Cited by R. C. H. Davis, The Medieval Warhorse: Origin, Development and Redevelopment (London: Thames and Hudson, 1989), 18. See also the glossary for destrarius or destrier, a war horse, Jumentum or equa, a mare, and gelding; the Muslims rode geldings in battle, another sign of weakness, 135-36. The author calls for caution in treating the Bayeux Embroidery as a document, but confirms that stallions were used in battle and that the Normans' destriers were superior, 69-70.

75  François Garnier, Le Langage de l'Image au Moyen Âge: Signification et symbolique (Paris: Le Leopard d'Or, 1982),165-69.

76  The open palm as a foil for the pointing gesture typifies the relation of disciple to master: Garnier, Language, 77, 174-75.

77  In a book that came out after I had formulated this view of Harold, Lewis (49-50, 104-5, 114-15) has also suggested his instability is demonstrated in his journeying across the channel and back -- but such journeys are the stuff of pilgrimage and crusade too.

78  William of Poitiers, 168, shows the Normans to be derisive of any knight who would dismount.

79  Dodwell 1993, 13, is among those who regard this as a heroic act, granted to Harold despite the otherwise negative view of him in the Embroidery. Lewis, 24, concurs.

80  There is another resonance with Moriuht here, who carries his wife on his shoulders; as McDonough notes, he parodies Aneas leaving Troy, but he also -- given the language that ensnares him in the poem -- becomes like a sex organ carrying off his partner: Warner of Rouen, 31, 94-95.

81  Garnier, Langage, pp. 199-205.

82  This very issue, after all, began to be hotly debated in the US in relation to the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and more recently to the deployment of women in combat.

83  The English viewpoint, close to Eadmer of Canterbury's account of events, has been emphasized by Richard David Wissolik, "The Saxon Statement: Code in the Bayeux Tapestry," Annale Mediaevale 19 (1979): 69-97, though he does not propose that its bias would be noticed by Norman viewers, nor that the slant was subversive.

84  By a different strategy, Werckmeister suggested the Anglo-Saxon vs. Norman conflict was enhanced in the embroidery in order to mask William's quarrel with Odo.

85 Typically, long hair tied up in a knot, and semi-nudity with thick trousers and sometimes animal skins, distinguished vanquished Gallic warriors from Roman fighting men with shorter hair, cuirasses, and cloaks; the Romans were usually smooth-shaven, their hair covered by helmets. See: Mary B. Comstock and Cornelius C. Vermeule, Romans & Barbarians (exh. cat.), Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1977, 2-3. We need only think of Cromwellians vs. Royalists, cowboys vs. Indians, and caricatured Nazis with bull-necks, or American crew cuts --- and, of course, army regulations in most Western nations -- to perceive the long-standing association of short hair with professional soldiers.

86  Morrison notices the passage, among others of the period, that praises the beauty of boys and men, but he imputes the descriptions only to the greater mimetic value of males. It is hard to say how they would fit his view of the moral proscription against describing alluring females.

87  William of Poitiers, 248: "Caesarempraeio saepius adorti sunt Britanni; Anglos adeo Guillelmus die uno protrivit, ut post secum dimicandi fiduciam nullatenus reciperent." He continues to elaborate the comparison, sometimes exaggerating the difficulties of Caesar's army.

88  William of Poitiers, 257: "Cum in metropolim suam Rotomagum introiret, senes, pueri, matronae, cunctique cives spectatum processerant: conclamabant salutantes reduceem,adeo ut civitas ila universa applaudere putaretur, sicuti Roma quondam Pompeio suo applaudans tripudiavit."

89  In about 1350, Ranulf Higden, for instance, complained of the debasement of English caused by the fact "that children in the schools against the practice of other nations are compelled since the coming of the Normans to abandon their own tongue and to construe into French, and, secondly, that children of the nobility are taught French from the cradle and rattle" (John Taylor, ed. and trans., The 'Universal Chronicle' of Ranulf Higden (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 169; cf. Churchill Babington, ed., Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden Monachi Cestrensis . Rerum britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, 41 (Wiesbaden: Kraus Reprints, 1964, vol. 2), 158-59.

90  Searle, 243, views the Norman's use of French as a way of "distinguishing themselves from their prey" (i. e. the conquered Anglo-Saxons), and does not refer to any suppression of English.

91  Roger Dahood, "Hugh de Morville, William of Canterbury, and Anecdotal Evidence for English Language History," Speculum 69 (1994): 42-56.

