Parergon 37.1 preview: A Clerical View of Gender in Twelfth-Century Flanders: The Voice of Lambert of Ardres

We asked contributors to the current issue of Parergon to give us some additional insights into their research and the inspirations for their articles. In this post, Yongku Cha, Professor of History at Chung-Ang University, South Korea, discusses ‘A Clerical View of Gender in Twelfth-Century Flanders: The Voice of Lambert of Ardres’. DOI: 10.1353/pgn.2020.0000

I am currently a professor in the Department of History at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, Korea. I earned my PhD in medieval history from the University of Passau, Germany. I have published, among others, “A Case Study of the Conflict between Husbands and Wives in the Twelfth Century: Focusing on Arnold and Beatrice of Guînes-Ardres’’ (Journal of Western Medieval History 32 (2013): 107–134), “The Relationship between Fathers and Sons in the Twelfth Century: Baldwin of Guines and His Eldest Son” (Journal of Family History 39/2 (2014): 87-100), and “Women, Marriage, and Cultural Transmission: The Marriage of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II and the Byzantine Princess Theophano (972)” (The Historical Review of Soong Sil University 37(2017), 391-423). My main research and teaching interests focus on the gender and men’s history in Medieval Europe.

My article published in Parergon 37.1 looks at the twelfth-century view on gender, focusing on the family chronicle of Guînes and Ardres (the Historia comitum Ghisnensium) written by Lambert, who worked as a household chaplain in the church of Ardres. There is still relatively little published scholarship on gender constructions of the secular aristocracy; even though Lambert is relatively well known for offering a richly detailed account of an aristocratic family in twelfth-century Flanders, there has been no research revealing his views on gender and masculinities. His duties and experiences enabled him to have personal interactions with aristocratic women and men. These secular interests and responsibilities provide insight into the aristocratic gender system such as marriage, sex, family life, conjugal relations, or affections. By disclosing Lambert’s ideas about male and female gender categories, this article will contribute to scholarship on the studies of femininities, masculinities, and gender construction in the twelfth century aristocratic family.

I have conducted much of my research by crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries and taking new approaches – these are also Parergon’s aims –, which allow an in-depth understanding of the mutual interactions between family strategies of the aristocracy and gender roles in the twelfth century. Lambert’s depictions of marriage, female and male virtues and moral weaknesses, variations in gender stereotypes, and the performance of masculinities provide interesting clues for understanding clerical ideas of medieval gender identities. Moreover, Lambert emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between men and women; readers would recognize that women have been deeply involved in the process of forming masculinities.

Based on women’s and gender studies, my research will continue to investigate modern political discourses and representations or ‘deliberate’ misrepresentations of medieval women. I intend to publish other papers on this subject, specifically considering the national appropriations of the medieval past which make use of medieval women to support nationalist ideologies in Germany, France, and Italy during the 1920s and the 1930s.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit