Behind Every Castle is a Strong Woman: Uncovering the Vital Role of Women in Medieval Times

When we think of medieval castles, we often imagine knights, kings, and battles, but the important role that women played in these fortresses is often overlooked!


Women were integral to the functioning of medieval castles, from managing the household to defending the castle in times of war. In this article, we will explore the diverse roles and experiences of women in medieval castles, from noblewomen to servants.

“The role of women in medieval castles was far more significant than often portrayed. They were not just passive figures, but active agents who played an essential role in the castle’s daily operations.” – Dr. Susan Johns, Medieval Historian


Noblewomen played an important role in medieval castles, particularly as wives of the castle lords. They were responsible for managing the household and overseeing the castle’s daily affairs. This included managing the castle’s finances, organizing feasts and other social events, and supervising the castle’s servants.

Medieval Lady Godiva
Medieval Lady Godiva

In addition to their household duties, noblewomen were also expected to participate in the defense of the castle during times of war. They often helped to organize the castle’s defenses and coordinate the efforts of the castle’s defenders. They also played a crucial role in ensuring that the castle’s supplies and provisions were well-managed during sieges.

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While noblewomen had more power and authority than women in other social classes, they were still subject to the patriarchal social structure of the time. Their actions were often dictated by the expectations of their male counterparts, and their influence was limited by the gendered power dynamics of the medieval world.

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Medieval Lady

“The experiences of women in medieval castles varied widely depending on their social status, but they all faced significant challenges and responsibilities. The complexity of their roles is often underestimated in historical accounts.” – Dr. Theresa Earenfight, Medievalist


Servants, particularly women, played a vital role in the functioning of medieval castles. They were responsible for cooking, cleaning, and maintaining the castle’s daily operations. They worked long hours and were often subject to harsh treatment by their employers.

Medieval Peasants Scullery Maid
Medieval Peasants Scullery Maid is plucking a pheasant bird

However, despite their low social status, servants were not powerless. They often had access to information and gossip that could be used to their advantage. They could also form alliances with other servants or with noblewomen to influence the castle’s affairs.

Women in Warfare

During times of war, women in medieval castles played an active role in the defense of the fortress. They were responsible for tasks such as manning the walls, providing first aid to the wounded, and even fighting alongside the male defenders.

Medieval Women

Some noblewomen, such as Joan of Arc, even led armies into battle. While these women were exceptions rather than the norm, their contributions demonstrate the important role that women played in medieval warfare.

“Women in medieval castles were often responsible for ensuring the survival and stability of the castle community. They were skilled in managing resources, defending the castle, and maintaining social order.” – Dr. Ruth Mazo Karras, Medieval Historian


Women played a diverse and important role in the functioning of medieval castles. From noblewomen managing the household and participating in the defense of the castle, to servants working tirelessly to maintain the castle’s daily operations, women were essential to the functioning of these fortresses.

While their contributions have often been overlooked in historical accounts, it is important to acknowledge the vital role that women played in medieval castles and the impact they had on shaping the society of the time.