By Stephanie Trigg
Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, Vol.38 (2002)
Abstract: The silkwomen of medieval London have become a celebrated case in the history of women’s work, but the surviving evidence about the status of their work and their social situation in ambiguous at best. This essay examines their famous petition to Parliament in 1455 in which they describe silkwork as the virtuous labour of “gentlewomen”, and reads it against a number of other representations of women and silk work from romance, sumptuary legislation, estates literature and political poetry. My focus is on both the possibilities and the limitations offered by interdisciplinary research into medieval women’s lives.