Many women formerly regarded as harridans, vixens, or worse by historians throughout the ages have been rehabilitated in recent years. It is therefore discouraging to find old narratives of female promiscuity, intriguing, incompetence, frivolity, cupidity, obesity) continuing to circulate, in the form of what we might think of as female "subplots" in larger histories. When the woman in question is not the star of the study she is often subject to outdated stereotypes gleaned from old studies. This essay, focusing on a number of very recent subplots that recycle verifiably incorrect assumptions about Isabeau of Bavaria (1371-1435), queen of mad King Charles VI of France, makes a plea for turning to the primary sources even when the woman in question plays a small role, or, at the very least, when the secondary sources consulted offer flagrantly misogynistic tropes in place of documentation.
Copyright © 2016 Tracy Adams
Adams, Tracy "Powerful Women and Misogynistic Subplots: Some Comments on the Necessity of Checking the Primary Sources." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 51, No. 2 (2016) : 69-81.