Merchant Women and the Administrative Glass Ceiling in Thirteenth-Century Paris

Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


With a population that approached 200,000 around the year 1300, Paris was the largest city in Western Europe.1 Like other major cities, it had a stratum of wealthy bourgeois merchants who also dominated the local urban government. Paris differed from other French towns, however, because it was the center of royal government and because virtually every major aristocrat and high church leader in France and Flanders had a residence there.2 The special status of the city offered unique opportunities to the leaders of the Parisian merchant class.


Family Business Wool Cloth Fourteenth Century Working Woman Administrative Office 
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    See Sharon Farmer, Surviving Poverty in Medieval Paris: Gender, Ideology and the Daily Lives of the Poor (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), p. 17, note 19 for general discussion of the debates surrounding the size of the population of Paris.Google Scholar
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    Francesco di Balduccio Pegolotti, “Spices,” trans. from La prattica della mercatura by Robert S. Lopez, Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World (London: Oxford University Press, 1955), pp. 109–14.Google Scholar
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    Women concierges in the Parisian tax assessments: Adeline, concierge of the Count of Ponthieu; Ameline, concierge of Mon. Godefroy; Cateline, concierge of the Bishop of Chartres; Isabel la concierge; Isabel, concierge of the Seigneur of Beaumont; Jacqueline, concierge of the Seigneur of Coucy; Jeanne of Léry, concierge of the Count of Artois; Perrine, concierge of the Duke of Burgundy: Géraud, Paris sous Philippe-le-Bel, p. 159; Michëlsson, Le livre de la taille … 1296, p. 20; Michaëlsson, Le livre de la taille … 1297, p. 274; AN KK 283, fol. 103v, 166, 163v, 201v, 225v, 242, 245, 258, 275v, 277v. Parisian women concierges in other sources: Marguerite, concierge of the King; Bienvenue, Concierge of the Count of Artois; Jeanne l’Espicière, Concierge of the Count of Artois: Bove, Dominer, 282–83; PdC A 187/1; PdC A 329—these last two are accounts by Bienvenue and Jeanne l’Espiciere, partially edited by Jules-Marie Richard, “Documents des xiiie et xive siècles relatifs à l’hôtel de Bourgogne (ancien hôtel d’Artois) tirés du trésor des chartes d’Artois,” Bulletin de la société de l’histoire de Paris et de l’Île-de-France 17 (1890): 140, 152–4. Concierge outside of Paris: Jeanne, concierge of the Count of Artois at Conflans: PdC A 176/1 (account by Jeanne).Google Scholar
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    Prost, Inventaires, 2:22; Carolyn Sargentson, Merchants and Luxury Markets: The Marchands Merciers of Eighteenth-Century Paris (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996), pp. 18–23, 136. On the seventeenth century, see note 23 above.Google Scholar

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© Theresa Earenfight 2010

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