Jeanne de Montbaston is the name of a medieval Frenchwoman, an artist who lived in Paris and who worked on some of the bestselling books of her time. One of her illustrations has taken on a life of its own, appearing on twitter, facebook and buzzfeed with regularity. It belongs with the scandalous, rude and misogynistic poem, the Roman de la Rose or ‘Romance of the Rose,’ and it features a tiny nun picking penises from a tree laden with phallic fruit. I’ve written about Jeanne’s work on this blog and spoken about it on BBC Radio 4, and it is one of my favourite examples of the ways in which medieval women made their own voices and views heard, even within the margins of texts written by men.
My name is Lucy Allen, and I’m a medievalist, working on the literature and visual culture of England and France in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. My main interest at the moment is in the ways in which medieval writers and artists represented women, and I’m currently writing a book about Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women and Middle English romances written in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. I’m also interested in the histories of sexuality and violence, and some of my blog posts here are about contemporary issues relating to feminism and sexuality, as well as about medieval studies. I live and work in Cambridge with my partner and my baby daughter, and you can also find me on twitter as @LucyAllenFWR.