Young Girls from the Middle Ages

The Story of Medieval Maidens

As I was placing a re-order for Gisela’s Story recently, it occurred to me that Gisela’s Story was first published in 2006. It’s been five years since I started Medieval Maidens and the time has flown by! To celebrate this milestone, I’d like to take you back in time with me to see how it all began…

Roughly a year before I tore open that first shipment of Gisela books hot off the presses, I took part in a Master’s in Humanities program at Hood Collage with a concentration in Medieval Studies. I found the history positively fascinating.

I found myself going on field trips to numerous museums and art galleries as part of my study and it was at the gift shop at one of these museums that the preverbial lightbulb went off over my head. In the children’s section of the shop I found an amazing book on medieval history.

There were pages and pages devoted to jousts and tournaments, weaponry and armor. This book was clearly targeting boys. I continued thumbing through the book and found absolutely nothing about what young girls did during the medieval period.

My attention turned to the rest of the sales items on the shelf devoted to the Middle Ages. Not a single item dedicated to teaching medieval history to girls.

I approached the sales clerk and asked where I might find medieval gifts and souvenirs with a focus on young girls. To my dismay, she directed me to a shelf brimming with tiaras, fairy wings, and Disney princesses.

That’s when I knew something had to be done. There needed to be books and toys dedicated to teaching young girls about the lives of their medieval counterparts. What if I were to create a product line that did for young girls and the Middle Ages what American Girl did for my daughter and American history?

I mentioned this hair-brained idea of medieval stories for young girls to my professor and she thought the idea was fabulous. One morning over coffee, we created a story line that would involve the daughters of real medieval kings. And, thus, Medieval Maidens was born.

The first princess would be Gisela, the third daughter of Charlemagne. His other daughters were Rotrude and Bertha, but I happened to like the name Gisela best.

The next king I selected was William I of England. I chose his daughter Adele because it was noted that when she was ten years old she received a copy of the St. Alban’s Psalter. I thought her gift of a book was significant, especially in the 11th century given that girls of that time period were often uneducated.

Louis IX’s daughter Isabelle was next in the series. Then a group of Brownie scouts convinced me that I should have a Sultan’s daughter in the series. My fourth princess then was Gevrehan, the daughter of Sultan Mehmed II.

At a school presentation, I was asked about the difference between the medieval period and the Renaissance. I pulled in the expertise of my daughter, Tiffany, who had been an actress at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and who was studying Renaissance history and art at Hood College. Together, we settled on Mary, Henry VIII’s little sister. Tiffany wrote the stories of our fifth princess.

Medieval Maidens has been discovered by Girl Scout councils on the east coast in Maryland, Virginia, West Virgina Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Educational programs have been presented in school districts in these states as well. In 2010, the Gisela series was named historical/educational Book of the Year, and in 2011, the Mary series earned the same distinction.

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