Μodern trends in historical research, without neglecting the systematic examination of sources, seek at the same time research tools that will allow scholars to fully put the “homo byzantinus” in his real dimensions in the society to which he belongs. Gender studies constitute one of these research tools. According to a well-expressed definition, “the concept of gender as a research tool in historical studies refers to the differences between men and women created by societies and not to their different biological characteristics”. Women from any social status and background are present in the Byzantine sources. However, their image is incomplete and full of stereotypes, based on established clichés and seen through the perspective of mostly male writers.
The present volume contains the proceedings of the Workshop “Women and Monasticism in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean: Decoding a Cultural Map” which took place at the NHRF as part of the project “Female Monasticism in the Late Byzantine Period”, as well as further contributions by experts on the role of women in the Eastern Mediterranean. The articles explore the specific characteristics that accompany the female gender and integrate them into the political, social, spiritual and religious structures; at the same time, they highlight particular roles played by women of various classes in different areas of the Eastern Mediterranean within a changing political environment. Furthermore, by examining the role of women in the context of court policies, ideology, economy, art, and religion this volume allows us to re-evaluate our perception of the medieval society.