Literacy was not widespread in Europe until the eighteenth century. But in the middle ages nuns often could read, and some townswomen were literate. We know because some of them left writings and also because women are portrayed reading in medieval art. Commonly, the Virgin was depicted with a book.
It seems probable that the subject of my research, Viscountess Ermengarde, like Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, could read but not write. Documents contain not Ermengarde’s signature, but her identifying symbol.
Viscountess Ermengarde, like her contemporaries, Eleanor and Eleanor’s daughter, Marie of France, supported poets and established a court of love.
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