“Wijvenwereld” – A surprising outlook on women in the late midle ages

From November 19, 2022 upto May 7, 2023

The Middle Ages: a dark period in which violence reigns and men dominate society. Women barely get involved. Is this image correct? Medieval women had quite a lot of rights in the Low Countries: they traded, expressed their opinion and did indeed push through their will. These ‘wijven’, the medieval word for ‘woman’, populated the city and the countryside. Their position differed less from the contemporary woman than was thought.

In collaboration with Het Gebroeders van Lymborch Huis, Museum Kasteel Wijchen presents the exhibition “Wijvenwereld”. A surprising outlook on women in the late Middle Ages. An exhibition about the position of women in the 15th century, both rich and poor. Miniatures of books of hours, archaeological finds, literature, badges and other special objects reveal a surprising picture of the position and environment of women. An image that is different from the ideas formed in the 19th century with which we grew up. The spotlight is on a wonderful ‘women’s world’!

The Van Bronckhorst-Batenburg Book of Hours

A very special object can be admired in the exhibition for 7 weeks: the Van Bronckhorst-Batenburg Book of Hours. The book, privately owned, has only been exhibited once before. In the Middle Ages, Wijchen Castle was owned by the Van Bronckhorst-Batenburg family. The special book of hours therefore comes ‘home’: back to the region where the book was actually used. Museum Kasteel Wijchen is therefore very proud to be able to show this book. The Van Bronckhorst-Batenburg Book of Hours is a small book, approximately 12 by 8 centimeters. Yet it has more than 200 parchment leaves, well over 400 pages. Many text pages have border decoration. Special is that the book contains 7 full-page miniatures. One of them can be seen in the exhibition “Wijvenwereld”. A surprising look at women in the late Middle Ages upto the Christmas holidays. . That the prayers are in Latin tells us that the lady for whom the book had been made was of high rank and education. In the Book of Hours there is an image of a richly dressed lady, kneeling on a prayer chair. It is probably Catharina van Gronsveld. She got the book from her husband, Dirk II van Bronckhorst-Batenburg.