Femina: feminist history lessons with Janina Ramirez

Programme editor

Women have held positions of power throughout history. But, aside from the select few, why do we not hear about them? British cultural critic Janina Ramirez takes us on a feminist trip through medieval history. 

With her most recent book Femina (2022) the British cultural historic Janina Ramirez tells a new history of the Middle Ages through the women written out of it. Through a careful examination of the artefacts, writings and possessions, Ramirez reveals a past we might have never imagined: The Middle Ages were not only a bloodthirsty, patriarchal society with Vikings, saints and kings, but also a time when powerful women founded universities, played a crucial role in wars and acted as influential religious leaders.

By giving voice to these influential women who have been silenced by male gatekeepers, she not only highlights unjustly forgotten pioneers, but also demonstrates how easily misconception underpin our historical narratives and influence our contemporary view of the past. How does her book change contemporary, dominant views on medieval and women’s history?   

Janina Ramirez is an Oxford lecturer, BBC broadcaster, author and researcher. She has presented and written more than 30 hours of BBC history documentaries on TV and radio.


Janina RamirezCultural historian
Cover: Femina- A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of it