The 2019 edition of the Medieval Festival is dedicated to “Women at the time of Dante: She who doth imparadise my mind”. Our aim si to represent the females between the second half of the 13th century and the first half of 14th century, showing both their figures: as idealized by the poet and in the real life.
In fact, on the one hand we have an image of the idealized woman, with angelic characters and the ability to save the soul of men; a salvific “angel-woman”, healing every imperfection with just her light. Beatrice is the perfect model of these women: she is able to intercede with Our Lady and, through her, she makes it possible for Dante’s help request to reach the Lord. Some historical women also represent a model belonging to the individual and collective imagination: for example, referring to the Divine Comedy, in the Inferno we find the adulterous Francesca, the pure Pia dei Tolomei is in the Purgatory, while in the Paradise we only find women who have attained perfection and take the Virgin Mary as their absolute ideal.
On the other hand, we have the real feminine world, in which women were considered inferior beings, defined by the Church Fathers as “the door to Hell”. In fact, late medieval women were devoted to just two main activities: home care and procreation. Female education was almost totally neglected and girls hardly ever left their house, except for the moments when they accompanied their mothers to the parish church. Medieval girls lived their whole life in subjection: having reached the right age, they were either sent to a Convent or married to a man chosen by their father, passing from paternal to the husband’s protection.
Women adultery and premarital relations were punished either with a heavy fine or, quite often, with death by fire, while wives often had to live and tolerate the presence of female slaves, lovers of their husbands and bastard children. Married women could be repudiated for being sterile, but they could also request a divorce if their man was unable to make them pregnant, or if he had dissipated their dowry, an inalienable good that had to return entirely to the widow after the death of her husband. Often widowhood allowed women to free themselves sexually. In fact, they had to be virgins up until marriage and were threatened with death in the case of adultery. But relationships with different men, always in the context of the greatest discretion, were tolerated after their husbands had passed away.
The shows performed at the Festival will mostly refer to the main theme, which has been so far described. They will be acted both on stage and in the streets, with more importance given to the latter (as usual for our Medieval Festival).
There will be musical, theatrical, juggling and falconry shows, stilt performances and fire games. There will also be shows specifically thought for children.