Famous Women of the Middle Ages

By Tim Lambert

There were many famous women in the Middle Ages in Europe. Women were rulers, writers, doctors, book illuminators, and entrepreneurs. The following is a list of some of the great women in the Middle Ages.

The Early Middle Ages

Clotilde 475-545

Clotilde married Clovis, the king of the Franks who ruled northern France. She helped to convert her husband to Christianity.

Theodora c. 497-548

Theodora was the empress of the Byzantine Empire. She was a powerful and influential woman.

Queen Brunhilda of Austrasia 543-613

Brunhilda, also called Brunhilde was a Frankish queen. She was born in Toledo in Spain about 543. In 567 she became queen of Austrasia, a kingdom in northwest Europe. She was a powerful woman.

Berta or Bertha 539-612

In the 6th century AD England was divided into small kingdoms and the English were pagans. However, Berta was a Christian and she married the king of Kent. It was partly due to her influence that Kent was converted to Christianity.

Hilda of Whitby 614-680

Hilda was an influential woman in the Saxon church who founded the abbey at Whitby. In 664 she hosted the Synod of Whitby, an important church meeting.


In the Middle Ages books were often beautifully decorated. This art was called illumination. Ende was a famous illuminator.

Aethelflaed c. 868-918

Aethelflaed ruled Mercia (central England) from 911 to 918. She was called the Lady of the Mercians.

Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim 930-1002

She was a dramatist and poet

Gruoch 1007-1060

Gruoch was the real Lady Macbeth

Minna of Worms? -1096

Minna was a wealthy businesswoman

The Twelfth Century

Matilda of Tuscany 1046-1115

Matilda was a powerful woman ruler

Frau Ava 1060-1127

She was a German writer

Comnena 1083-1153

She was a princess of the Byzantine Empire. She was also a noted historian.

Hildegard 1088-1179

Hildegard was a theologian and writer. She also wrote about medicine. And she wrote music and a play.

Trota of Salerno c. 1100

Trota of Salerno was a famous doctor. (Salerno in Italy was famous for its medical school. Women were allowed to study there).

Matilda 1102-1167

Matilda was the queen of England 1135-1154. (Although there was another claimant to the throne and they fought a long civil war).

Nichola de la Haye c. 1150-1230

She was a female landowner and for many years she was the constable (person in charge) of Lincoln Castle. In 1216 King John made her Sheriff of Lincolnshire.

Pulcellina of Blois ?-1171

She was a rich moneylender in France

Marie de France 1160-1215

Marie was a famous French poet. Little is known about her life although she was highly regarded.

Eleanor of Aquitaine c 1122-1204

Eleanor was an influential woman in 12th century Europe

Guda 12th century

Guda was a famous book illuminator

The Thirteenth Century

Teresa of Portugal 1181-1250

Teresa was a devout woman who founded a monastery

Queen Tamar of Georgia 1184-1213

Tamar was the ruler of Georgia. Under her, the kingdom prospered. She expanded its territory and during her reign, the arts flourished.

Clare of Assisi 1194-1253

A follower of Francis of Assisi Clare founded the order known as the Poor Clares

Rebecca de Guarna c. 1200

Rebecca was a famous woman doctor

Isabella of England 1214-1241

Isabella was empress of Germany from 1235 to 1241

Elisabeth of Wetzikon 1235-1298

Elisabeth was the abbess of an Abbey in Zurich. In the Middle Ages, the abbess was the highest authority in Zurich. Elisabeth was a particularly influential abbess.

Chera ? -1244

Chera was a moneylender in England

Marguerite de Provence 1221-1295

Marguerite was the queen of France

Belia ?-1273?

Belia was an English moneylender

Licoricia of Winchester ?-1277

Licoricia was a Jewish money lender. She was a very successful businesswoman

Eleanor of Castile 1241-1290

Eleanor was the queen of England from 1254 to 1290

Mechtild von Magdeburg c 1207-1282

She was a famous mystic

Claricia 13th Century

Claricia was another famous book illuminator

The 14th Century

Rose de Burford ?-1329

Rose was married to a wool and spice merchant. She helped her husband with the business and took it over when he died.

Lady Agnes Randolph aka Black Agnes 1312-1369

She defended a castle

Jeanne de Clisson 1300-1359

She was a famous French woman pirate

Leonor Lopez de Cordoba c 1362-1430

Leonor was a Spanish author

Jadwiga c 1373-1399

Jadwiga was the queen of Poland

Alice Perrers 1340-1400

Alice was the mistress of the English King Edward III

Julian of Norwich 1342-1416

Despite the masculine name, Julian was a woman. She was a famous mystic and writer. Julian wrote about the ‘motherhood’ of God.

Catherine of Siena 1347-1380

Catherine was an Italian author

Margaret of Denmark 1353-1412

Margaret was the queen of Denmark

Dorotea Bucca 1360-1436

She was a famous physician. Dorotea was a professor of Medicine at the University of Bologna.

The Fifteenth Century

Christine de Pisan 1364-1432

Christine was another famous writer

Margery Kempe 1373-c. 1439

Margery was an English mystic. The story of her life became a famous book The Book of Margery Kempe.

Joan of Arc 1412-1431

Joan inspired French soldiers to fight against the English

Joan of Arc

Francoise de Dinan c. 1436?-1499

She was a rich and influential Frenchwoman

Jane Shore c. 1445-1527

She was the mistress of the English King Edward IV

Isabella of Castile 1451-1504

She married Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 and when his father died in 1479 the two kingdoms were united

Laura Cereta 1469-1499

Laura was a great Italian writer

Anne Neville 1456-1485

Anne was the wife of Richard III and Queen of England 1483-1485

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