Review by Choice Review
The authors aim to provide for medieval women a work comparable to existing guides to biographical sources for men, and further seek to delineate little-noticed roles of women in medieval society. The work is, however, more restricted in scope than the title suggests. It covers only the centuries between 800 and 1600 and relies primarily on French and English sources. Divided into six parts, the Index first lists women alphabetically by name. Subsequent sections cross-reference them by dates, by countries, by biographical categories, and by last names, titles, estates, regions, and cities. Although a "Reader's Guide" gives detailed instructions for using the index and clearly explains the spelling and cross-referencing principles used, the work is poorly designed. Some biographical categories are peculiar (squabbles, insanity, and ecclesiastical courts), and the final list is confusing: certain terms could be either names or geographical entities. The main index and predominantly English-language bibliography will be most useful for undergraduate research. The work's idiosyncracies and lack of comprehensiveness, however, prevent its being a major reference work. S. F. Roberts; Yale University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.