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Drawing on these writings, Duby describes how women were thought to embody particular sins, such as sorcery, disobedience, and licentiousness. He evaluates Eve's role in man's fall from grace in the Garden of Eden and analyzes the reasoning behind the view that women are unstable, curious, frivolous creatures. He also notes that these charges are leveled against women, even as praise is heaped upon them for the conventional virtues they exhibit in their roles as wives and mothers.
As the final installment in Duby's three-volume study of French noblewomen of the twelfth century, Eve and the Church is the last work of this superb historian. It will be of interest to scholars of medieval history and women's history as well as to anyone interested in current debates about women and religion.
Georges Duby (1919-1996) was a member of the Académie française and for many years held the distinguished chair in medieval history at the Collège de France. His books include The Three Orders; The Age of Cathedrals; The Knight, the Lady, and the Priest; Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages; and History Continues, all published by the University of Chicago Press.