92  London, British Library, MS Cotton Claudius B. IV. Neil Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957, no. 142), 178-79.

93  As explained in the last chapter, "he" and "a" persisted as epicene pronouns in some dialects, having survived from Old and Middle English. "She" was introduced only in the mid-twelfth century: Dennis Baron, Grammar and Gender (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 197-98.

94  Caviness, 1996, 124-27. The facts that follow depend largely on Elzbieta Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts 900-1066, London, 1976, nos. 93, 94 (Morgan Library, MSs 709, 708), 108-11, Pl. 289 (col).

95  Warren Hollister, The Making of England: 55BC to 1359, 6th. ed. (Lexington, MA and Toronto: D. C. Heath, 1992), 81.

96  As cogently argued by Jane Rosenthal and Patrick McGurk, "The Anglo-Saxon gospelbooks of Judith, countess of Flanders: their text, make-up and function," Anglo-Saxon England 24 (1995): 251-308.

97  London, British Library Stowe MS 944, f. 6; Caviness, 1996, 125-27, fig. 18.

98  "...thecam de argento et auro ... fieri fecit. In qua etiam apices sculptae erant, quorum forma haec est: Rex Cnut hanc thecam, necnon Aelfgiva regina, Cudere jusserunt..." quoted by Dodwell 1982, 25 & 246, n.8.

99  Stafford, 1983, pp. 102-103. For Ottonian examples of the norm--the king on the dexter side--see: John Beckwith, Early Medieval Art: Carolingian, Ottonian, Romanesque (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), figs. 103, 104, 109. I am grateful to Corinne Schleif for letting me read a paper which explores the normative positions from multiple perspectives before it was published as: "Hands that Appoint, Anoint, Ally: Late Medieval Donor Strategies for Appropriating Appropriation through Painting," Art History , 16 (1993): 1-32.

100  Edward the Confessor deprived his mother of her other lands, but she lived on at Winchester until her death in 1052: Peter Hunter Blair, An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), 104-5.

101  Dodwell 1982, 141, 145, 287 nn. 81-84, 288, n. 97.

102  George Hardin Brown, "The Anglo-Saxon Monastic Revival," in Renaissances Before the Renaissance: Cultural Revivals of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages , ed. Warren Treadgold (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984), 108.

103  Emily Zack Tabuteau, Transfers of Property in Eleventh-Century Norman Law (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 89, 116, 118, 151, 161, 185; she was a co-founder of the Abbeys at Caen (275, n. 8).

104  London, British Library, Add. MS 33241: Caviness, 1996, 127, fig. 19; see also: Janet Backhouse, D.H. Turner, and Leslie Webster, ed., The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art 966-1066 (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1985), 144-45, no. 148, (with reproduction of the frontispiece opening, ff. 1v-2).

105  The tradition may have been initiated by the Vivian Bible of Charles the Bald, ca. 845: Christopher R. Dodwell, Painting in Europe 800-1200 (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1971), pl. 38.

106  The programmatic support of Harthacnut as the legitimate ruler affords a parallel with the Bayeux Embroidery , as Lewis has pointed out ( 26-27).

107  In her native Normandy she had already been reviled in the anonymous Latin poem, Semiramis as the willing bride of an adulterous bull, who was Jupiter alias Cnut: Safford, Queen Emma , p. 12.

108  M. W. Campbell, "Emma, reine d'Angleterre, mère dénaturée ou femme vindicative?" Annales de Normandie 23 (1973): 97-114. The title "Lady Dowager" and its complement, Lady for Queen, appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , e.g., 172.

109  Tabuteau, Transfer of Property , 57-58.

110  Chapter 8, "After 1066: The Factual Evidence," by Clark and Williams provides a valuable overview (148-93).

111  Parker, 49, cites R. W. Southern, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages ( 1970).

112  Susan Reynolds, "England," in Fiefs and Vassals: The Medieval Evidence Reinterpreted (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), ch. 8, 323-95. Unfortunately, she does not focus on women's property rights.

113  Some studies, of course, have left women out entirely, e.g., Hollister, The Making of England , ch. 4: "The Impact of the Norman Conquest," 89-108.

114  Hollister had quoted the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for a positive view of William's administration of England, but he did not notice the male voice, nor consider the politics of the text: Making of England , 108.

