Segments in this Video

Power—The Ascent of Woman: Introduction (02:43)


Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance religion, philosophy, and law developments enforce the subordination of women. This segment orients viewers to the topic of women who defied the constraints.

Constantinople, 6th Century BC (02:41)

In the church, women are categorized as good or evil, their rights and freedoms denied. Empress Theodora challenged the system and created a route to power. Prof. Judith Herrin discusses female sexuality.

Theodora's Rise to Power (03:30)

Empress Theodora grew up in the hippodrome, married Justinian, and became empress in 527 AD. Justinian ordered the modernization of Roman law. Herrin discusses Theodora's influence and her modus operandi.

Theodora's Contribution (02:20)

Dr. Amanda Foreman discusses Empress Theodora's influence during her time as co-regent. The Little Hagia Sophia records Theodora's political and religious triumphs.

Status of Women in Turkey (02:11)

The image of Empress Theodora in the Basilica of San Vitale depicts a halo around her head. By the time of her death, Byzantine women had greater rights and status than women throughout the world. Today, Turkish women still fight for gender equality.

European Male Primacy (02:27)

In the 12th century, an urban revolution occurs in Europe and the Western Church adopts new customs and constraints for women. Foreman discusses the difference in social codes for men and women in monastic life.

Hildegard of Bingen (02:36)

The German nun wrote of her visions in "The Scivias." She challenged the ban on female preachers and the moral laxity of society, and corresponded with European royalty.

Hildegard's Seat of Power (03:15)

Hildegard of Bingen formed a monastery in 1165 AD. Her writings presented a radical view of the female body. Sister Lydia discusses Hildegard's writings on the female orgasm.

Arrival of Humanism (02:41)

The emergence of the Renaissance introduced the intellectual movement but the education of daughters was largely viewed as irrelevant. Christine de Pisan grew up in the Paris court and received an education.

Christine de Pisan Defends Women (04:00)

Christine de Pisan wrote to support her family and confronted scholars who defended "The Romance of the Rose." In 1405, Pisan wrote "The Book of the City of Ladies." Anne Paupert discusses Pisan's purpose behind the book.

Women and Education (01:35)

Christine de Pisan was rediscovered in the 1970s through "The Second Sex." Najat Vallaud-Belkacem discusses a female's right to education.

Female Sovereignty (05:05)

In the 15th century, France follows Salic law; women obtain power through dynastic succession in the rest of Europe. Elizabeth I was crowned queen in 1559; she used language and symbolism to establish her authority.

Marriage and Status (01:28)

During the Renaissance, marriage was the most important event in a woman's life; Queen Elizabeth I remained unmarried. A monument to her erected by James I reveals the confusion of language.

Era of Witch Hunting (02:25)

James I published "Demonology." From the 15th-18th centuries, 90,000 witch trials took place; 80% of victims were women. Prof. Malcolm Gaskill discusses the perception of duality; witchcraft persecutions were rooted in fear of female sexuality.

Female Sexuality (03:11)

Foreman discusses unequal gender roles in Islamic law and quotes Al-Ghazali. Roxelana grew up in the harem and would eventually transform the nature of dynastic politics.

Forbidding Female Independent Wealth and Power (02:50)

Sultans were forbidden to marry; they had children with slave women. Prof. Leslie Peirce discusses the Ottoman dynastic structure and the role of women. Roxelana has six children with Suleiman; they married in 1534.

Sultanate of Women (03:58)

Roxelana orchestrated the deaths of Suleiman's first born son and his Grand Viziers, moved her retinue to the center of the palace, and created a public persona through architecture. The hamam was the center of social life and business for Turkish women. Foreman discusses Roxelana's influence on royal wives and mothers.

Empress Nur Jahan (02:40)

The Mogul dynasty was vast and efficient. Foreman believes female participation in the economy is critical for prosperity. Jahan and Jahangir governed from the Red Fort.

Empress Nur Jahan's Place at Court (02:21)

Hear a quote about the evil of women from the "Mahabharata." Islamic and Hindu cultures practiced purdah. Nur Jahan redefined femininity in the Mogul court and ruled discretely.

Empress Nur Jahan's Influence (02:58)

Representatives from the East India Co. traded under Empress Nur Jahan's authority. She greatly influenced art and architecture; see Nur Jahan's parent's mausoleum and the Taj Mahal. Sunetta Dhar discusses the role of women in modern India.

Power Review (01:04)

Foreman reflects on the role of female sovereignty throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Credits: Power—The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story (00:36)

Credits: Power—The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story

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Power—The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story

Part of the Series : The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story
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Dr. Amanda Foreman travels to Istanbul, Germany, Paris and Delhi to explore the stories of women behind some of the most powerful empires of the Middle Ages. From 6th-century Byzantium to Medieval Europe, the Ottoman Court to the Mughal Empire, Amanda looks behind the male-dominated perceptions of these empires to reveal the strength of women at the heart of power and influence.This is the story of Empress Theodora, Hildegard of Bingen, Christine de Pizan, Roxelana, and the Mughal Empress Nur Jahan. These women resisted and rebelled from within the confines of the palace, the convent and the harem. They demanded to be heard, fought to be respected and insisted on having their own authority.

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL114442

ISBN: 978-1-68272-695-2

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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