Women, knowledge and gardens in John Capgrave’s Life of Saint Katherine of Alexandria

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    English: Saint Katherine was one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages and was renowned for her exceptional education. John Capgrave wrote his Life of Saint Katherine of Alexandria in East Anglia in the 1440s. The episode in Capgrave’s text in which Katherine is converted to Christianity is set in a private garden. While Capgrave attempts to associate Katherine with the Virgin Mary, the setting encourages associations with the Garden of Eden, Eve and the Fall. Eve’s sin was seen as prime evidence for the rightness of the subjection of women and of preventing them from preaching, teaching and speaking in public. The underlying tensions regarding women alluded to by means of the garden setting are explored.