115  J. Lesslie Hall, trans., Judith, Phoenix and other Anglo-Saxon Poems (New York: Silver, Burdett and Co., 1902), 5-17.

116  Judith Jesch, Women in the Viking Age (Woodbridge, Suffolk, and Rochester, New York: Boydell Press, 1991), ...

117  Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingorn, Interpreting Cultural Symbols: Saint Anne in Late Medieval Society (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1990), 12, citing Mary Clayton, "Feasts of the Virgin in the Liturgy of the Anglo-Saxon Church," Anglo-Saxon England 13 (1984): 226.

118  London, British Library, Add. MS 49598: Francis Wormald, The Benedictional of St. Ethelwold (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1959), 11-12, Pls. 1, 4, 6. See also Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 49-53 (no. 23), figs. 89, 90.

119  Rouen, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS Y.7, f. 54v: Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts , 53-54 (no. 24), fig. 87.

120  Most of the following examples are from Cook, 53-64 ("The Post-Conquest Development of the Diocesan System").

121  Castle building was a major enterprise of the Normans: R. Allen Brown, H. M. Colvin, A. J. Taylor, The History of the King's Works , I: The Middle Ages (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1963), 19-32.

122  Roberta Gilchrist, Contemplation and Action: The Other Monasticism (London: Leicester University Press, 1995), 107, 112.

123  C. H. Talbot, ed. & trans., The Life of Christina of Markyate a twelfth century recluse (Oxford: Clarendon, 1959).

124  London, British Library, MS Cotton Claudius B. IV: Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts , 102-104 (no. 86), figs. 265-72; Christopher R. Dodwell and Peter Clemoes, The Old English Illustrated Hexateuch British Museum Cotton Claudius B. IV. Early English Manuscripts in facsimile XVIII (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1974).

125  For Lot's wife, see chapter 1 of my companion book, Visualizing Medieval Women: Sight, Spectacle and Scopic Economy (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press), in press.

126  The twelfth-century commentator in Latin here mistakes Enoch for his son, Irad (Genesis 4: 17-18). Irad is left out of the Anglo-Saxon text, which gives Mehujael as Enoch's son.

127  I am grateful to Mary Evelyn Stringer for pointing this out to me years ago as we worked on our doctoral dissertations together at Harvard; it took me a long time to get the point.

128  Zarnecki, Romanesque Lincoln , fig. 55.

129  Mark D. Jordan, The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997), 29, 45-66, attributes the naming to Peter Damian in the twelfth century.

130  Some implications of his ideas have been explored in the first chapter, where bibliography is listed.

131  Marks and de Courtivron, ed., New French Feminisms , xii, characterizing the conclusions reached by writers such as Cixous, Kristeva, Clément, Irigaray and Herrmann.

132  The psychoanalytic formulation of object relations, based on Freud, is very clearly stated by Di Stefano, 1-62.

133  Dorothy Dinnerstein, The Mermaid And The Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 93-94.

134  Di Stefano lists pertinent readings in psychoanalytic theory, 32, n. 3 and 34, n. 6.

135  Mary Caputi, Voluptuous Yearnings: A Feminist Theory of the Obscene (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1994); a useful synopsis of Freudian, Lacanian and object relations explanations for fear of women is in ch 2, 29-45.

136  Madelon Sprengnether, The Spectral Mother: Freud, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), 1-10, 81-85.

137  E.g., Juliet Mitchell, "Four Structures in a Complex Unity," in Liberating Women's History: Theoretical and Critical Essays , ed. Berenice A. Carroll (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1976), 385-99, reviews Marx' and Engels' concept that women had to enter the public work force in order to work. If home-makers' production of the next generation of healthy workers had been accounted for, single mothers in the United States would not now suffer the insult of "welfare queen."

138  The weeping Virgin with a similar veil on the Second Coming portal of Saint-Denis Abbey Church dates from the consecration of 1141: Sumner McK. Crosby, "The West Portals of Saint-Denis and the Saint-Denis Style," Gesta IX/2 (1970): fig. 5. Later, the Magdalen wrings her hands at the Virgin's deathbed, as in the south transept sculpture of Strasbourg Cathedral: Willibald Sauerländer, Gothic Sculpture in France 1140-1270 , trans. Janet Sondheimer (New York: Henry Abrams, 1972), pl. 131 (upper). Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus , 149-50, figs. 125-26, has pointed out that Greek women also performed this "kind of reverse birth," and the emotional intensity of representations of mothers mourning their sons bears a resemblance to that of a Christian Pietà.

139  For these implications of the cult of the Virgin, see Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary (New York: Vintage Books, 1986), esp. 333-39.

140  She noted that recent books that presented newly uncovered texts by women did not contain much theorizing about exclusion and silencing. One, for instance, was content to refer to a "tradition" from Aristotle and St. Paul on: Karyn Kohrs Campbell, Man Cannot Speak for Her I: A Critical Study of Early Feminist Rhetoric (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989), 1-17.

141  Jean-Claude Schmitt, Mort d'une hérésie: L'Église et les clercs face aux béguines et aux béghards du Rhin supérieur du XIVe au XVe siècle (Paris: Mouton, 1978), 129-33, has emphasized the lack of subjectivity for this group.

142  Jeffrey T. Nealon, "The Discipline of Deconstruction," Proceedings of the Modern Language Association 107 (1992): 1269, quoting principally from Margins of Philosophy. I have chosen to overlook Derrida's ambivalence about extending his notion of absence beyond writing (315), and his insistent concern with the absence of the referent, and of the writer (327-29), and instead follow the general principles enunciated by Nealon.

143  Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality I: An Introduction . trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 27.

144  Michel Parisse, "Le tournoi en France dès ses origines à la fin du XIIIe siècle," in Das ritterliche Turnier im Mittelalter , ed. Joseph Flockenstein (Göttingen: Vanderhoeck and Ruprecht, 1985), 176-79. Helen Solterer, "Figures of female militancy in Medieval France," Signs 16 (1991): 522-49, analyses some thirteenth-century descriptions of women combatants.

145  Joel T. Rosenthal, "Other Victims: Peeresses as War Widows, 1450-1500," in Upon my Husband's Death , ed. L. Mirrer (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), 131.

146  After the eleventh century, medieval chroniclers drew attention to women warriors by stressing their unnatural behaviors; around 1200 Saxo Grammaticus even wrote that they "fitted to weapons hands that should have been weaving," the very tension and polarity inscribed in the Bayeux Embroidery ( History of the Danes , quoted by Megan McLaughlin, "The woman warrior: gender, warfare and society in medieval Europe," Women's Studies 17 (1990), 195; she also introduces some Viking and Anglo-Saxon warriors, 197-98).

147  Here he is citing Henrietta L. Moore, Space, Text and Gender: An Anthropological Study of the Maraket of Kenya (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 71.

148  The sources here are René Girard, Violence and the Sacred . trans. Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977), 171 n.44, and Michael Herzfeld, The Poetics of Manhood: Contest and Identity in a Cretan Mountain Village (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985).

149  I have dealt with the choice of this term in the Introduction, and discussed there some recent contributions to the question, such as the collection edited by Gilbert Herdt (cited in n. $$ 165 below).

150  A more nuanced history of encratic marriage is told by Dyan Elliott, Spiritual Marriage: Sexual Abstinence in Medieval Wedlock (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

151  Noble, 73-75, relying on the interpretation of Samuel Laeuchli, Power and Sexuality: The Emergence of Canon law at the Synod of Elvira (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1972), 95-97.

152  Flaws in Noble's use of sources do not greatly damage his main argument; in one instance he fell into the common error of reading homo as a gendered term; charging John Scotus Erigena with declaring triumphantly that: "At the Resurrection, sex will be abolished and nature made one ... There will then be only man, as if he had never sinned" (Noble, 105); in the original Latin, Erigena was postulating the elimination of sexual difference as an ideal reconfiguration: In resurrectione enim sexus auferetur, et natura adunabitur, et erit solummodo homo, sicut fieret, si non peccaret ( Joannis Scoti Opera quae supersunt Omnia (P. L. 122), col. 893. The corporeal resurrection has now been studied by Caroline Bynum, The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

153  For more coherent accounts of transvestism in the middle ages: Vern.L. Bullough, "Transvestism in the Middle Ages," in Sexual Practices & the Medieval Church (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1982) ed. Vern.L. Bullough and James A. Brundage, 43-54; and essays in Handbook of Medieval Sexuality , ed. Vern.L. Bullough and James A. Brundage (New York and London: Garland, 1996).

154  Nancy F. Partner, "No Sex, No Gender," in Studying Medieval Women: Sex, Gender, Feminism (Cambridge, MA: The Medieval Academy of America, 1993), 140.

155  The legend of Gilgamesh introduces another major theme of Miles' book, that pre-Christian Mediterranean culture already endorsed the view that "For women . . . courage, conscious choice, and self-possession constituted gender transgression (Miles, 55).

156  Kimmel gives a deft outline of Freud's object relations theory, and a critique of it, noting its omission of homophobia (129-30).

157  According to Sonya Michel, "Danger on the Home Front: Motherhood, Sexuality, and Disabled Veterans in American Postwar Films," Journal of the History of Sexuality 3 (1992): 126, Jefffords follows Theweleit in this idea, though his work is only cited by her on 197, n. 20.

158  This is also remarked on in an analysis of the experiences of gay men in sports: Brian Pronger, The Arena of Masculinity: Sports, Homosexuality and the Meaning of Sex (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990); he sees the development of sports for boys in the nineteenth century as part of a program to overcome national feminization by polarizing gender (16-17), and describes the "boys-wanting-girls-club" of the locker room (27-35)

159  An older study, of a particular occurrence of a fraternity initiation, takes for granted the heterosexual nature of the men's sexuality, when I would suppose they forced women to watch masturbation because the spectacle would be dangerously homoerotic among themselves; there seems to have been no interest on their part in gang rape: Peter Lyman, "The Fraternal Bond as a Joking Relationship: A Case Study of the Role of Sexist Jokes in Male Group Bonding," in Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity, ed. Michael S. Kimmel (Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1987), 148-63.

160  See also Philip G. White and Anne B. Vagi, "Rugby in the 19th-Century British Boarding-School System: A Feminist Psychoanalytic Perspective," in Sport, Men, and the Gender Order: Critical Feminist Perspectives , ed. Michael A. Messner and Donald F. Sabo (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books 1990), 67-78; Michael A. Messner, Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992), 14-17.

161  The rather too simple thesis of Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), that the concept of sex opposites developed only in the eighteenth century, will be discussed in chapter 4.

162  Representations of Greek athletes and warriors have also been studied by François Lissarrague, "The World of the Warrior," in Claude Bérard, et al., A City of Images: Iconography and Society in Ancient Greece (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 39-51.

163  Ferrari examines representations of young men and women on Greek vases, which suggest to her "that the image of the girls who work wool is the counterpart of the image of the young warrior." Aristotle does not specify weaving, but he does mention the arts of war and of rhetoric later on as good qualities of men: Aristotle, The "Art" of Rhetoric , with an English translation by John Henry Freese (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1959), I, 5-6, specifically 50-51, 54-55, 58-59, 62-63.

164  In his Politics, Aristotle states that "children, and women too, must be educated with an eye to the whole state" (I, 3), but his extended outline of education seems to refer to men (VIII). See Aristotle, The Politics . trans. T. A. Sinclair (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1962), 54, 299-316.

165  The treatment of eunuchs and the representation of their personae and behaviors in medieval Byzantine culture shows some continuity from the ancient pagan world, but this third gender is not closely analogous to the nordic construction, except in a combination of effeminate traits and uncontrolled sexual activity: Kathryn M. Ringrose, "Living in the Shadows: Eunuchs and Gender in Byzantium," in Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History , ed. Gilbert Herdt (New York: Zone Books, 1996), 85-109.

166  She contests a more conventional analysis that reasserts these polar terms even in face of the difficulties inherent in the model: Preben Meulengracht S[oslash]rensen, The Unmanly Man: Concepts of Sexual Defamation in Early Northern Society. trans. Joan Turville-Petre (Copenhagen: Odense University Press, 1983).

167  The habit of insulting the third sex is also noted by Gleason in Classical times (396). The terms are more general: "loathsome, licentious, reprehensible."

168  Scandinavian languages may have survived in Normandy into the eleventh century, and there were renewed contacts (Searle, 164, 242. Notably, Duke Richard I's wife Gunnor was pagan born; and Warner of Rouen dedicated his scatological poem Moriuht to her: Jan M. Ziolkowski, Jezebel: A Norman Latin Poem of the Early Eleventh Century. Humana Civilitas: Studies and Sources elating to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance 10 (New York: Peter Lang, 1989), 42-43, 57.

169  Mirrer, 172, citing Stanley Brandes, Metaphors of Masculinity: Sex and Status in Andalusian Folklore (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980), 92.

170  Peggy Reeves Sanday, Female Power and Male Dominance: On the Origins of Sexual Inequality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 35.